Nearly a year and a half ago, I mentioned on our February 2014 Income Statement post that the best purchase made that month was a small Miracle Fruit cutting that I picked up at a local Tropical Fruit club sale. That purchase is paying some happiness dividends these days.
I first tried miracle berries about eight years ago on a visit to the Fruit and Spice Park, an awesome botanical garden in Homestead, south of Miami. Back then, I saved the seeds of the berries that I ate and tried to grow my own plants so I could enjoy even more miracle berries. Sadly, I failed.
What Are Miracle Fruit?
The miracle fruit (aka miracle berry) plant is an evergreen bush that originates from West Africa. While it’s not a bad looking little bush, the berries are the truly special part of the miracle fruit plant and what I spent years wanting to grow.
“The berry itself has a low sugar content and a mildly sweet tang. It contains a glycoprotein molecule, with some trailing carbohydrate chains, called miraculin. When the fleshy part of the fruit is eaten, this molecule binds to the tongue’s taste buds, causing sour foods to taste sweet. At neutral pH, miraculin binds and blocks the receptors, but at low pH (resulting from ingestion of sour foods) miraculin binds protons and becomes able to activate the sweet receptors, resulting in the perception of sweet taste. This effect lasts until the protein is washed away by saliva (up to about 30 minutes).”
Basically, you pop a miracle berry in your mouth and suck on it, letting the flesh of the fruit coat the inside of your mouth. Then, for about half an hour, the sour and bitter receptors in your mouth are blocked, letting only the sweet elements of whatever you eat after that through. Lemons taste like lemonade, spicy salsa tastes sweet, and coke nearly makes you gag with sweetness (if it didn’t already before).
It’s an absolute ton of fun. And it’s Donald Rumsfeld’s fault that we haven’t all been enjoying miracle berries for decades. Well, according to the Huffington Post, that is.
Long story short, miracle berries were deemed a “food additive” instead of a “food” by the FDA, and as such have been subject to strange regulations that really prevented them from becoming more mainstream for nearly forty years.
But now I have my own supply of the berries! Well, kindof.
See this little tiny berry? Look closely. In the center of the orange circle, taking up ~1/4 of the diameter of the circle. It’s about 5 mm long and still has quite a ways to go (they are the size of grape tomatoes when mature) before it’ll be ripe enough to turn lemons into lemonade (in my mouth!), but it’s my very first little home grown miracle berry that I am checking in on daily to watch it grow. And it’s what is making me oh-so-happy this Friday!
What’s the cause of your Happy Friday this week?