Miraculin for Christmas

This must be a true holiday treat: Eat miraculin for Christmas and everything sour will turn sweet! Reading Joseph Mallozzi’s blog post on his visit to Jeff Ramsey’s Tapas Molecular Bar in Tokyo, I became aware of the miracle fruit. For one of the dishes, the guests are asked to eat the flesh of the miracle fruit and keept in in their mouth for one full minute. Following this the guests are given grapefruit which then tastes sweet! The miracle fruit is not sweet by itself, but the tongue will perceive sour foods as sweet for one half to two hours after it has been treated with the miracle fruit.

Miracle fruit
Picture from Wikipedia.

The active compound is a glycoprotein named miraculin. It consists of 191 amino acids linked together (the sequence can be found here). From what I have found, it is not known how miraculin interacts with the taste receptors on the tongue.

Unfortunately it seems to be quite difficult to get hold of the miracle fruit as they perish quickly. A couple of years ago however, a Japanese company developed a technique to freeze dry the fruit and desserts made with the fruit are served at the Miracle Fruits Cafe. Apparently, miraculin is available in tablet form in Japan (more info in Japanese here).

Miracle fruit cafe

This year, japanese researchers were able to transfer a synthetic gene, encoding miraculin, into lettuce. The miraculin produced by the transgene lettuce had the same taste modifying properties as the miraculin found in the miracle fruit. But since it appears the FDA has turned down an application for marketing miracle fruit, it doesn’t seem likely for neither the miracle fruit nor the transgene lettuce to reach the super market next door… But I still hope Santa will bring me some miraculin for Christmas!

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Filed under: molecular gastronomy

Comments

  1. Joseph Mallozzi Says:

    Thanks for this. Very interesting. When Chef Ramsey explained the properties of the fruit, I was suspicious, wondering if he was having me on. He informed me that there is a market located across from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Tokyo that will occasionally carry the fruit. As someone who avoids most fruit because of their tartness, this little miraculin would be a godsend. Sadly, now that I’m back in North America, it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to get my hands on a supply.

    One highlight of the many my wife and I enjoyed that evening. A truly spectacular dinner.

    And an equaly spectacular site you have here.

    JM

  2. Martin Lersch Says:

    Thanks for your comment. I was just wondering – since the effect of miraculin lingers for up to two hours – how did this affect the rest of the meal or anything else you ate afterwards?

  3. Katie Says:

    You get the same effect with fresh artichokes. They make water taste sweet; I think that’s why they were considered aphrodisiacs!

  4. Joseph Mallozzi Says:

    The miraculin and fruit were the last items on the menu. By the time we returned to our hotel, about an hour later, the effects had worn off.

    On a side note, I picked up some miraculin plants in Montreal and am eager to see if they’ll bear fruit this summerl

  5. Neddie Says:

    Artichokes also alter the way you perceive the flavor of other foods. So is the FDA going to crack down on them too?

  6. SRF Heavy Industries - Imagination consulting » Out of the park Says:

    […] Miracle Fruitcake Strange, strange stuff. Coat your tongue with the glycoprotein in this berry, and, for the next half hour to an hour, sour and bitter cease to exist. It’s kind of a survival trait to be able to taste the pH of the substances you ingest, but, if you don’t care that your food might be killing you anyway, this might be worth the risk. […]

  7. Farshid Says:

    Joseph, I’d love to know, where in Montreal did you pick up the miraculin plants?

  8. David B. Says:

    Ditto that–Please share your source in Montreal. It’s a 5 hour drive for me, and would be well worth the trip.

  9. Joseph Mallozzi Says:

    Sadly, the plants are doing too well. I might have to wait until the weather warms up before trying again.

    I purchased them from Flora Exotica –

    http://bazaar.gardenweb.com/directory/fx/

  10. Pong Sirioput Says:

    The FDA is owned by industrial food manufacturers. They’ll approve toxic chemicals like aspartame, but won’t approve a natural berry.

    You can order dried miracle fruit berries from Thailand. I’m not sure how well the potency maintains, but I stored a sealed foil package for over six months and it still made lemons taste sweet.

  11. roger Says:

    Pong, Do you have a contact that I can buy the dried berries from in Thailand? I am looking for large quatities to sell in the U.S. You can contact me at miracleberries (at) gmail

    roger

  12. James Says:

    Roger – you can get long lasting freeze dried miracle fruit extract (the miraculin) anywhere in the world from http://miracleUK.info/

  13. Curtis Mozie Says:

    The National Geograhic Magazine featured an article in the November 2007 issue about the Miracle Fruit and the Artichoke. The Artichoke also alters the flavor of foods. The Miracle fruits were provided by Curtis Mozie of Miracle Fruits Exchange Inc.

  14. Curtis Mozie Says:

    Imbibe magazine features information about the use of the Miracle Fruit in the January February 2008 issue.

  15. jimihatt Says:

    guerrilla cuisine will host a miracle fruit dinner in 4-6 months. feel free to look us up online at http://www.guerrillacuisine.com
    this is charlestons only UDC. so get on the bus and eat well.
    –klowe/jimihatt

  16. Bob G. Cannon Says:

    Sorry if our article at http://quisqualis.com/mirfrtdmc1a.html led you to think that the fruit was not allowed for sale by the FDA, they denied the permit for the active ingredient. You can sell or give fruits away. Contact me with a way to get in touch with you that is not public and I’ll see about getting you a fruit or two when this season’s ripen. (With only two plants my supply is very limited. lol)

  17. Acoloss Says:

    are the freeze dried fruit legal to sell?

  18. amanda Says:

    You can get the miracle fruit tablets, seeds, and plants at http://www.miraclefruittab.com . They have the products available in stock and ready to ship out worldwide

  19. Mark Says:

    Grapefruit sold in Japan is mostly sweet anyway, even without miracle fruit. Japanese buyers bid top dollar for the good stuff from Florida, and leave the sour stuff for Americans to eat.

    The Miracle Fruit tablets are actually made in Taiwan, not Japan. The Japanese researcher licensed his technique to the Taiwanese factory.

  20. Janet Says:

    Tried the experience with tablets from http://whaooo.com

    They were pretty cheap and shipped just fine. The packaging was in english and Japanese in fact. The experience was good fun and had a party with friends, a lot of lime, lemon and berries. It didnt work the same for all my friends though. Maybe it depends on how you eat the tablets.

    I also bought tiny trees from a different supplier, but I just cant get them to grow indoors. I know there must be something about the acidity of the soil, I ve tried everything, but the leaves are just getting yellow and falling.