Bitter melon is often sold in areas that have large immigrant Asian populations. Bitter melon gourds are available at local Asian markets and sometimes at local farmer's markets. Supplements made from bitter melon extract are available on Amazon.
Bitter melon seeds are available online from seed sellers such as Kitazawa Seed Co., which offers several hybrid varieties. Bitter melon plants need plenty of sunshine and humidity to thrive, and they grow similarly to squash. When growing this plant it is best to use a trellis because its vines can grow up to 6 feet long. Bitter melon plants typically begin flowering within a few weeks of planting. The gourd fruit has an elongated, slightly irregular shape and is mainly green in color. There is no definitive time to harvest the fruit, but many professional growers pick it when gourds reach 4 to 6 inches in size. Yellow color indicates the fruit is overripe.
Bitter melon is often used to treat a variety of health conditions, including gastrointestinal disorders, intestinal worms, kidney stones and diabetes. There is an active ingredient in bitter melon that mimics insulin, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Bitter melon is so strongly bitter in taste, that it requires time to get used to the flavor. Melon fruit can be prepared in a variety of ways that make it easier to enjoy.