Miracle Fruit

miracle fruit

Miracle fruit refers to any of three plants that share the same common name: Synsepalum dulcificum, source of a berry that increases the perceived sweetness of foods; Gymnema sylvestre, source of an herb that reduces the perceived sweetness of foods; and Thaumatococcus daniellii, source of a spice that has an intensely sweet flavor. Recently, this phenomenon has enjoyed some revival in food-tasting events, referred to as ‘flavor-tripping parties.’ Tasters consume sour and bitter foods, such as lemons, radishes, pickles, hot sauce, and beer, to experience the taste changes that occur.

Synsepalum dulcificum produces berries that, when eaten, cause sour foods (such as lemons and limes) subsequently consumed to taste sweet. The berry itself has a low sugar content. This effect is due to a chemical called miraculin, which is used commercially as a sugar substitute. While the exact cause for this change is unknown, one theory is that miraculin works by distorting the shape of sweetness receptors so that they become responsive to acids, instead of sugar and other sweet things for 15–60 minutes.

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