Saving bittergourd seeds

The brilliant red seeds inside an over-ripe bittergourd

The only reason we had bittergourd vines growing in our garden in the last 2 years was because birds dispersed seeds that sprouted, and we recognized the plants for what they were and let them grow.

Honestly, I was not a fan of bittergourd. It’s a fact. Apparently, the best way to convert me was for me to grow the plant and have such pride in it that I developed a tolerance for it – especially since there are health benefits attached to eating bittergourd.

So, when the vine started showing signs of dying off last year, I tried to salvage seeds from ripe fruits on the vine to grow new plants. It was a risky thing. I actually had 3 sprouts, but only one survived. I was thrilled when another volunteer started growing in my bean patch earlier this year, and quickly planted my “domesticated” vine so it could merge with the new one. Now, thankfully, the plants are thriving and fighting to gain a foothold on the higher bean trellis.

Bittergourd seeds after being cleaned and dried

Hoping to avoid this situation of not having a new vine when the current ones die out, I decided to harvest seeds from an over-ripe fruit on the vine. Actually, the decision was made for me because as usual, I didn’t spot the fruit growing under all the leaves, and when I saw it, it was already yellow, over-ripe and split open.

My bittergourd seeds were an amazingly bright red colour. It was a really nice contrast to the also bright yellow skin and flesh of the over-ripe fruit. I wouldn’t have expected that from the sedate green fruit we normally buy and eat…

The seeds varied in size. There were several big ones and a few small ones. The red flesh surrounding the seeds was very jelly-like, but could be removed when gently rubbed between the fingers. I managed to get several seeds from the big ones, but the smaller seeds were just jelly sacs with no seed inside. As per what I’d read somewhere, I rinsed the seeds, patted them dry, and left them to air-dry overnight. And that’s it! I’ll guesstimate their viability for 3 to 6 months. If I haven’t planted them by then then I need to thwack myself on the head!

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Saving bittergourd seeds — 8 Comments

  1. I LOVE bittergourd! Especially when cooked in soup with eggs. =D Hee hee.

    Hope your seeds sprout and grow into healthy, big vines!

    • Thanks, Sky! Do you want some seeds? If our first vine grew from a flowerpot, you could grow it too. Just keep training the vines back onto a small climbing area as I did last year! :D

      • Hee hee. Thanks, CG! Think I’ll pass on this. Don’t get enough sun to grow fruiting plants, unfortunately. Tried it with capsicum, okra etc. and all of them just gave me smaller and smaller fruits until no more fruits. LOL.

        • Okay, will pass you some fruits if we get a bumper crop. First I need to check the vines more carefully – difficult to spot the fruits with all those leaves around! But the birds have been benefiting from my carelessness :D

  2. Hi CuriousG,

    Another nice piece about BG! =) Seeds actually also have antidiabetic properties. It’s interesting because I found out in parts of India, people keep the seeds. In Taiwan, where I live right now, people mostly remove the seeds and pulp completely.

    Thanks for sharing the importance of storing seeds!


    • Thanks, Jen. It was only when our first vine last year began to die off and we were left with the prospect of not having any more fresh bittergourds that it struck me how I should have paid more attention to propagating the next generation. Thank goodness I managed to grow that one vine, and that the birds helped me out by depositing another seed here! As I’ve mentioned, I tend to miss harvesting the fruits because they’re so hard to spot, and we’ve seen some birds happily feasting on the seeds from the over-ripe fruits. Who knows where new seedlings may appear? :)