Miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum) is a plant native to West Africa.
It was described as the 'miraculous berry' by British Surgeon Dr. William Freeman Daniell in the 1852 April edition of The Pharmaceutical Journal.
The taste-modifying activity of Miracle fruit was used by the West Africans who consumed the fruit before eating food which had started to sour, or before drinking fermented sour palm wine.
WHERE ARE THEY GROWN?
Miracle fruit seeds were introduced to Australia in 1978 by a rare fruit orchardist. Today, the rare trees are grown by fruit enthusiasts and are found predominantly in tropical Queensland. On a global scale, there are very few Miracle fruit farms with only a handful of farms growing the trees for commercial use.
HOW MIRACLE FRUIT WORKS
Miracle fruit contains Miraculin, a glycoprotein that binds to the sweet receptors on the tongue - a property that's potentially helpful for people whose sense of taste has been disturbed for any reason (e.g. after medical treatment).
Miracle fruit is highly perishable. Once picked, the fruit may only last 2 to 3 days depending on temperature.
Freshly picked fruit can be frozen and stored for 3 to 4 weeks. Freeze-drying is the only method that allows Miraculin to be preserved for commercial shelf-life.
Miraculin's duration of benefit may be reduced if it is taken with meals that are hot in temperature or contain highly acidic ingredients.
Dr KARL KRUSZELNICKI
Australia's most loved scientist has written two articles on Miracle Fruit.
Dr Karl has degrees in Physics and Maths, Biomedical Engineering, Medicine, and Surgery.
He currently serves as the Julius Sumner Miller Fellow at Sydney University.
You can listen to Dr Karl talk about science for an hour every Thursday on Triple J, this is the station's longest running segment.
'Miracle fruit brings a change in taste' (Miraculin and the food industry in the '70s) - Dr Karl's Great Moments In Science
'Miracle berry's sweet secret' - Dr Karl's Great Moments In Science
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Dysgeusia?
"The most common side effect of Chemotherapy is Dysgeusia, where the bitter, sour, salty or sweet receptors on the tongue don't work as they should."
- Jan Fran, SBS 'Medicine or Myth?'
"250 medications that we know cause Dysgeusia."
- Dr Ginni Mansberg, SBS 'Medicine or Myth?'
Where can I purchase fresh Miracle Fruit?
Due to their highly perishable nature Miracle Berries are not sold fresh commercially.
Once picked, the fruit will start to perish and only last for 2 to 3 days at room temperature.
Freshly picked fruit can be frozen and stored for 3 to 4 weeks.
However, freeze-drying is the only method which allows the Miraculin protein (or active ingredient) to be preserved for a commercial shelf-life.
What is Freeze Drying?
Freeze-drying is a unique form of drying which removes all moisture.
The fruit is frozen and placed in a strong vacuum.
The water in the fruit turns straight from ice into vapour.
Nutritional levels retained through freeze drying are greater than traditional dehydration methods.
Freeze drying is referred to as gentle drying by some manufacturers.
It is commonly used in the making of instant coffee.
How long do the effects last?
The Miraculin's duration of benefit depends on the acidity and heat of the food being consumed.
Experience will differ from person to person. In some cases the effect can last for up to 2 hours.
What can I eat with Miracle Fruit?
Increasing the acidity of your meal will allow the Miracle Fruit's protein Miraculin to alter the taste of food.
Add lemon juice to your salad dressing, or eat natural yoghurt with fruit, instead of flavoured yoghurt.
If you are craving red meat, try a Thai Beef salad.
Why didn't Miracle Fruit work for me?
Miracle Fruit may not work for everyone.
Taste is an individual experience, treatments, medication, age, sex and hormonal levels can contribute to changes in taste
Why don't we have an Australian product?
During the 1980s, many Queenslanders grew Miracle fruit trees as a 'novelty plant' .
The discovery of the freeze drying process proved the fruit's protein Miraculin could stay active.
Unfortunately, many farmers were too far away from a freeze dryer to experiment with the process.
Rubyberry are growing Miracle Fruit Trees to yield a commercial number of berries for production in Australia.
The trees are slow growing, at 2 to 3 years of age they may produce only a few berries.
We are researching nutritional levels of Miracle fruit trees and best horticultural practices.
What does Rubyberry farm do with their fresh berries?
They go to the Researchers and Doctors who wish to research Miracle Fruit.
We have donated to COUCH Wellness Centre in Cairns, when we were in Far North Queensland.
We also support local cancer sufferers in our Community when our fruit is in season.
Where can I buy a Miracle Fruit plant?
Check out our Facebook Community Page Miracle Berries Australia, which lists nurseries around Australia who sell Miracle Fruit Plants.