Balsam Apple (Bitter Melon)
Balsam Apple is a Bitter Melon relative with tiny pointed fruit that are edible when young and green, but that cause vomiting when ripe and orange. The bright red seed coat is sweet and textured like tapioca. In Cameroon, Sudan, and southern Africa the young fruit and leaves are cooked as a vegetable. This plant (Momordica balsamina) has numerous medicinal uses, and in 19th century texts it is described alongside the more common bitter melon (Momordica charantia), and both listed as Cerasee, an important healing vegetable in Jamaica. This plant is from tropical Africa and was also introduced to Asia where it is used to treat wounds.
Days to maturity: 120
Seeds per pack: 12
Planting / harvesting notes
Direct sow outdoors after the last threat of frost has passed, or get a head start and sow indoors a couple weeks beforehand. For better germination, soak seeds overnight before planting. The plant will use as much trellising as you give it!
Seed keeping notes
Seeds are ripe when the fruits turn a fiery orange-red. If you wait too long to harvest, they will pop open and drop their seeds, which are covered in a sweet, red gel. Remove the seed coat and dry the seeds in a well ventilated place away from direct sunlight. I have found that smooshing the seeds in a cloth bag will help remove the seed coat more efficiently.