Biting into Bitter Gourd
Bitter Gourd Taste Panel
Original article from AVRDC Fresh Newsletter (August 12, 2011)
Bitter gourd pizza (left) and Bitter gourd curry (right)
Here’s a tall order for a nutrition intern: Take a bitter-tasting vegetable and find ways to make it appealing for palates in...New Jersey, USA, where hot dogs and pizza are considered high cuisine.
During her month-long internship at Center headquarters in Taiwan, I Han Du of Rutgers University has been collecting and developing nutritious bitter gourd (Momordica charantia) recipes she hopes to introduce in New Jersey—and beyond.
To test the recipes I Han invited 25 AVRDC staff and family members from the US, Canada, Taiwan, India, Ireland, Germany and Nigeria to the AVRDC cafeteria on 3 August 2011 to sample seven dishes incorporating bitter gourd: chicken soup, two salads (one pickled, one with mango), pizza, curry, spiced yogurt, and a guava-pineapplebitter gourd juice. Participants ranked each dish on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being “Dislike Very Much” to 5, “Like Very Much”), offered comments and suggestions to improve the recipes, and indicated whether or not they would recommend the dish to family and friends.
Pizza was the most promising recipe, followed by a tie between the juice and the pickled bitter gourd salad. Many tasters noted (with relief) that the bitter gourd wasn’t nearly as bitter as they had expected. That’s not a surprise: The many varieties of M. charantia display significant variation in shape, size, and level of bitterness.
Compounds in bitter gourd can help type 2 diabetics control blood glucose levels. Diabetics living in areas where medication is unavailable or unaffordable may find bitter gourd helpful in managing the disease; with improved, tasty recipes, it will be
that much easier to make the “medicine” go down.
The Center is leading a three-year multidisciplinary, multinational collaborative project funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany to optimize the content of antidiabetic compounds in bitter gourd and determine
appropriate food processing methods and consumption guidelines. The research aims to
improve the incomes and health of the poor in developing countries, particularly the quality of life of diabetics.
-- Maureen Mecozzi
More photos from the taste panel
I Han Du explaining the taste panel evaluation process
Taiwanese children on their first taste evaluation experience
Bitter gourd mango chutney salad
Spiced bitter gourd yogurt (left), Taiwanese pickled bitter gourd salad (middle), and Pineapple guava bitter gourd juice (right)
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