From time to time we get asked to explain why Monk Fruit carries a bit of a higher price tag in comparison to other sugar alternatives out there on the market. Therefore we thought we’d explain in a little more detail how this magical fruit transforms into this great-tasting 0 calorie super duper sugar alternative.
To begin with let’s rewind to the very beginning… luo han guo (Monk Fruit’s native name) was discovered by the Buddhist Monk’s thousands of years ago within the mountains of the Guilin area, Southern China. The sweet tasting fruit was believed by the Monks to bring long life and was renowned as being the ‘longevity fruit.’ The Guilin area is a perfect environment for the Monk Fruit to grow as the mountains are steep and provide optimal sunlight. The green melon type fruit also thrives in humid climates of about 60-80% humidity (yep for sure when we visit our hair goes all frizzy and wavy 🙂 ).
Today the fruit is still grown in Guilin by the local farmers. The mountainous range is about 2 hours away from the nearest city which helps to avoid city pollution. And the commute to the Monk Fruit planation site is about a 45 minute walk from the local villages. In order for the Monk Fruit plants to grow each and every plant requires a human hand to pollinate. Yep that’s right, to initiate these amazing green melons to appear a human hand is needed to kick start the process.
Throughout the year each plant is cared for and maintained to ensure that the fruits grown are nice and big and they become this lovely dewy green colour. The farmers use natural techniques to help stop those pesky bugs from getting near, for instance they use netting and bottle traps. In essence the farmers use the same technique to nurture the fruit as they have used for centuries. No pesticides are used.
Around September/October time the Monk Fruit’s will have matured and are ready to be harvested by the farmers. Once picked the fruit’s are then transported to the nearby factory where on arrival they are inspected for size, ripeness or mould. The fruit’s which have passed inspection are then washed, crushed and steeped in water. To remove the water, the fruit’s will then go through a filtration process which also separates the pulp and Mogrisides. Mogrosides are the elements within Monk Fruit which gives the fruit its sweetness, a bit like glucose molecules in sugar. The mogrosides are then concentrated into various forms, e.g. Buddha Fruit’s golden lo han guo which contains 25% MogrosideV and our lo han guo which contains 40% MogrosideV. To give you a little more understanding as to how many Monk Fruit’s are used in our golden lo han guo and lo han guo, each 1 fruit contains only 0.5% of MogrosideV. Therefore if we do the math our golden lo han guo contains about 50 of the melon-type fruits and lo han guo contains about 80, that’s a lot of Monk Fruit’s packed into our 20g packets! To avoid wastage the residual pulp is composted to be used by the local farmers.
So that the soil is fertile and for optimal growth of the fruit’s, the Monk Fruit plantation sites are rotated every 5 years. So it goes something like this… for 3 years the plantation area will only grow Monk Fruit. After these 3 years the farmers will begin to remove the pole and netting and saplings will be planted which will then allow the forest to regrow and our creepy crawly friends to be free in their natural habitat.
So basically there’s a lot of amazing humans, time and love to bring to you this amazing sweetener which certainly packs a punch in terms of sweetness!
As always, thanks for reading 🙂