Miracle fruit is a small-sized red fruit indigenous to West Africa. The fruit contains miraculin glycoprotein, which makes bitter and sour foods taste sweet when consumed alongside them.
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What is a Miracle Fruit?
Miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum) is also called a sweet berry, miraculous berry, magic berry, or miracle berry. The fruit’s unusual capacity to transform the flavor of bitter and sour foods into sweet ones gave rise to its name. It made it a well-liked novelty item and a potential aid for people with dietary restrictions.
Miracle berry is used as a natural sweetener and taste enhancer in various dishes and beverages, such as soups, teas, and wines. It has grown in popularity recently as a healthy substitute for sugar and other sweeteners. It is also occasionally used by cancer patients to mask the metallic taste of chemotherapy.
The History of Miracle Fruit
The miracle fruit originated in tropical West Africa, notably Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon.
Ailments, including diabetes and high blood pressure, are treated with the fruit in traditional medicine, demonstrating the fruit’s cultural significance. Additionally, it is used in West African cultural events and festivities where it is either offered as a delicacy or added to traditional foods to make them taste better.
The local economies of West African nations have benefited from the growth in cultivation and exportation brought about by the fruit’s rising demand in international trade.
What Does a Miracle Fruit Taste Like?
When raw, the fruit has a slightly tangy and mildly sweet flavor. The flavor is more subdued, and the fruit loses part of its sweetness after cooking. However, Miracle berry is typically taken uncooked or in powdered form as a taste enhancer rather than a stand-alone dish.
How to Tell When Miracle Fruit is Ripe
Follow these tips to determine when a miracle berry is ripe.
|A ripe fruit has a soft, pulpy texture and is slightly gritty, much like a ripe mango or avocado.
|A ripe fruit’s firmness is tender or soft, resembling a ripe berry.
|A ripe fruit has a delicious, fragrant aroma with hints of berries and tropical fruit.
|The texture of ripe fruit usually is smooth.
|A ripe miracle berry is red.
Look for plump, firm, and vibrantly colored berries when choosing the best fruit. You should avoid fruits with soft patches, discoloration, or bruises. Check for mold or spoiling, as freshness is essential.
Is Miracle Fruit Illegal?
No, Miracle fruit is not illegal. Although it’s safe for consumption, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) outlawed its extract, miraculin, in 1974 on safety concerns.
Miraculin changes taste buds, making bitter foods taste sweet. Hence, it is used as a sugar substitute. Conversely, the FDA views it as a food additive, so it needs rigorous safety testing before being legally sold.
Can I Eat Raw Miracle Fruit?
Yes, miracle fruit is a non-toxic plant; it is okay to consume it raw.
Since ancient times, in its native West Africa and several parts of the world, people have safely consumed the fruit.
The fruit’s ability to change taste has led to various applications, including flavoring bitter or sour medicines, lowering food’s sugar content, and improving the flavor of low-calorie goods.
In some nations, it is utilized as a natural sweetener to improve the taste of sweeteners in the food sector. Miracle berries gatherings, where guests consume the fruit before eating acidic foods, have also gained popularity.
Cooking with Miracle Fruit
Miracle berries must first be prepped by separating the flesh from the seed and pulp before using it in a recipe. To accomplish this, split the fruit in half and then scrape off the pulp with a spoon.
The fruit is frequently used as a natural sweetener in many cuisines, including Latin America, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. It is common in jams, pastries, and drinks.
The following are some dishes that incorporate miracle fruit:
Miracle Fruit Jam: This simple jam recipe uses miracle berries to sweeten strawberries naturally. The jam is perfect for spreading on toast or as a topping for yogurt or ice cream.
Miracle Fruit Popsicles: These refreshing popsicles are made with coconut milk, lime juice, and miracle fruit. They’re a great way to cool down on a hot day.
Grilled Pineapple with Miracle Fruit Syrup: This recipe takes grilled pineapple to the next level by topping it with syrup made from miracle berries, lime juice, and honey. It’s a perfect dessert for a summer barbecue.
How to Store Miracle Fruit
Proper storage techniques are essential to maintain the quality of the fruit and its active compound, miraculin.
When stored on the counter, fresh fruit should be eaten within two to three days. To prolong its shelf life (up to two weeks), store it in the fridge at a temperature of 4°C (40°F).
For long-term storage, freezing is the best option. Freeze the fruit in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to six months.
Drying the fruit is another storage option. Dried miracle fruit can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to six months. However, drying may reduce the fruit’s potency and alter its taste.
Nutritional Benefits of Miracle Fruit
Miracle fruit is low in calories and high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Its fiber promotes healthy digestion and controls blood sugar levels, while its antioxidants protect cells from oxidative stress and enhance heart health.
Collagen formation and immunity are both enhanced by vitamin C. These nutrients benefit health because they lower the risk of succumbing to chronic diseases and improve gut and skin health.
Where to Purchase Miracle Fruit
You can buy miracle fruit all year round from specialty shops, online merchants, and farmers’ markets. If the fruit is unavailable locally, you can order seeds online and grow them at home.