Do Flavor Changing Berries Actually Work? We Tried Flavor Tripping with Two Miracle Berry Products to Find Out
If you could suddenly bite into a lemon and it tasted like candy, you'd probably think you were crazy. Flavor changing berries can do exactly that, simply by eating one before your meal. As someone who has gagged trying to drink apple cider vinegar or green juice or wheatgrass shots (not worth it, I emphatically promise) in the name of wellness, this sounded way to good to be true. Could a fruit really alter my perception of taste?
What are flavor changing berries & how do they work?
Flavor changing berries are actually the fruit of the Synsepalum Dulcificum plant, largely found in West Africa, are are colloquially called miracle berries, miracle fruit, flavor-changing berries, etc. For years, people there have used the red fruit that grows on this plant to enhance the taste of certain foods. This little berry itself is know to be healthy, with a vitamin content similar to a blueberry, and was used as a natural supplement.
There's a glyco-protein in the ledidi berry called "miraculin," hence the nickname Miracle Berries. This glyco-protein attaches to your tongue as you chew and then that activates when there's a PH change in your mouth, aka with sour or bitter flavors. The sweet receptors on your tongue start signaling and suppress the sour tastes. The miraculin rewires the sweet receptors to temporarily identify acids as sugars.
So, sour and bitter foods start to taste sweet, and already sweet flavors intensify as well. The effect only works if berries are consumed raw, as heat kills this effect. You need to eat the berry before other foods that you want to see the effect on, i.e mixing it into your drink won't change the flavor of it.
We decided to find out for ourselves if these miracle berries were worth the hype. Most of our office was skeptical that something like this could actually work.
The two contenders
The six members of the Knoji team (Emily, Jimmy, Andie, Rachel, Mike, and myself) tested out two versions of the ledidi berry:
- A freeze-dried version of the fruit from Nature's Wild Berry
- A tablet version from Mberry
We conducted an extremely scientific test of each to see how they worked, giving us a great excuse to eat enough citrus to cure a whole pirate ship of scurvy. For both forms of berry, we would try a similar medley of fruits and juices (lemons, limes, grapefruit, strawberries, lemon juice, and cranberry juice.) Here's what we thought:
Nature's Wild Berry
What is it?
These are the actual berries from the Synsepalum Dulcificum plant that have been deseeded and freeze dried. There are no additives, preservatives, or chemicals used. One serving is one berry-half, and should last for 15-20 minutes. If you want the effects to last longer, you can take 2 halves and it will last for 35-40 minutes.
One of the Nature's Wild Berry's co-founders, Hank, was kind enough to come into the office and do a demo of the berries. He explained that they see their product as more than just a novelty, but an aid for health and wellness, saying, "We say we're allergic to hype. We want to make this a lifestyle thing, not a fad. Novelty is awesome, but we want this to be supplement for a healthy lifestyle."
Here are some of the suggestions the company gives for how you can use the berry day-to-day
- A morning drink with hot lemon water & a cap of apple cider vinegar.
- Skip cream and sugar in your black coffee and cold brew or enjoy completely smooth espressos
- Enjoy an unsweetened acai bowl, instead of adding honey. Same for unsweetened yogurt
- Crave green juice with all veggies and peeled lemons instead of using apples, pears or agave
- Make healthy smoothies tastier by using unsweetened juice like cranberry or tart cherry
- Frozen fruit is the fix for dessert cravings
- Turkish or Greek salads pop by mixing unfortified nutritional yeast, hemp oil and balsamic vinegar
- $4.99 for the intro pack with 2 servings ($2.50/berry)
- $47.49 for a small jar with 60 servings ($0.79/berry)
- $151.99 for a large jar with 280 servings ($0.54/berry)
Hank gave us 2 berry halves each and told us, "Chew them with your front teeth and taste the pulp for about 30 seconds. Let it cover your tongue.
The official directions say:
- Sip water to begin with a clean palate
- Break up the berry with your front teeth
- Taste it for 30 seconds moving it over your tongue
- Now swallow and enjoy your new taste
Eating the berry
Hank explained the taste & texture to us as, "Imagine you're eating fruit-infused popcorn. " He explained that the berry tastes tart at first and then sweet because it's working on itself.
I thought the berry tasted pretty good, like a crispy strawberry. My co-worker Andie compared it to a craisin. Rachel said it tasted like a fruit roll-up. The flavor started out a little tart, but became sweet as you chewed. It took about 30 seconds to eat, as expected.
Trying the fruits
We all decided to try the lemon first. There was a collective "Wow!" across the table, as we felt the berry work. Here were some of the team's thoughts:
- "It tastes just like lemonade." - Rachel
- "Oh that's weird." - Mike
- "It actually does taste exactly like lemonade." - Jimmy
- "It tastes like you poured sugar on everything." - Andie
- "The tomato is not good. To be fair, I don't like raw tomatoes" - Me
- "The tomato just tastes like a regular tomato." - Jimmy
- "I would eat this grapefruit every single day." - Me
- "The strawberry is amazing." - Andie
- "Oh wow the strawberry!" - Rachel
- "The cranberry juice tastes like cranberry juice cocktail." - Emily
- "I feel like I'm cheating on keto." - Andie
In conclusion, not only were we surprised that it worked at all, we were incredibly impressed by how well it worked. With the exception of tomato (our office has a high percentage of raw tomato haters), every fruit tasted amazing, both the originally sour ones and the sweet ones.
We did learn a lesson the hard way; you're instructed to keep the little container closed, and we forgot to do that. As Andie said, "We left it open and now they taste a little -- you know how dehydrated stuff is really crunchy-- now they've gotten a little bit soft."
Thoughts and reflections
Andie: During the berry tasting: The berry tasted like a craisin and had a strawberry flavor afterwards.
Post-berry tasting: The lemon was like a sugar coated candy, the grapefruit tasted like a sweet treat, and the strawberry tasted like cream! It exceeded my expectations and I was shocked how easily I ate an entire 2 slices of lemon.
Jimmy: I went into the taste test very skeptical, I honestly thought it would not work or barely change the taste. It actually made lemon taste like lemonade. I could've eaten an entire lemon right there.
Emily: I loved it! I feel like it was a shocking experience and overall very pleasant! Even the berry tasted good. Another thing I really liked was the brand’s overall feel — you could tell Hank and his business partner really have a passion for this berry, and pride themselves on keeping the integrity of the berry while inspiring lifestyle change in others.
Myself: I had tried a similar product before so I knew it would work, but I was so amazed/thrilled at the effect. I can't get over being able to bite into a lemon. I also really liked the berry itself— it tasted good and was easy to eat. The grapefruit was AMAZING. I could see myself using this to drink green juice or something.
Rachel: I thought it was really cool. I don't think it's something I'd use every meal because mama loves food, but I like the idea of using it with green juices or apple cider vinegar shots. I definitely see potential in making the gross stuff taste yummy.
Mike: It was very surprising. Seriously cannot tell the difference between this and real sugar. I think it's going to be a game-changer for lots of people's diets.
Mberry Miracle Fruit Tablets
What are your expectations for Mberry?
Emily: I'm not sure. I think it will definitely be different because it's not the actual berry, it's more of like a tablet. But I'm excited-- I think it will have the same overall effect. I'm interested to see what the experience of eating the tablet is like.
Jimmy: I'm expecting to eat some very sweet things that should not be sweet. I think it should work as well as the other kind, but I'm a little more skeptical because it is in a more pill-like form.
Andie: I have a feeling it's going to taste worse than the berry. I think it will have a similar effect but that I'm going to like the berry better.
Mike: I think it will have the same effect.
Rachel: I feel like it will work very similarly, but I don't like the fact that it's a tablet instead of the actual freeze-dried berry because I feel like it will have more processed ingredients in it. With this type of thing, I think people would be looking for more natural ingredients.
Me: So I'm not a great test subject because I tried this version of the berries before. I expect that they will have the same effect. I like how portable they are.
What is it?
Mberry is the world's leading producer, distributor and promoter of miracle berry products. The two ingredients in the tablets we got are berry (Synsepalum Dulcificum) and cornstarch. It has no added fillers, preservatives or colorants. They even offer a miracle berry focused cookbook.
Here's what their website say:
"Transform foods you never thought could be so sweet and delicious. Lemons taste like lemonade. Hot sauce taste like hot donut glaze. Miracle berries makes healthy eating fun and delicious.
Explore the many ways to use mberry tablets. Host "flavor tripping" dinner parties. Get your kid to eat their vegetables."
Mberry offers $16.99 for a 10 count pack ($1.70/berry) or $25 for two 10 count packs ($1.25/berry)
How to use them:
The website says, "Place one tablet on your tongue and allow the tablet to completely dissolve. Once the tablet has completely dissolved, enjoy! Do not chew the product as it will minimize the desired effect. Do not drink any liquids or eat food while you are allowing the tablet to dissolve on your tongue as this will minimize the desired effect."
However, on the berry packaging itself, it simply says, "Place one Mberry tablet on your tongue and dissolve completely."
Eating the tablet
- "I kind of like the taste, but it's less pleasant [than the berry] because it's chalky." - Emily
- "I preferred the chewy, fruit roll-up texture of the berry." - Rachel
- "This isn't dissolving very fast." - Andie
- "The inside is very hard and I want to be able to chew it." - Mike
- "This definitely doesn't taste as good... I'm trying to make it go down faster." - Jimmy
The first person's berry finished dissolving after 4.5 minutes, and the other people's within 15-20 seconds after that.
Eating the fruits
- "Oh it's the same thing." - Mike
- "It's the same thing but the berry is a better experience." - Emily
- "The lime is good! It tastes like a skittle." - Mike
- "Strawberries are like strawberry ice cream." - Emily
- "The grapefruit and lime are awesome. I don't know if it's the fruit but I feel like my mouth is puckering a little" - Me
- "I didn't love the grapefruit last time, but I love it now. I don't even like grapefruit usually." - Rachel
- A collective "Oooh YES" when we tried the lemon juice
- I think stuff is a little more sour with this one. Last time I don't remember anything tasting sour." - Emily
- "It's a little tart when you it hits the back of your tongue. I feel like in the first two minutes of taking this, things tasted the sweetest." - Rachel
- "That last time, we were so excited cause we hadn't tried it before. I was amazed it worked and now this time I'm just less excited, so I think that affects how we see it." - Andie
- "I feel like this has the same effect as the last one. But lemon might taste a little more sour." - Jimmy
Thoughts and reflections
Rachel: So it works. But I think the experience is not as pleasant because it took like five minutes to dissolve in your mouth, and by that point I want to already be eating.
Andie: It still worked. But it was more annoying with the pill form than the actual berry. I feel like with the berries you could have multiple, but with the tablets you feel like you have to stick with one.
Jimmy: I echo everyone else's sentiment. I think the time it takes to actually dissolve isn't effective for the long term. I would say that the lemon was the one I noticed it felt less effective on. But otherwise i think that it still does work enough for me to say that if they both dissolved in the same amount of time, I would just go with whatever was cheaper.
Emily: I think that I enjoyed the berry better because I felt like it was a more natural way to do it, kind of like less additives and I feel like it was a little more effective in making everything sweeter. This one was a little less strong to me.
Mike: I thought that they were pretty similar. They work the same, I think. Maybe the berries were a little stronger, but it's pretty close. I do think that these might be more portable. If you wanted to take this with you, the tablets might be easier. I thought that the berries were easier to use since they dissolve faster.
Myself: I thought that they worked pretty similarly, but I wish it dissolved faster. I feel like people who don't like directions could make the mistake of swallowing it like a pill since they look just like pills. But the individual tear-away packets make it really easy to bring with you.
What was your favorite food you tried overall?
Emily: The lemon! And lemon water, it tasted like lemonade. But I also really loved the grapefruit because as a kid I used to eat grapefruit with sugar sprinkled on top, and it tasted exactly like that.
Andie: The lemon! I ate it like a candy.
Mike: The strawberries.
Myself: The grapefruit. I love the flavor of grapefruit but always wish it was sweeter, so this was awesome. Like if grapefruit got a makeover, this is what the "after" picture would taste like.
Rachel: The lemon. It tasted just like I was eating lemonade, but I was eating a whole lemon. Love that.
We had a lot of fun trying out these flavor-changing berries. Overall, we preferred Nature's Wild Berry for its taste and ease of use, but both brands can be a great fit depending on what you're looking for.
- For taste, we chose Nature's Wild Berry as the winner
- For on-the-go convenience, go with Mberry
- Clean eating friendly: Nature's Wild Berry
The team talked about some of the practical uses for ledidi berry products beyond the novelty such as encouraging healthy eating or for chemotherapy patients with affected taste buds. Both Andie and Rachel were on the keto diet during this test, and remarked how the berries let them feel like they were indulging.
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