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Unknown vegetables: Sopropo, tasty and healthy

  1. There are many well-known vegetables to choose from. Vegetables that come from the greenhouse or from the cold soil on a large scale. In addition, there are vegetables that have been around for longer, but are far from being known. Still, these vegetables are worth a try. Sopropo, which comes from the cucumber family, is one such. What kind of vegetable is this exactly? How healthy is this sopropo and how can you use the vegetables in the meal?

Sopropo, the basis

  1. Sopropo is a herbaceous, fast-growing climbing plant that produces small, yellow flowers and long cucumber-like fruits. Sopropo belongs to the cucumber family and is native to Southeast Asia. The plant is now 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 the local toko's, the more exclusive greengrocer's and in tropical or Asian markets. Both the fresh sopropo and the canned sopropo (usually on salt water) in 2019 cost an average of around € 2.

Other names for the vegetables

  1. In Suriname the name sopropo is most often used for this vegetable. Other countries sometimes give it different names, such as in India. There the vegetable is called "karela" or "karaila" and in Thailand they call it "mara". Finally, in the Netherlands sopropo is also sometimes called "bitter melon" or "balsam pear".


  1. Sopropo can also be grown yourself. You can grow the seeds in your own propagator. Place them in nursery pots between April and June, the temperature should be between 22-25 ºC. After about four weeks you can plant them in a hobby greenhouse. When the plants start to grow, the stems must be tied well and they must be watered regularly (manually or with a dropper).

Health aspects

  1. We can say that this healthy vegetable contains few calories, because 100 grams of sopropo contains only 34 kilocalories.

Vitamins and minerals

  1. Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B11, C Calcium Phosphorus Iron Potassium Magnesium Manganese Sodium Zinc

What is sopropo good for?

  1. Naturopathy sees sopropo as a natural antibiotic. It is said to remove toxins from the blood and purify the blood. The blood purifying aspect is also said to be good against acne formation.

Eating and drinking sopropo

  1. First of all, it is important to know that fresh sopropo can easily be stored in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. This vegetable can be kept in its entirety for up to one week. The vegetables can be kept in the refrigerator for a maximum of one day when cut. As soon as the vegetable starts to feel limp, the sopropo can usually no longer be eaten. Freezing sopropo fresh or as part of an already processed meal is not recommended. The vegetables do not taste better after defrosting, it often becomes a soggy, soft substance.


  1. When the sopropo has passed the green stage, it can still be eaten. The riper the vegetable, the more bitter the taste. To be able to eat it anyway, you can neutralize this bitter taste somewhat by placing the vegetables in a salt water solution for about 20 minutes. You can also choose to provide the cut vegetables with some oil. This can also neutralize the taste somewhat. Spread the oil well with a brush and let it soak for a while. Ginger can also be a solution for the extremely bitter taste. Then dip the sopropo in a container with ginger juice for a while.

Drink sopropo

  1. If you don't feel like incorporating sopropo into your meal, you can always drink sopropo. Make a cup of tea, make a juice in the juicer or make a broth. In terms of preparation, it also applies here that everything can be used, except for the seeds.

Include in the meal

  1. Some examples of how you can use sopropo in the kitchen, both fresh and canned.


  1. As a snack you can eat the sopropo. Cut the seeds out of the fruit, make small cubes of the sopropo and place them briefly in a saltwater or ginger solution. After about twenty minutes you take them out, let the pieces drain on kitchen paper, if desired, add some spicy herbs to the pieces and with a slightly bitter taste you have a healthy snack. Incidentally, the canned sopropo has been in salt water for some time, so another salt water solution is not necessary in most cases.


  1. Sopropo can also be used in a lunch dish. Divide the sopropo into three to four pieces (do not use the butts only). Clean the outside of the vegetables thoroughly and carefully remove the seeds from the pieces of sopropo without breaking them. You then fill the round hole with a filling that you compose yourself using ingredients that have a strong taste.


  1. As part of the evening meal you can grill the sopropo and any other vegetables. A good combination with sopropo is bell pepper, a pepper, zucchini and onion. You can grill all these vegetables and combine them with potatoes or pasta, for example. If you still want to add some meat, combine it with a piece of marinated meat. Marinated to enhance the flavor.


  1. Sopropo may be an unknown vegetable, but one that can be used in different ways and fits perfectly into a healthy diet. According to many, it is even a superfood. As a snack or a full-fledged part of the meal, sopropo can expand the existing wide range of vegetables as we know them in the Netherlands.

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