Miracle Fruit Flavor Tripping, 2008

Categories:

An evening of taste experimentation with "miracle fruit" and gymnema!

What's miracle fruit? Miracle Fruit is the berry of Synsepalum dulcificum, which when sucked prevents the ability to taste sour for about a half hour. [Update 2011: Apparently it's more complicated than that — the sweet receptors are also activated in an acidic environment. See Shapeshifting Protein Makes Sour Taste Sweet]

Our miracle fruit (thanks John!) was in the form of freeze dried imported tablets labeled "Mysterious Fruit Tab". It tastes like a sour candy that gradually gets more and more sweet as it dissolves.

"Mysterious Fruit Tab""Mysterious Fruit Tab"Miracle Fruit tabs

What's gymnema? Gymnema sylvestre is an herb that is used as a naturopathic treatment for diabetes. If put on the tongue it prevents the ability to taste sweet for over a half hour. Our gymnema (thanks Candace!) was in powder form from an opened capsule. It looks and tastes somewhat like bitter green tea powder.

GymnemaGymnema

Each participant in our experiment brought various foods everyone to experiment with. We first tried these foods unadulterated, then with the miracle fruit, and finally with the gymnema.

Some of the foods we tried include:

  • lemons, grapefruit, cranberries, pomegranate, persimmon, barberries, kiwi gooseberries, granny smith apples, dragonfruit, quince
  • cherry tomatoes
  • yogurt, cheeses, Genoa salami, Italian wine
  • unsweetened chocolate, Sour Patch candies, plain sugar
  • beer (IPA, Stout), wines, soda pop
  • vinegars, Tabasco, salsa, chips, Tabasco
  • pickles, oil-cured olives, preserved lemons, Chinese pickled plums
  • bitter orange marmalade, unsweetened fruit spread

Flavor Tripping - Foods to TryFlavor TrippingFlavor Tripping - Foods to TryFlavor Tripping - VinegarsFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor Tripping - Unsweetened ChocolateFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor TrippingFlavor Tripping

After eating the miracle fruit, lemons tasted like candy. Vinegar tasted smooth but still burned the throat when swallowed. Tabasco sauce tasted savory, perhaps like BBQ sauce. Tomatoes were disturbingly sweet, and salsa just didn't work with chips anymore. We had thought the miracle fruit might also affect the taste of bitter, but we didn't notice much of a change.

After eating the gymnema, all the pleasure of eating fruit was gone. It tasted lifeless and plain. Soda pop reverted to just carbonated water. Plain table sugar was nothing more than sand that melted in our mouths.

Other flavor tripping links: