Bitter gourds are one of the common vegetable found everywhere in the market here in Penampang, Sabah. I remember back in my younger days my mom used to grow this vegetable at our backyard. I used to help mom cover the tiny growing fruit with newspaper to protect them from being eaten by pests. When the vegetables are ready to be picked, one only needs to 'feel' the newspapers that cover the fruits. It was a very interesting process. (well at least, for me!) The only way to find out was to hold the newspaper. If you feel that the vegetable inside the newspaper is big enough to be picked, then you may pluck it from the tree. There were times when we accidentally left the fruit too long on the tree and it ripened before we could collect it. We normally stir fry the ripened bitter gourd. The seeds of the ripened bitter gourds are red in colour and surprisingly they taste sweet!

The best time to harvest the vegetable is when it has matured but still unripe. Eating bitter gourd regularly can help build our immunity system as they are so rich in nutrients.

Bitter gourd salad 
Bitter gourd can be taken by either cooking, juicing or eat raw (salad). When making salad from bitter gourd make sure that it is firm and unripe. The ripe one will be too soft and may be very bitter and not suitable for making salad. Very easy to make; clean your bitter gourd under cold running water and add a drop of biodegradable cleaning liquid. I usually use my own homemade cleaning enzyme to wash vegetables. After the vegetable is thoroughly cleaned, slice it length wise and scoop out the seeds. Slice it into small pieces and place it in a glass bowl. To add flavour, take a handful of dried anchovies. Wash the anchovies and soak in hot water for 10 minutes before adding them into the bowl of bitter gourd. Finally add sliced chilly, shallot, lime juice and salt to taste. Mix them together. Your bitter gourd salad is now ready.

Simple and yet so appetizing!