The Fruit from Heaven
This unique tropical melon comes from Southeast Asia and is known forits spiky, bright orange-red fruit, which can grow to the size ofcantaloupes. The Vietnamese refer to gấc fruit as "the fruit fromheaven" because it comes loaded with nutrients - antioxidants in particular. Gac fruit contains 10 times more beta-carotene than carrots, 70 times more lycopene than tomatoes, and 60 times more vitamin C than oranges by weight. Seriously, gấc fruit is truly the most super of super fruits!
The history and background
|Scientific Name||Momordica cochinchinensis|
|Common Names||Spiny cucumber, balsam pear, baby jackfruit, spiny bitter gourd, sweet gourd, qua guc (in Vietnamese)|
|Annual or Perennial?||Perennial|
|Plant Type||Dioecious vine (male and female needed to make fruit)|
|Plant Size||6 meters|
|Growing Zone(s)||9 and above|
|Growing Requirements: Temperature||60 degrees F minimum|
|Growing Requirements: Soil||Well-draining|
|Growing Requirements: Sunlight||Prefers full sun, but shade tolerant|
|Growing Requirements: Water||-|
|Gac Fruit & Uses|
|Weight (Individual Fruit)||1-3.5 lbs|
|Fruiting Season||2 months|
|Fruit Size & Shape||4-5" in diamter; Spherical, oblong|
|Edible Parts||Red flesh around the seeds (the exterior is toxic!)|
|Fruit Taste||Cucumber, mild tomato, avocado, slight nuttiness|
|Ripens Off the Vine?||No|
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Gac Seeds & Cuttings
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How Do You Grow a Gac Plant?
Steps to Grow Gac
- To germinate a gấc plant, cut off a small portion of the hard exterior of the seed.
- Soaking it in water for 10 hours can help speed up germination.
- Plant the seed in shallow, well-draining soil, cut side down (this is where the vine will emerge). Gấc seeds can be slow to germinate and can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks to do so.
- Placing it in a warm area with plenty of air circulation and bright light will help. Keep the seedling inside for about another 4 weeks.
- Plant outside after the last frost or re-pot and keep in a greenhouse. Plants will get big, so use a 5-gallon container at minimum.
- Flowers emerge after 2 months, and fruit after another 5-6 months. The fruiting season is relatively short, only about 2 months.
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How Do I Get My Gấc Plant to Produce Fruit?
We recommend trying to grow at least 6 plants to ensure pollination.
For those who have both male and female plants, hand pollination of gac flowers is possible, with a little patience. Flowers open early in the morning. Take the pollen from a male flower that has opened and brush it inside an open female flower.
How Many Years Before My Gấc Plant Produces Fruit?
On average, about 2-3 years. The vines only fruit once a year, and for only 2 months, making this a highly seasonal plant.
When Do I Pick the Fruit?
Pick the gấc fruit when it changes from green to a bright orange-red color, and when the spiny exterior becomes soft. This fruit does not ripen off the vine, so don't pick it too early!
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How to Eat Gac
How Do You Eat a Gấc Fruit?
Only the creamy red flesh which surrounds the seeds (called the arils) inside of the gấc fruit can be eaten. While you can cut one open and scoop it out to taste it - and it is eaten this way served alongside ice cream in Thailand - gấc fruit is often incorporated into other dishes. In Vietnam, the pulp from gấc fruit is cooked and mixed into sticky rice to make a celebratory dish called xôi gac. In Sri Lanka, gac is used in curry. All across Asia, gac fruit is enjoyed as a healthy juice.
Gấc fruit can also be consumed in other forms, such as a powder added to smoothies, coffee or tea, or even as a salad topping. Aside from powder form, you can find gấc oil supplements, gấc puree, and gấc concentrate.
What Does Gấc Fruit Taste Like?
Despite its striking red flesh, gấc fruit has a rather mild flavor with very subtle hints of cucumber. Some say it doesn't taste much like anything, and barely sweet, if at all. Its texture is smooth and creamy like that of an avocado.
What are the Potential Health Benefits of Gấc Fruit?
Traditionally, gấc fruit, seeds, and leaves have been valued among Asian cultures for its medicinal and nutritional properties. In Vietnam, the seed membranes have been used to treat dry eyes, burns, skin rashes and wounds.
Scientific analysis of the nutrient content in gac fruit has confirmed what thousands of years of traditional medicane has known. Gac fruit has a high content of antioxidant carotenoids as well as important amounts of fatty acids, pro-vitamin A, vitamin E, carbohydrates and even protein. Speifically, the red edible seed coat of gac fruit is an extraordinary source of dietary lycopene and beta-carotene. As a precursor for vitamin A, beta-carotene contributes to better vision by supporting retina health as well as better immunity.