Miracle fruit berries refer to the small, red berries of the Synsepalum dulcificum plant. People call it miracle fruit because it can turn sour-tasting food to taste sweet. This is the work of a protein found inside the fruit known as miraculin.
Species: S. dulcificum
Binomial name: Synsepalum dulcificum
Miracle Fruit Berry Trivia
- Miracle fruit berry is also called miracle fruit, miracle berry, miraculous berry, sweet berry, magic berry, and flavor berry,
- In West Africa where the miracle fruit berry plant originates, locals call it by different names, like agbayun, taami, asaa, and ledidi.
- Modern medicine made it possible to synthesize the miraculin in the miracle fruit berry to create miraculin tablets a.k.a taste tripping pills.
- Miracle fruit berries are in the EU list of novel foods.
Miracle Fruit Berry Buying Guide
If you are buying miracle fruit berries, you can look for fresh berries or miracle fruit berry tablets. But don’t get your hopes up in finding fresh miracle fruit berries in the supermarket or grocery because this is not commonly sold in commercial outlets. Finding miracle fruit berries at the supermarket or grocery store is not as easy as finding apples or oranges or bananas.
You are lucky if there is a local grower that harvests enough miracle fruit berries to sell in the farmers market. The next best thing is to buy freeze-dried miracle fruit berries. You can find this in specialty stores. Or buy this from online vendors.
Freeze-dried fruits are pricey. It is ok to buy small quantities. You don’t normally eat a bowl of it in one sitting like how you would eat blueberries, but that is good because miracle fruit berries are not cheap in the US.
In the US, miracle fruit berries are not approved by the FDA as food that qualifies as GRAS – Generally Recognized as Safe. Instead, FDA classified this as a food additive which means the use of this item should be regulated and only in specified amounts.
Conspiracy theorists theorized some kind of collusion that involved the government and sugar business owners. If this becomes the new sweetener, many businesses will crash, so they made sure this does not happen, and this explains why Biochemist Robert Harvey and his miracle fruit berry-based sweetener company Miralin Company failed despite the backing of prominent businesses like Reynolds, Prudential, and Barclay’s.
If you are thinking about buying miracle fruit berry seeds, make sure to sow them as soon as possible because the seeds do not store well.
Miracle Fruit Berry Production & Farming in Texas
The miracle fruit plant needs soil with a pH ranging from 4.5 to 5.8 for the plant to survive and do well. This plant will suffer when there is frost, and it prefers high humidity and partial shade although it is known that this plant can tolerate being exposed to full sunshine and drought spells. Miracle fruit berry plants grow in USDA Zone 10b and 11. They can grow up to 12 feet. You can grow miracle fruit berry plants in containers. This plant can tolerate full sun, partial shade, and light shade. This plant has a white flower and seeds the size of coffee beans. Expect your first harvest of fruits three to four years after planting.
An online article identified five locations in Texas where miracle fruit berry plants are grown – Burton, Frisco, Houston, Katy, and Manvel.
Chemicals are important in growing a miracle fruit plant because this plant is vulnerable to certain diseases and pests.
- Mealybugs – You can use 70% isopropyl alcohol or apple cider vinegar to kill mealybugs. Bug sprays are also effective against this pest.
- Spider mites – To get rid of spider mites, use neem oil and apply it through foliar spraying. It contains azadirachtin which is effective against spider mites. You can also use horticultural oil (which also targets aphids and thrips). Pests die after exposure to horticultural oil due to suffocation since the oil blocks the spiracles through which insects breathe. Another effect of horticultural oils is disrupting the metabolism of insect eggs. Lastly, horticultural oils disrupt the insect’s ability to feed. As a result, the insect starves to death. Using pyrethrin spray is also an effective method against spider mites. Another option is spinosad, a mixture of two chemicals called spinosyn A and spinosyn D typically used to control a wide variety of pests.
- Fruit flies – Use insecticide fogs. Examples are CB80 and PT 565 Pyrethrum Aerosol.
- The fungus Rigidoporus microporus causing root rot – Use fungicides with active ingredient thiophanate-methyl (or others in the benzimidazole group – MOA 3). This can be avoided by making sure the plant is not overwatered and the soil drains well to avoid waterlogged soil.
Miracle fruit berry originates in West Africa. Explorer Chevalier Des Marchais was the first to document the existence of this fruit during the 18th century while mapping the Kingdom of Whydah (present-day Benin), where he saw the locals eating this fruit they picked from the shrubs, the fruit unknown to him, a Frenchman.
An online article identified locations in the US where miracle fruit berry plants are grown – in Corona, Goleta, Mountain View, Simi Valley, and Tulare (California); Farmington (Connecticut); Bear (Delaware); in Bartow, Boca Raton, Bradenton, Brandon, Cape Coral, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Homestead, Ocala, Ocoee, Orlando, Palmetto, Saint Petersburg, Sarasota, Venice, West Palm Beach, and Winter Park (Florida); Stockbridge (Georgia); Honomu (Hawaii); Brooklyn (New York); and in Burton, Frisco, Houston, Katy, and Manvel (Texas).
You can buy freeze-dried and seedless miracle fruit berries sold in either a resealable stand-up, food-safe pouch bag or in a small plastic container with a lid.
Enjoying Miracle Fruit Berries
We eat fruits because they are delicious, refreshing, filling, and satisfying. In the case of miracle fruit berries, we eat this fruit primarily because we want to enjoy the sweet flavor it offers us after eating it. For an optimal experience, make sure to clean your palate first with a sip of water. Chew the fruit well to allow the broken-down fruit to coat the inside of your mouth before swallowing it. This is important if you want to experience the fruit’s “miraculous” ability to summon sweet flavors even from sour foods!
You’d think because it can make food taste sweet that it is not advisable for diabetics who are discouraged to eat sweets, but on the contrary, diabetics and those who are trying to prevent diabetes should eat this fruit. It will make sour food taste sweet but it only has 0.04g of sugar per berry, even lower compared to a blueberry.
When you eat a miracle fruit berry, the effect of tasting sour food as sweet can last from 15 minutes to an hour. You can eat this if you are eating citrus fruits, unsweetened yogurt, tomatoes, mustard, pickles, sour sauces, fruits, or cheese, and prefer a sweet taste instead of the sour taste.
When you are craving something sweet and you use miracle fruit berries, you are developing a good habit that can help you cut your consumption of sugar in the long run.
If you have fresh miracle fruit berries, it is best to refrigerate them. Freeze-dried miracle fruit berries are shelf-stable. Just make sure to always keep the container or packaging closed to keep dirt and impurities away.
Many chefs known to experiment on ingredients previously not used in cooking are studying how to use miracle fruit berries for cooking. Right now, miracle fruit berries are not used for cooking.
Many scientific studies have been done in the past to establish the health benefits of miracle fruit berries. This fruit contains calories, fat, carbs, protein, and minerals. It has vitamins A, C, and E. It also contains antioxidants.
Eating miracle fruit berries can improve a person’s insulin resistance and reduce the uric acid level in the body. Those who undergo chemo will experience improved appetite by eating miracle fruit berries.