The miracle berry or miracle fruit is a little red berry that changes the way our taste buds respond to acids. When a berry is chewed, the tongue becomes coated with a protein called miraculin. Miraculin alters the taste buds for 30 minutes to two hours causing lemon juice to taste sweet and goat cheese tastes like cheesecake. Even Tabasco sauce tastes like a sugar glaze.
Miracle fruit is not new. West African tribes have been eating these berries for hundreds of years and they have been known by the West for nearly 300 years.
In the 1970s the Miralin Company tried to bring miracle fruit products to the U.S. market. Initial conversations with the FDA were favorable for approving miracle fruit under the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) Category, the category used by the FDA for foods that have a long history of being eaten with no deleterious side effects. Since miracle berries had been eaten for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, they clearly met the requirements for this approval. But as the time neared for the FDA’s final ruling, strange events occurred. Miralin employees reported they were followed home by strange cars. Their offices were photographed. Files were stolen in a break-in. Anonymous articles were printed in a Jamaican newspaper (where the company owned berry farms) bashing the company and the product. Within weeks Miralin’s request for GRAS status was denied. The Miralin Company never did succeed in bringing miracle fruit products to market. Due to the FDA ruling, the company folded. The FDA denies the claim that pressure from the artificial sweetener companies or the sugar industry led to their unfavorable ruling.
Today the miracle berry is once again gaining attention. Freeze dried tablets and fresh berries can be purchased through the Internet. Fresh berries sell for $2.00-$2.50 each and have a short shelf life. Freeze dried tables sell for around $15.00 for a pack of 18.
If these prices are too steep, consider growing your own. Miracle berry plants are an attractive leafy evergreen with shiny leaves, which can be grown in frost-free climates as well as indoors. If planted in the right soil and carefully tended, they will bear fruit within three years.
So, if you’re interested in taste-tripping, include miracle berries and a taste-treat buffet for your next party.