February 28, 2013
The Siraitia grosvenorii has many names: luo han guo or luo han kuo in China, sometimes lohoguo in Hong Kong, la han qua in Vietnam, the monk fruit, the arhat fruit, and the Buddha fruit; it is also one of several that is called the longevity fruit.
Monk fruits have been used for centuries as a treatment for diabetes and obesity. They contain an extract that is close to 300 times sweeter than sugar. Glucose and fructose are further sweetened by the presence of mogrosides–predominantly esgoside (mogroside V).
A monk fruit is technically a cucurbit that grows on a vine. (Think squashes and the like.)
The interior pulp of the fruit is eaten fresh when the fruit is green. Monk fruits harvested prematurely ripen on the way to market. Off flavors quickly result, and over-ripening exacerbates the poor flavor of the aromas present. Solvents remove these aromas from industrially prepared purees.
It is not uncommon to find dried and brown monk fruits for sale. Heat-assisted drying also removes many of the aforementioned aromas but creates a host of other bitter and astringent tastes.
Drying does not affect the sweetness. The bitter rind can be dried for preservation and finds use in the sweet luohan guo tea.
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