Happy Friday – It’s A Miracle (Berry)!

Miracle Berries!  (Not a picture of my plant...)

Miracle Berries! (Not a picture of my plant…)

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.

From wikipedia:

“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.

My miracle berry plant! I call him Beri. =)

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?

8 comments to Happy Friday – It’s A Miracle (Berry)!

  • Ah, I thought that fruit looked familiar! I remember when there were some trend pieces going around about people in NYC throwing miracle berry parties, where you’d pop a berry, then try a variety of foods. I’ve never had one, but I’ve always wanted to try it. I hope your plant grows gangbusters!
    Norm recently posted..Cheapskate Analysis: Fans Vs. Air ConditionerMy Profile

  • I had no idea such a thing existed. How cool!

    I wonder how they’d fare in AZ…or in a pot inside?
    Done by Forty recently posted..Linear Assumptions are BullshitMy Profile

  • That’s awesome! Never heard of them before, but now I really want to try it.

    My Friday is happy because we are planning on a hot date night at home of pizza and an episode of Game of Thrones, following our trek to Costco… ahhh yes, it’s the simple things that I adore.

    Enjoy munching your berry! Hopefully there’ll be more soon.
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted..I Need A Gift For My Anniversary Like Frugal Hound Needs A BicycleMy Profile

  • Lol, “miraculin”, who came up with that name?

    Pretty interesting though, I’d love to taste one of these miracle berries!
    Stockbeard recently posted..Average Retirement savings – are you saving enough to retire?My Profile

  • Fascinating! We are having a very happy Friday indeed as the interior of our house is finally all set up! Yay! All the wall hangings are up, Craigslist couch and chair and looking inviting, swamp cooler is functioning, music is available through the ceiling speakers that came with the house, and Mr. FP has indulged a dream of many years by buying a piano.

    AND we had the yummiest dinner tonight. I cooked a pork tenderloin in root beer in the crockpot and served it with homemade potato salad (sooooo good), homemade barbeque sauce, and steamed green beans from the farmers’ market.
    Frugal Paragon recently posted..Thank Goodness It’s Shorts Season, or My War with Preschooler PantsMy Profile

  • Lisa

    Wow, You guys are good. My second comment on your blog in a day!?!? I honestly am one of those people that bloggers probably hate–I almost never comment, but I AM a loyal reader (if that even matters to bloggers). Anyway, I love exotic plants, and the Fruit & Spice Park is awesome (I lived in S.Florida for 8 years). If you were my neighbor, I’d be begging you for a cutting right now. Such a cool plant! I’ve been slowly adding exotic (but non-invasive!) plants in my Florida yard since we bought our fixer upper a couple years ago. I had to leave behind several beloved plants in my South Florida house when we moved, including some I started from seeds I collected at Flamingo Gardens, so it was especially sad to leave them behind because of all the work it took. The Miracle Berry is truly a super exotic. Great Job!

    • Two comments in one day! I feel so special. =) And yay for another fan of the Fruit and Spice Park. I feel like it doesn’t get enough billing compared to Fairchild.
      What kind of other plants are you adding to your yard? Our front yard is dominated by a 50′ live oak, which can make growing anything else under its expanse of shade a bit of a challenge, so I’m always on the lookout for plants that grow well in our soil. (FWIW, Miracle Berry is not in planted the ground and likely never will be at our house. Just under the top soil we’ve basically got beach sand complete with shells, which, though I haven’t tested it, is probably pretty alkaline and Miracle Berries need acidic soil to thrive.)

  • Lisa

    That is one massive tree you have! I’m sure it is beautiful! We have 4 oak trees on our property as well, and it can be a challenge. I find the massive amount of roots more of a challenge than the shade. Not only is it more economical, but using small divisions from one plant is the only way I can get some plants established among the massive Oaks’ root system. There is just no way I’m going to be able to dig a hole large enough for a 3 or 5 gallon plant.

    I’ve found after gardening in Florida for around 15 years that even some plants that are marked “full sun” appreciate some shade, especially the dappled light that oaks provide. Coleus can live year round here, comes in fantastic colors, easy to propagate in a glass of water, and is easy to trim and keep in line. Other possibilities include planting bulbs of caladiums (cheap to buy online or at the Leu Gardens plant sale in May, here in Orlando), Flax Lily, Bromeliads (love shade, shallow root system, amazing blooms). I rescue the bromeliads at garden centers that they practically give away once they aren’t blooming any longer. Put them in the ground in the right spot, and they will be bloom once again. :) Don’t forget to mount a few orchids in your tree. There aren’t too many places you can do that, and it’s gorgeous!

    I too, have the same sandy, overly alkaline soil here. It’s been a battle. Compost is the answer, but takes time. I don’t blame you on the Miracle Berry. It’s much easier to control its environment in a pot, especially if it’s a special plant you don’t want to lose. I have a Camellia next to my lanai that needs acidic soil that I have to baby because it’s in the ground. I use an acidic fertilizer, a supplement, compost, and mulch it with pine bark because it’s more acidic. So far, its rewarded me every winter with gorgeous blooms.

    Good luck with your garden! Florida is a unique climate, but can be very rewarding once you get the hang of it. I’ve enjoyed gardening here the most out of all the places I’ve lived.