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bitter melon

Also referred to as a balsam pear, this fruit resembles a cucumber with a bumpy skin and is used as a vegetable in Chinese cooking. When first picked, the bitter melon is yellow-green and has a delicate, sour flavor. As it ripens it turns yellow-orange and becomes bitter and acrid, which is how many people prefer it. Chinese bitter melon ranges from 6 to 10 inches long; Indian bitter melon is about half that size. Chinese bitter melon is available year-round in most Asian markets and some supermarkets. It can also be purchased canned or dried. The Indian variety can sometimes be found in Indian markets.

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