Monk fruit is small in size, averaging 5-7 centimeters in diameter, and has a uniform, round to oval shape. The smooth rind is green and firm when fresh, sometimes covered in fine hairs, and as it is dried, it transforms into a brown hue with a hard and brittle consistency. Underneath the dried, thin shell, the pulp is also brown and delicate, encasing elongated and round, brown seeds. Monk fruit is predominately utilized dried and has a very sweet flavor mixed with a subtle astringent aftertaste.
Monk fruit is available year-round.
Monk fruit, botanically classified as Siraitia Grosvenorii, is a small fruit that grows on climbing vines that can reach over five meters in length and belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. Mainly found in China, Monk fruit is commonly grown by hand on small family farms and thrives in sub-tropical regions along mountainsides. Despite its popularity as a global herbal aid, Monk fruit is difficult to grow, ferments quickly, and is highly perishable, only offered fresh on rare occasions in local markets around the farms in China. Outside of the local markets, Monk fruit is predominately dried and is sold in pieces or is ground and marketed as a healthy sweetener.
Monk fruit contains mogrosides, which are natural antioxidants that give the fruit its sweet flavor and are approximately two hundred times sweeter than sugar. This flavoring provides a sweet taste without elevating blood sugar levels. Monk fruit is also a good source of vitamin C, which helps boost immunity within the body.
When fresh, the pulp of Monk fruit can be consumed, but the fruit spoils quickly and must be eaten immediately after harvest. Monk fruit is more commonly dried, boiled, and used as a sweetener for drinks and food, found in liquid form, condensed into granules, or made into a powder. When flavoring beverages, Monk fruit can be added to smoothies, teas, coffee, and lemonade and is mixed with honey for added flavor. The fruit can also be incorporated into soups such as pork shank or watercress, or it can be mixed into sauces, cereals, brownies, cookies, and salad dressings. In China, Monk fruit is popularly used during the Chinese New Year to make a green tea monk fruit jelly mooncake. Monk fruit pairs well with almonds, ginger, dates, carrots, cabbage, watercress, butternut squash, and mushrooms. Dried Monk fruit will keep up to three years when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.