Sunday, May 01, 2011

Taste Test: Miracle Fruit turns Sour to Sweet!

Have you heard of Miracle Fruit? It's a tiny berry that alters your taste perception of sour and salty foods, emphasizing their sweetness instead. (One fellow hosts "flavor tripping" parties where guests can sample lemons, vinegars, mustards and dark, bitter beers!) In Eric's ongoing quest to sample all the tropical fruits of The Big Island, we gave them a whirl while my Mum was visiting. We bought five berries for $1 at our local farmer's market. (It felt like we had stepped into the fairy tale about Jack and his magic beans!)

They look quite ordinary, don't they?

We tasted the limes before, to refresh our memories of what

SOUR tastes like!

Then we tried the Miracle Fruit. You pop the tiny berry into your mouth and separate the flesh of the fruit from the seed. You swirl the flesh around your mouth and discard the seed. After a few minutes, your sense of taste is altered. The perception lasts for about 30-45 minutes.

What a fun experiment! It's not that the sour disappears, it's more as though the food's natural sweetness is heightened and emphasized. Eric thought this would make an excellent lesson on perception for his high school students. He used his Miracle Fruit to drink a glass of apple cider vinegar (an old fashioned home remedy that is supposed to work as an appetite suppressant.) You could still taste the sourness of the vinegar, but the sweetness was the first thing that hit your tongue.

Have you tried anything NEW lately?


panoptica said...

I heard about it a while ago, but I don't know where I can buy them here. Sounds so fun!!!

P.s. you look just like your mom. You even got the same haircut!!

Banana said...

Fun story! We had the chance to try miracle fruit when we were in Australia. We were visiting Tropical Fruit World near Brisbane and ended up staying after a presentation to chat up the guy working there. We hit it off with him and before we knew it he told us he had something special for us to try and produced a small paper bag with some little red berries. We had no idea what was going to happen when Steve tried the miracle fruit b/c we had never heard of it before. The guy had fun building up the drama for us I think! Needless to say, we were pretty impressed by the power of the berry - we want to plant a bush at my parent's villa in Florida. And as science geeks, we wanted to know how it worked too! Our hypothesis is that it has a compound that binds to your sour receptors so you don't taste that part of the flavor as much. Seems like it could be a cool research project!

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