If you read my last post about cooking bitter melon, you saw how I boiled it in salted water and then soaked it in salted ice water to remove some of the bitterness. As an experiment, I tried other methods to make bitter melon less bitter. In this article, I’ll reveal some of my results.
For the purposes of this test, I used pieces of bitter melon all sliced from the same one to rule out any difference that another fruit would make.
The first thing that I tried is what my mother does when she cooks bitter melon. Instead of blanching it in salted water briefly, she boils it for several minutes in plain water. I decided to test this method against my salt water/shocking method, and found that I prefer my method much better. For one, not all of the bitterness was removed. Next, cooking it for as long as she does makes it too soft and an unattractive shade of grayish green.
Next, I tried just the salt water alone for a short amount of time. This worked reasonably well, but it was still too bitter for my tastes.
The final method I tried was to do a salt water blanch and then a soak in salty iced water. This has become my preferred method since it really does help to remove much of the bitterness. It’s controversial about how salt manages to reduce bitter flavors. Some argue that the salt binds with bitter receptors on the tongue, while others suggest that the salt draws out moisture from the vegetable, and bitter compounds with it.