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. Bitter melon is available fresh from April through September in most Asian markets. It can also be purchased canned or dried.