Bitter melon looks like a cucumber with light green, warty, wrinkled skin. Its bitter taste is caused by quinine, which has medicinal qualities. Blanching or salting reduces the melon’s bitterness. Mature melons can be cooked unpeeled, but their seeds and pith should be removed. Bitter melon is often stuffed with meat or seafood, used in curries, or added to stir-fries.