February 11, 2007

Miracle Fruit, matasabor

Miracle Fruit, Sideroxylon dulcificum, from Wikipedia

Matasabor is the Honduran common name given to Sideroxylon dulcificum. In English, matasabor means kill the flavor. And that's just what this plant does. It's called Miracle Fruit in much of the world because of its magical power to make sour things taste sweet. The berry itself is not sweet and it doesn't make sweet things taste sweeter.

A commenter sent me
a link to plant called Miracle Fruit and asked if I had ever heard about it. Not only had I heard about it, but I have one! I had completely forgotten about it. Right now it is covered by elephant ears that have grown out of control. I think it needs more sun to produce the flowers and fruit.

Wikipedia has a short article about Miracle Fruit, an exotic tropical plant native to West Africa. Attempts have been made to commercialize it for sweetening foods for diabetics but to date none have been successful. It is also used for masking the bitter taste of medicines. The effect of chewing the berry lasts only for 30 minutes to 2 hours and is effective only when the berry is fresh.

La Gringa's neglected matasabor, Miracle Fruit

I can't even remember what the fruit tasted like. What I do remember is that after we tasted the fruit, the vivero (nursery) owner cut a lemon in half and gave it to us. We ate the lemon and it tasted delicious, as sweet as an orange.

The plant is an undistinguised shrub with small red berries. We just had to have it, though, for its novelty. Being a tropical plant, it will only grow in USDA Zones 10-11 and likes an acid soil and high humidity.
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