Food tripping with Miraculin

1 Mar

Miracle berry I found out about the miracle berry (Synespalum dulcificum) from my dad who forwarded me this article  on a craze in New York called Food Tripping. Partygoers would munch on this berry and bounce down the rabbit hole of food sensations. 

This was right down my alley of food, new crazes, a little bit of chemistry and just a little bit out there to be a fun party trick. I secured a plant from Daley’s Fruit Nursery. planted it and gave it tender loving care waiting for my berries. And now, after 5 long years I have a plant full of berries. (I recently learnt the flowers can self-pollinate but sometimes a gentle shake of the tree helps – not sure if that’s what has kicked it into gear).

The miracle berry alters your tastebuds so that it blocks sour flavours and makes them taste sweet. It does this because it has a glycoprotein called miraculin and with foods that are low in PH (acidic) they bind to and block the receptors so that sweet can be tasted. The miraculin protein will stay bound for about 45 – 60min giving you lots of chances to try different foods. (Wikipedia)

It’s a native of western Africa isn’t without controversy. In the 1970’s there were attempts to commercialise the berry but there was resistance from the sugar industry (some say sabotage). Unfortunately though miraculin doesn’t like heat and doesn’t last long once it’s picked. Some people are selling it frozen or dried though reports suggest it’s not that great a result.

The berry is about 2cm long and the flesh is much like a lychee with a big slimy seed in the middle. The fruit itself is quite palatable but you’d need a fair amount to get even close to a serve of fruit in your diet. 

In our first experiment we tried it with:

  • Lemon- no bitterness. Could eat it like an orange. We likened the flavours to flat lemonade
  • Grapefruit – much the same as the lemon though the flavour wasn’t as different. 
  • Lychees & Grapes – no discernible change
  • Granny Smith Apple – no real change but my wife ate it prior to the berry it was one of those rare non-bitter granny smiths. 
  • Black coffee (instant) – my wife being a non-coffee drinker found the coffee bearable. I found it quite like a milked coffee with sugar.

Miracle Berry fruit platter

Some people have asked does it numb your tongue? No it doesn’t There’s no real effect at all other than the sweetness of the berry. It’s not until you chow down on a lemon for instance that you realise it’s actually working. 

I read one “party trick” where you take a guest around your garden asking them to taste various plants. At some point get them to taste the miracle berry then move onto the lemon. You can exclaim that you have found a new and rare type of lemon that tastes just like lemonade. 

Some other food suggestions I’ve found that I want to try are:

  • Beer – apparently it can make it taste like lemonade as well. 
  • Blue cheese
  • Onion 
  • Raid the alcohol cabinet with frangelico, sambucca etc. 

I’ve even come across a book titled “The Miracle Berry Diet Cookbook” and they suggest:

  • Tomatoes will taste perfectly ripe
  • Banana’s will have hints of passionfruit or pineapple
  • Hot sauce will have layers of peppery flavours – not just heat. 
  • Pineapple will taste like candy. 

Have you tried this miracle fruit? Either way what types of food, or combinations of food do you think would be a trip? I’m happy to put my body on the line in the name of science. 


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