At a recent tasting party at her home in Jupiter, Fla., Jennifer Hansen surprised her family and friends with something unexpected. The sour flavors of lemons, limes and vinegar-based hot sauces turned amazingly sweet.
That’s because everyone first ate the ripe-red berries from a Miracle Fruit plant.
“People don’t eat the Miracle Fruit for how it tastes,” she says. “They eat it for how it makes other things taste.”
Synsepalum dulcificum is called the Miracle Fruit or Miracle Berry for a reason. The plant, native to West Africa, grows berries that contain a glycoprotein called miraculin. This substance has a way of binding to the taste buds causing sour foods to taste sweet for a short amount of time.
“When your taste buds are under the influence of Miracle Fruits, sour foods like limes and lemons are freaking amazing,” Jennifer says. “The depth and brightness of their flavor is just unparalleled, like one of the best things I have ever tasted.”
She says other fun foods to try are vinegary hot sauces, like Cholula or Tabasco, or even straight vinegar. At her party she also offered kombucha, salt and vinegar potato chips, and blueberries.
“It’s a really fun thing to do with kids. And with adults, it brings out the kids in them! We are so sure of how things taste, but this fruit makes tasting foods to which we have grown accustomed an exciting new experience.”
In addition to being a Florida master gardener, Jennifer is a knit and crochet designer known as the StitchDiva, and she also teaches crochet classes on Craftsy.com. Her interest in gardening started while traveling the tropics.
As a fairly new Florida gardener she’s experimenting with growing vegetables in a raised bed garden, but also planting trees with fruits that are hard to find and plants that are difficult to grow, like the black bat flower (Tacca chantrieri).
She purchased her Miracle Fruit plant only a few months ago and the berries were ready to party with at the end of December.
While tasting parties of homegrown fruits and vegetables can be fun, the Miracle Fruit has another purpose, too.
Jennifer says the berries are used to improve the taste of foods for chemotherapy patients and to help people with diabetes enjoy something sweet without any sugar.