Friday, January 31, 2014

The Miracle Fruit

I received "miracle berry" tablets for a Yankee Swap gift this year. My boyfriend and I finally got around to experimenting with them, so I wanted to share with all of you. Also referred to as miracle fruit, Synsepalum dulcificum is a plant with a berry that when eaten, makes sour foods taste very sweet. The berry can be dried and put into tablets for longer shelf life. The effect is due to a protein, miraculin.
Miraculin binds to the sweet receptors on the tongue and it's effects last as long as the protein is bound to the tongue, which can be up to an hour. After scouring the internet to get a list of the best foods to try we went off to the grocery store.
It originates from West Africa, but has been used around the world to make foods taste sweet without adding calories or sugar.  In fact in Japan it has been popular for people dieting and with diabetes. Cancer patients, who experience taste changes due to medications and chemo treatment have used it, but there hasn't been much reserach about its safety or efficiacy. In the 1970s the FDA put a halt to the commercialization due to it being classified as a "food additive".

On our list:
Lemons, limes, grapefruit, strawberries, green apple, kiwi, orange
Tomatoes, broccoli
Plain Greek yogurt, blue cheese, goat cheese, cottage cheese
Pickles, kalamata olives
Guiness beer

The lemons, limes, and grapefruit were by far the most different from their very sour selves. They tasted like candies or very sweet lemon or limeade. The other fruits also tasted much sweeter, like they were sugar-coated.
Tomatoes tasted sweeter and absolutely delicious, the broccoli, tasted like broccoli- no miracle there.
Plain greek yogurt was markedly sweeter, like vanilla Greek yogurt. The other cheeses did not seem to change.
Pickles and olives did not really change- we thought the vinegar/acidity may be affected, but we were wrong there!
Guiness beer tasted very creamy and sweet, with strong chocolate and caramel flavors. I liked it better!
It was fun to try all the foods and compare the differences. Will I use it on a regular basis? No, its fairly expensive ($1.00 +per tablet) and want to appreciate foods, as they are in nature. Was it fun? Yes, and I hope to try it again with some friends in the future. Perhaps in rhubarb season!

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