Only dried whole fruit is occasionally available
Unless you live in a remote part of southern China you’re going to have a very hard time finding fresh monk fruit for sale. Monk fruit rapidly decomposes once it is picked and must be either dried or processed immediately after harvest.
Dried monk fruit is widely available in China due to its use in Chinese herbal medicine. However, in the western world it is very rare. The unprocessed dried fruit has an odd flavour that is not particularly appealing.
Monk fruit sweeteners are available online
Monk fruit based sweeteners are available online. There is a wide and growing selection of different types at various price points.
When selecting a monk fruit sweetener for purchase you need to check for three key attributes.
USDA certified organic
People that purchase monk fruit based sweeteners are doing so because they care about their health. Many companies outsource their manufacturing to China with no control and auditing to ensure a safe product.
These unregulated and untested products are prone to contamination and typically use inferior ingredients.
When you purchase a USDA certified organic monk fruit sweetener you can be assured that the complete production chain from cultivation of the fruit, to processing, to shipping to storage has been inspected and certified by the USDA.
USDA certified organic product needs to pass rigorous quality and contamination checks.
Zero calorie additives
Pure monk fruit extract is extremely sweet and needs to be diluted so that it may be used as a 1:1 replacement for sugar. Some manufacturers such as ‘Monk Fruit in the Raw’ will use maltodextrin or similar additives to dilute the monk fruit extract.
The problem is that maltodextrin has approximately the same number of calories and glycemic index as sugar!
Replacing sugar with high levels of maltodextrin will raise your blood glucose, take you out of ketosis and potentially increase diabetic complications.
Erythritol is commonly used to dilute the monk fruit extract.
There are several ways to produce erythritol. The cheapest way uses “enzymatically hydrolyzed genetically modified corn” which is just as healthy as it sounds. This post has more detail.
Premium monk fruit sweetener products use non-GMO materials and a natural fermentation process to ensure the highest quality erythritol with as few impurities as possible.