There are many well-known vegetables that we can choose from. Vegetables that come out of the greenhouse or from the cold ground on a large scale. In addition, there are vegetables that are already longer, but by no means have that reputation. Yet these vegetables are also worth a try. The sopropo from the cucumber family is one of them. What kind of vegetables is this exactly? How healthy is this sopropo and how can you use the vegetables in the meal?
Sopropo, the basis
Sopropo is a herbaceous, fast-growing climbing plant that gets small, yellow flowers and carries long cucumber-like fruits. Sopropo belongs to the cucumber family and is originally from Southeast Asia. The plant is grown for consumption in several parts of China, the Caribbean and Suriname. In the Netherlands, the fruit of this plant is mainly for sale in local markets, the more exclusive greengrocer’s shop and in tropical or Asian markets.
Since the vegetables are also grown in other countries, the sopropo sometimes differs slightly from the original version. For example the Surinamese sopropo, which is thicker and darker in color than the Southeast Asian specimens (from India and Thailand). The Surinamese sopropo can be up to thirty centimeters long. In terms of taste, the sopropo from the different countries does not really differ from each other.
Other names for the vegetable
In Suriname, the name sopropo is used most often for this vegetable. Other countries sometimes give different names, such as in India. There the vegetables are called ‘karela’ or ‘karaila’ and in Thailand they call it ‘mara’. Finally, in the Netherlands sopropo is sometimes called ‘bitter melon’ or ‘balsam pear’.
The plant gets large single growth shoots that can grow up to ten meters long and they look grooved and coarse. The moment this vegetable can best be consumed is when the vegetable is still green and unripe. The flesh of the sopropo is pale green in color and very juicy. When the vegetable ripens further, it becomes yellow to orange in color and gets a very bitter taste, which does not mean that the fruit can also be eaten.
You can also grow Sopropo yourself. You can grow the seeds in your own breeding box. Put them in breeding pots between April and June, the temperature must be between 22-25 ºC. After about four weeks you can plant them out in a hobby greenhouse. If the plants begin to grow, the stems must be properly tied and they must be watered regularly (manually or with a dropper).