Wednesday, 7 May 2014


Fruit platter of Miracle Berry, Kumquat, Tahitian Lime and Meyer Lemon served with Kumquat, Lime & Lemon syrups and fresh ginger mint leaves.

                        Making this dish ticked a box on my to do list finally after a number of years. The miracle berry was first made known to me about 12 or so years ago by my sister whom has a friend that is the owner of 'tropical fruit world', located on the north coast of New South Wales. Tropical fruit world were harvesting these fruits many many years ago and my sister was lucky enough to experience the berries unique properties, prompting me to place this on my to do list. Last weekend we had a friend down staying with us from Townsville and we decided to pay a visit to our local markets on the Sunday. Amongst the many vendors selling plants,seedlings and fruit trees I spotted out of the corner of my eye two small shrubs, one with the berry you see still attached. Which was very rare for this time of the year as they tend to fruit in summer and then again in the onset of spring. So for just $10 AUS. I killed two birds with one stone and was now the owner of my own miracle berry bush with a berry to try for a bonus. For those that are unfamiliar with the fruit , miracle berry contains a protein called miraculin that, when eaten, temporarily effects the tongues sweetness receptors making foods that normally are acidic or sour, sweet. At a neutral ph, miraculin binds and blocks the receptors but at a low ph. (sour foods), the miraculin binds protons and is able to activate the receptors, making these foods sweet. The West African berry itself has a low sugar content and tastes quite tart but having said that miraculin is used commercially as a sugar substitute. An attempt in the 70's was made to commercialise the fruits ability to turn sour foods sweet without a single caloric penalty, but was ended when the ( FDA) declared the berry as a food additive. Controversial claims were made that the project was sabotaged and the research burgled by the sugar industry to avoid loss in business.                                        
                       For this application I used some of the acidic winter citrus that was available in abundance at the markets. I prepared some syrups from Kumquats, lemon and lime by simple juicing the fruits and separately bringing each one to a simmer, removing a little of the juice and adding some arrowroot flour to form a paste. The paste was then placed back into the juice and simmered for a further few minutes, whisking to form a thick syrup. This process was done to each of the three fruits. Next I prepared samples of each fruit to also go on the platter, segmenting the lemon and lime and slicing the kumquat in half. Apart from a quick forage in the back yard for some ginger mint leaves this platter was complete. This was a very simple application but a very theatrical one at that. After consuming the berry, kumquats tasted like marmalade, limes were like key lime pie and the meyer lemons could have been mistaken for lemonade. A truly amazing experience and one that should not be passed up if the occasion arises. Unforgettable.                                                                                        

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