By Emily Kang
An interesting new trend is sparking across social media, which is shining a spotlight on the Monstera deliciosa and its fruit. Originating from a TikTok video, multiple people discovered what has been coined, “the most dangerous fruit in the world” (Mr. Beast).
The monstera is a very sought after outdoor and indoor plant. It is commonly known for its beautiful leaves which exemplify its role as a popular ornamental plant. Aside from the plant’s contribution to decor, Monstera deliciosa also produces a unique tropical fruit.
The Monstera fruit is long and cylindrical in shape, resembling a pinecone which can reach lengths of approximately 20-30 centimeters. The fruit itself is encapsulated in a protective layer of disc-shaped platelets which flake off as the fruit ripens and the sweet flavor profile matures. Interestingly, Monstera deliciosa fruit contains calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals are used as a defense mechanism. If the Monstera fruit is consumed before it has fully ripened or if one was to manually remove the aforementioned platelets and consume the fruit prematurely the individual would experience significant irritation in the throat and mouth.
As the fruit matures, the platelets will turn from green to yellow and fall off. Picking and peeling off the platelets before the fruit is ripe will cause the fruit to rot instead of ripen. If the fruit is eaten before it is ripe, the consumer will start to experience an unpleasant reaction because of calcium oxalate crystals. Humans may experience an itchy and burning throat and mouth. When the Monstera fruit is eaten at the proper ripened stage, the fruit will taste like a mixture of bananas, mango, passion fruit, and guava (Spínola et al. 2015). What makes the fruit so tasty when ripe and why does it taste like a mixture of fruits?
In the study conducted by Spínola et al. 2015, there are various chemical compounds during the three different ripening stages which are determined by the state of the outer platelets. The unripe stage was characterized by the intact green platelets. The half-ripe stage was identified to be the green/yellow colored platelets that were loose but still attached. The ripe stage consisted of a fully exposed inner fruit, mature enough to consume.
Before the study, the compounds were identified as well as their functions:
- Ethyl butanoate: flavor
- Linalool: scent
- Ethyl hexanoate: scent
- Ethyl 2-methyl butanoate: flavor
- Butanoic acid: scent and flavor
- Ethyl benzoate: scent and flavor
- Propyl butanoate: scent
All of these compounds are also found in other tropical fruits. Each ripening stage contains different amounts of each compound, therefore different stages have different qualities. It was concluded that esters and terpenoids (naturally occurring organic molecules) are the main compounds found in the ripe fruit. Identification of tropical fruits is based on the volatile compositions of its esters and terpenoids. Thirty-eight new compounds were discovered during this study. The newly discovered information provides more context about the composition of the fruit. Identifying the compounds at different stages of ripening shows new information on the importance of the fruit’s aroma and taste. The discovered compounds show the relationship between the Monstera fruit and other tropical fruits. This is why the fruit of the Monstera is known to taste like a mixture of bananas, mangos, guava, and many other fruits.
Not only is the appearance of the Monstera appealing but also its fruit has fascinating characteristics. The different ripening stages contain different molecules that affect the taste and scents. When eaten at the correct ripen stage, the taste of the fruit will change. A fully ripe Monstera will be a mouth full of tropical fruit flavors.
“MrBeast on TikTok.” TikTok, https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTRxb5WBu/.
Vítor Spínola, Rosa Perestrelo, José S. Câmara, Paula C. Castilho, Establishment of Monstera deliciosa fruit volatile metabolomic profile at different ripening stages using solid-phase microextraction combined with gas chromatography–mass spectrometry, Food Research International, Volume 67, 2015, Pages 409-417, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2014.11.055