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- Des, The Grommet
I opened the bottle of your vanilla extract last weekend to bake some cookies and the difference in taste is extraordinary." – Judy

Miracle Fruit

Miracle Fruit, Synsepalum dulcificum, is a simple berry that looks like a pomegrante seed, and has the remarkable ability to turn the sour taste of a lemon or lime, sweet.

The plant originated in West Africa and grows as an evergreen bush up to 20 feet tall in its native habitat, but is rarely taller than ten feet where it is cultivated.  It produces two crops anually, after the rainy season.  The berries are about the size of coffee beans.

Here’s how the miracle fruit tricks our taste buds:  The berry contains “miraculin.”  When the fruit is eaten, this molecule binds to the tongue’s taste buds, making sour fruits taste sweet.  No one knows quite why, but the effect lasts for 15 to 30 minutes.  Who cares why?!  It’s a miracle!

There have been attempts to turn the miracle fruit’s sweetness into a synthetic sugar, with little success.  However, miracle fruit tablets can be purchased on the Internet and are used by diabetics and cancer patients.  The fruit apparently counteracts the metallic taste that cancer patients sometimes get from chemotherapy drugs.  Its ability to turn sour to sweet is neutralized when cooked.

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Patricia Rain

is an author, educator, culinary historian, and owner of The Vanilla Company (www.vanillaqueen.com), a socially conscious, product-driven information and education site dedicated to the promotion of pure, natural vanilla, and the support of vanilla farmers worldwide. She also does culinary presentations for food professionals, cooking schools, trade shows, food fairs, and private groups, and is a regular radio and TV guest.
Patricia Rain
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