Do you believe in miracles?
Ok, maybe that was cheesy. That being said, there is such a thing as a “Miracle Berry.” Unless you prefer to call them Synsepalum dulcificums! We jest. Other (pronounceable) namesthey are commonly referred to include “miracle fruit” and “sweet berries”. In Africa, where the fruit is normally found, common names are agbayun, taami, asaa, or andledidi.
The specific region in which these miraculous berries originated is West Africa, where the locals and explorers have been snacking on them since at least the 18th century, and typically are chewed on before meals. The reason behind this is due to their interesting ability to change the actual taste of foods.
You might be wondering how that is so, and if it has anything to do with its title as a “miracle” fruit. Apparently it can turn sour foods to taste sweet despite its very low sugar content. Imagine making plain cream cheese taste like cheesecake, goat cheese taste like honey… My sweet tooth says, “Sign us up!” The effect has been attributed to its naturally occurring miraculin, and has commonly been used as a sweetener, and pre-meal appetizer.
Because of this, an attempt was made in the 1970s to commercialize it and place it on the market as an all-natural, diet-approved sweetener. Unfortunately, the attempt failed when the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) classified the berry as an “additive”. Many have speculated that this controversy has little to do with “additives” and much to do with sugar corporation giants and their need for business. Need proof? Apparently Stevia is now labeled as a “dietary supplement” instead of a “sweetener”. Alrighty…
In any case, the miracle berry had a brief stint as a diet pill for many Americans, in addition to its “taste tripping” affordances. However, its uses mainly originate from where they are usually grown. In West Africa, it is popularly used to sweeten palm wine and improve the flavor of maize.
If you ever get your hands on these miracle berries or a miracle berry supplement, here’s what you can do:
Orange Chicken via MyEyeQ
Flavor Changing Asian Cracker Jack via Molecular Recipes
Taste Tripping via theKitchn
Miracle Berry Foam via Instructables
While lots of these are mainly ways to incorporate the miracle berry before meals for ultimate taste explosions, it’s worth a try! If you love food and the experiences that come along with it, try these ideas with a group of friends.