Have you heard about the miracle berry? This unique berry from west Africa has the ability to alter your sweetness perception of certain foods. When consumed, it allows sour and bitter tasting foods such as lemons to be perceived as sweet. Lindsey Toth and I decided to do a little test run using mberry, a tablet of concentrated dried miracle berries as opposed to buying the actual berries themselves.
We tasted: Rosemary, Brie, Sour Patch Kids, Taco Bell Fire Sauce, Ketchup, Cream Cheese, Worcestershire Sauce, Apple Cider Vinegar, Goat Cheese, Swiss Cheese, Limes, Champagne Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar, Tomato, Grey Poupon, Lay’s Salt & Vinegar Chips, Tabasco, Chili Pepper, Grapefruit, Guinness, Lemons, Balsamic Vinegar, Fat-Free Cottage Cheese, Pineapple, Cantaloupe and Grapes.
The citrus fruits were by far our favorites- they tasted like sweet sweet lemonade/limeade/candied grapefruit. The cheese tasted like cheese and the rosemary tasted like rosemary. The vinegars had a pronounced sweetness to them as did the tomatoes. mberry also recommends trying radishes, pickles, apples, strawberries, pineapple and sauerkraut. When the NY Times ran an article on flavor tripping parties (legal ecstasy for the mouth) with the miracle berry, they served well tequila, brussel sprouts, lemon sorbet and much more.
Why does the miracle berry work? Miraculin. Miraculin is a glycoprotein that binds to the tongue’s taste receptors, distorting our sweetness perception. Our receptors sense the acidic foods being consumed are actually sweet. This phenomenon can last 30 minutes or up to 2 hours but lasted roughly 45 minutes in our case. The exact mechanism caused by this berry is still unknown but research is being done, especially surrounding diabetes and dieting.
Remember, our tongue only recognizes the 5 tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami*. Flavor is developed when our olfactory sense is combined. The term taste, although sometimes synonymous with flavor, really only describes the tongue’s perception of food. The human body can detect and remember thousands of specific flavors, which is why we can associate specific meals with memories so vividly.
*P.S. Have you heard about umami paste?
So far the FDA has ruled the miracle berry as a food additive. This means the fruit can be grown in the US but it can’t be used in the production of any foods. Want to learn more? Go here and eat responsibly, too much acidic food can cause stomachaches and mouth ulcers. Let the flavor tripping begin!