What is the Miracle Berry?
Synsepalum dulcificum, more popularly known as the miracle berry, is a red berry native to tropical West Africa. The fruit is a small and bright red with an ellipsoid shape. It is only about 2 or 3 centimeters in diameter and contains a singular seed. Do not be fooled by its tiny size, because the miracle berry packs a big punch! Known best for its unique effect on the taste buds, the miracle berry causes foods that would usually be sour to taste exceedingly sweet. Though the fruit itself actually does not taste like much at all, the flavor of foods you consume afterward will surprise you. It is no wonder that the demand for the mysterious berry has been on the rise recently!
How do Miracle Berries Work?
Scientists have isolated the protein responsible for the extraordinary taste-altering effect of the coveted berry, dubbing the protein miraculin. To understand how this protein possesses the unique ability to change our perception of taste, let’s first consider how our taste buds respond under normal conditions. Our taste bunds contain several different types of receptors that help us discriminate between sweet, sour, bitter and savory tastes. So, for example, biting into a lime would cause your sour receptors to begin firing, signaling that the flavor you are detecting is sour. Miraculin binds strongly to these receptors found on the human tongue, rewiring your sweet receptors to identify acids as sugars instead. So now if you were to bite a lime, your sweet receptors would fire, making you perceive a sweet taste rather than sour! In this way, miracle berries can transform boring foods into delicious bursts of sweet flavor! This incredible effect can have huge implications for any dieters out there looking to make a lifestyle change. In many cases, healthy foods healthy are not always flavorful, making it difficult to consume the proper amount of vegetables. The miracle berry can completely transform the bland taste of an otherwise nutritious food, making a healthy alternative taste like a treat! Rather than using something like a fatty blue cheese dressing to add flavor to your salad, a simple squeeze of lime juice could make your low calorie meal taste delicious.
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A Brief History of the Miracle Berry
The miracle berry was initially discovered in 1725 by an explorer named Chevalier des Marchais. He noticed the native people peculiarly chewing them before meals, and quickly came to realize the natives were consuming the mysterious miracle berry to enhance the flavor of foods that were otherwise dull or sour in taste. Though the local population had been familiar with its miraculous properties for centuries, it wasn’t until 1968 that the miracle berry would be brought to the United States. There was an initial attempt to commercialize the fruit, but this attempt was quickly blocked by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, (FDA) who classified the berry as a “food additive.” Now, after several decades, the miracle berry is finally out of the FDA, rightfully classified as a “fruit” and in the hands of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Since then, the fruit has been steadily on the rise in popularity.
Characteristics and Harvesting
The miracle berry plant is a shrub that can grow up to 18 feet in its native habitat, though it rarely exceeds 5 feet in height otherwise. The tree has dense foliage, with wide green leaves clustered at the ends of the branches. The flowers of the tree are white, and it carries the precious red miracle berries. Despite the berry’s ability to make bland or sour foods taste deliciously sweet, the fruit is not sweet itself. But when the fleshy pulp coats the taste buds of the tongue and inside of the mouth, the extraordinary effect occurs. Miracle fruit is so special that even the way the fruit is harvested will determine the fruit’s effectiveness. Picking a ripe miracle fruit berry at the peak of freshness from the tree must be done within a short time frame of eating the fruit. Unlike other fruits, miracle fruit will only last for 24 hours or less before turning overripe or spoiled. Once miracle fruit is picked from the tree, either you need to eat the fruit right away or freeze-dry the fruit to preserve all the nutrients and proteins found in miracle fruit, making miracle fruit one of the world’s most expensive fruits to harvest and consume.
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Due to their origin in a tropical climate, the plant grows best in an environment free from frost and with high humidity. If kept indoors, the plant should be exposed to light, such as by a well-lit window, and if it is kept outside it should be in a warm, moderate to full shaded spot. The plant does well in a container with acidic soils with a pH in the range of as 4.5 to 5.8.
Be sure that the soil is well-draining, as the plants do not like to sit in wet soils. The plant requires a water-soluble fertilizer and should be fertilized more frequently during the summer months. A mix of homemade fertilizer is best to use as commercial fertilizer proves to be too harsh for such a fragile fruit. In general, there is no need to prune the miracle fruit plant.
Uses and Regulation
Historically, natives to West Africa used the miracle berry to sweeten the flavor of their foods, such as soured cornbread or palm wine. The berry continues to be used for similar purposes today. With the ability to alter tastes, miracle berries can be used for weight loss or diabetes, removing sugar from food without having to sacrifice flavor. Flavor tripping events have also risen in popularity, as people gather to consume the berry and then taste different foods together.
Now that the berry is in the hands of the USDA, United States citizens do not have to worry about regulation and can enjoy the berry and its miraculous effects.
Where Can I buy a Miracle Berry?
Due to miracle fruit being so hard to harvest and ship in fresh form, we at Ｍberry have made this process a bit easier for everyone. We offer miracle fruit tablets or freeze-dried form; check out our website to see for yourself! Mberry offers only the highest-quality hand-picked miracle berry products that are honest, innovative and 100% natural. As the world’s leading producer, distributor and promoter of miracle berry products, we are in the business of making life sweeter one miracle berry at a time.
Related: 10 Rare Fruits and How They Taste