Recently Lilly contacted me, who lives in the suburb of Tiwi and grows miracle fruit. I had heard of miracle fruit before, I had even tried these little fun fruits, when a farmer from the rural area bought some in to town. So what is the miracle about this fruit? Well Miracle fruits make sour things taste sweet and I went to check out how they grow, in a back yard amongst her chooks.
Miracle fruit comes from a shrub, Synsepalum dulcificum, that is native to tropical West Africa. This shrub grows up to six-meters tall, and has brown flowers with small red fruit or berries. If you pop one of these berries in your mouth, you chew on it and spit out the small seed, your tongue is then coated in the fleshy residue, you can then swallow the rest. The actual taste of the berry is not particularly sweet, just fairly neutral and a little weird. Now if you try a lime or lemon it will taste sweet not sour- it’s pretty wacky and well worth a go for the novelty. After I had got a few from Lilly we also tried beer, which changed its flavour, it is also suggested that you can try vinegar, wine, stinky cheeses and all kinds of sour things.. The effect will last up to half an hour.
So how does this miracle work? Well the fruit contains a glycoprotein called Miraculin, which rewires how the taste buds perceive sour flavours. Miraculin attaches to receptors for sweet taste without activating them until they are subjected to acid. Acids induce a change in the miraculin-attached receptors resulting in activation of the receptor. Hence, miraculin makes sweet receptors react when subjected to acids (Kurihara, 1992; Wong and Kern, 2011)
Miracle fruits are highly perishable and do not last long off the bush. In the US flavour tripping parties using miracle berries and a spread of combined sour or bitter foods to try after are popular.
If you want to try one, Lilly in Tiwi grows many trees in her back yard and they are fruiting maybe for just one more week! She sells them for $2 a try and small plants, so you can grow your own from $10. She has pots and pots of them and an orchard of them amongst her chooks. You can pop in on Sundays at 347 Trower Road, Nakara, or contact Lilly on 0405027697. or at firstname.lastname@example.org.