Goya grow on climbing vines from just behind the flowers, much like a cucumber; however, they have a bumpy flesh that is generally known for it’s bitterness. Often prepared with scrambled egg, onions, and pork in Okinawan cooking, it is liked and hated by roughly equal numbers of people. In our hot climate, it has been trendy to grow “green curtains” of these vines outside windows in an attempt to stay cool. We opted to follow the trend this summer and have been treated to shade, good food, and learning for our efforts.
One interesting point of learning is that, the bitter green goya are actually less than fully ripe. Allowing them to ripen past the normal harvest time, sees them change to yellow or bright orange coloring. Additionally, the bitterness is greatly tempered; in some cases, even resulting in a bit of sweetness. Harvesting this late can be a bit tricky in that the goya will start to rot on the vine and bugs or birds may take an interest in dining before the farmer.
Green goya seeds are normally carved from the inside and thrown out; although some will tempura fry them. In the case of a fully ripened goya, the seeds become harder but the flesh around them turns sweet and red – almost like jam.