Did you know that there if a kind of fruit that when eaten makes any sour food taste sweet? It is called the miracle berry, also known as miracle fruit and it is native to West Africa. The first recorded use of the miracle berry was in 1725 when a French cartographer who was exploring West Africa noted its use by the local people who would chew the fruit before meals.
How does the miracle berry work?
The miracle berry itself has a low sugar content and a mildly sweet tang. The fruit contains a glycoprotein called miraculin, that when the flesh of the fruit is chewed, will bid to the tongue’s taste buds. When this happens it causes sour food to taste sweet. When the pH is neutral the miraculin will block the receptors, and when it is low, such as when sour food is consumed, it binds protons and activates sweet receptors, giving the perception of sweet taste. The effects of the fruit last until it is washed away with saliva, which is usually about 60 minutes.
Given its ability to make food taste sweet, yet have a low sugar content, one would think that it would make a perfect choice for a sweetener of foods, especially for diabetics. During the 970’s there was an attempt to commercialize the berry as a low calorie sweetener, but the US FDA ruled the berry as an additive, thwarting the plans. For short period of time during the same decade there was a pill form of miraculin. You can purchase miracle berry pills today as a novelty item.
Thankfully you can grow the fruit yourself. It requires soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.8, a frost free environment and partial shade with high humidity. The plant will tolerate drought and full sunshine. The plants will produce fruit twice a year after growing for about three to four years. The fruit must be consumed within three days.