Monk fruit. You know the name, but what exactly is it?Also known as lo han guo or Swingle fruit, monk fruit is, in simple terms, a small round fruit native to southern China.
Used for centuries in Eastern medicine as a cold and digestive aid, monk fruit is now also used to sweeten foods and beverages. You might be thinking to yourself: Exactly how are these sweeteners created? Great question!
“Monk fruit sweeteners are created by removing the seeds and skin of the fruit, crushing the fruit, and collecting the juice,” according to Food Insight. These sweeteners are relatively healthy, too: Containing zero calories per serving, monk fruit sweeteners are permitted for use in foods and beverages by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Overall, monk fruit sweeteners are 150-200 times sweeter than sugar, contributing sweetness without the… well, dreadful calories. This means you can utilize monk fruit in your baking and not feel as guilty!
That said, a food containing monk fruit sweeteners may be slightly different in appearance, texture, and taste than the same food made with sugar. This is because sugar contributes to the structure and texture of foods, while monk fruit does not.
Generally speaking, only very small amounts of monk fruit sweeteners are needed to achieve the sweetness of sugar.
“To make measuring and pouring easier, they are typically blended with common approved food ingredients,” according to Food Insight. “This is why a packet of monk fruit sweeteners seems equal in quantity to a packet of table sugar, for example.”
And there you have it, folks: everything you need to know about monk fruit! Well, not everything… but, you know, the important stuff.
Cheers— and as always, happy eating!