Wrap your taste buds around flavor-bending miracle fruits
October is the third annual Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delicious features, chef profiles, unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2009."
I can't remember when I first heard about miracle fruits, but I knew right away I wanted to give them a try.
Miracle fruits, or miracle berries, are for real. They contain Miraculin, a glycoprotein extracted from a shrub native to West Africa. What they do is fairly unbelievable, and unless you've tried them, you might still be a skeptic: miracle fruits make sour things sweet. They're the catalyst for "flavoring-bending parties," and it being Dining Month, we held one in the OnMilwaukee.com editorial office just this week.
The berries, themselves, are hard to find fresh, but in freeze-dried tablet form, they're plentiful online. We ordered ours from ThinkGeek.com. A 10-pack cost $14.99.
Before our group let the tablets dissolve on our tongues, dutifully coating our taste buds as instructed, we picked up a variety of groceries to test. We bought pickles, sharp cheddar cheese, wasabi peas, mustard, red wine, stout beer, Miller High Life, limes, oranges, grapefruit, chocolate, tequila and Tabasco sauce.
Interestingly, we each had very different experiences with the tablets, a sensation which lasted less than an hour for the majority of us.
For most, however, the limes and grapefruits made for nearly a magical experience. Devoid of any sourness, they were like sucking on popsicles. The orange became sweeter and more delicious, and I wanted to stay in my citrus heaven forever.
My co-worker, Caroline McDonald, across the office in the sales department, was also blown away by the citrus change. "After taking the tablet, the lime, the grapefruit and the red wine had the biggest change in flavor. The grapefruit tasted like it was saturated in sugar, the wine tasted like grape juice, and the lime was unreal. It was like biting into a blood orange."
Staff writer Maureen Post agreed. "The lime, far and away, blew all the other foods out of the water," she said. "The normally sour acidic fruit tasted like a delectably sweet treat; I could've eaten little wedges of lime all afternoon."
Added Post, "For some of the items, namely the cheese, wasabi-covered almonds and Tabasco, the flavors remained the same. Perhaps slightly muted in intensity but the textures, heat and flavors remained exactly the same. Both the orange and lime jumped in sweetness, but for me, the grapefruit kept its tart, sour flavor."
To me, the pickles also tasted sweeter, as did the cheese and wine, but the beer and chocolate tasted almost the same. Not wanting to squander this opportunity, I took a second tablet, then dripped hot sauce on my tongue. It tasted sweet and not too spicy -- until it left my tongue and moved down my throat. Then I felt the full effects of about a teaspoon of straight Tabasco.
Managing Editor Bobby Tanzilo felt a less profound effect than most of us when it came to the lime. "For me the berry had the most effect on the cabernet, which it made super sweet, almost like grape juice -- and a co-worker who didn't take the tablet assured me it was very dry. The cheese was maybe a little creamier and the mustard definitely lost its bite, but kept its flavor. While the orange was as sweet as candy, I don't think the lime was really affected. It still tasted very bitter to me."
The two resident "foodies" on our staff, programmers Sid Bedi and Nick Barth, also weighed in.
Said Bedi, "The miracle fruit turned the perception of sour into sweet in all cases -- the more sour, the more sweet. The limes were the clear winner. The least expected result was the dark chocolate. Instead of heightening the flavor the miracle berry deadened the sweet and the bitter of the dark chocolate resulting in a buttery mouth feel with very little flavor."
"It made most things we tried taste different, but rarely better," added Barth. "It was interesting, but I'd hate to have it be permanent. It destroyed the taste of chocolate -- that's a deal-breaker."
If after reading this, you're wondering, "why bother," you're asking a legitimate question. Though miracle berries are potentially helpful to diabetics and dieters (since they don't contain any sugar), a flavor bender is really just for fun.
Apparently, flavor bending parties are becoming popular events; The New York Times did a feature on them last year. But, to the best of my knowledge, they haven't caught on here in Milwaukee.
For a mere $15, it's a trippy conversation starter at any party -- though something you'll likely try just once.
Nice article! Love MF! Forget big drinking parties - 'taste tripping' is the way to go now, it's healthier too :) I bought 3 packs (30 tabs) of Miracle Frooties from one other similar supplier, got it in 3 days, threw a little party for my family and few friends and it was really amazing!!! We tried evrth from lemons, limes, tomatoes, broccoli (tastes delicious, go figure), plain yogurt (one of the best 'desserts' I ever had)... WOW! Everyone should try it!
Nice article! Love Miracle Fruit! Forget big drinking parties - 'taste tripping' is the way to go now (healthier too)... I bought 3 packs (30 tabs) of Miracle Frooties from one other similar supplier (only this one sells tabs twice the size - 600mg per serving, for a stronger and longer lasting effect), got it in 3 days, threw a little party for my family and few friends and it was really amazing!!! We tried evrth from lemons, limes, tomatoes, broccoli (tastes delicious, go figure), plain yogurt (one of the best 'deserts' I ever tasted)... WOW! Everyone should try it!
Great article. I have been wanting to try these for some time but didn't know where to get them -- thanks for the tip. Would love to know if they are available locally.
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