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Berry Interesting: Plant Extract Makes Sour Tastes Seem Sweet

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Miracle Berry pills will manipulate your taste buds into thinking sour foods are sweet. (CBS)

Miracle Berry pills will manipulate your taste buds into thinking sour foods are sweet. (CBS)

Mary Kay Kleist Mary Kay Kleist
Mary Kay Kleist is a meteorologist for CBS 2 Chicago. Kleist joined...
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(CBS) — It’s always a good idea to reduce sugar in your diet, but what if you could get rid of it completely and not lose the sweet taste?

CBS 2′s Mary Kay Kleist shows us how one local chef is serving up rich creations without using sugar.

What if you didn’t have to add sugar to a sour food to make it more palatable? A little tablet called the Miracle Berry dissolves on your tongue, tricking your taste buds.

Kleist did a taste test using lemons and limes that had some people impressed.

“I never thought that a lemon could probably taste as good as an orange,” Anthony Trombino says.

Chef Homaro Cantu uses a powdered form of the tablet in his West Loop restaurant  Ing made from a fruit called a Miracle Berry.

“That berry has a little protein in it. What will happen is when you put it on your tongue that protein will latch onto your sour taste receptor,” Cantu says.

Research published in October 2011 from Japan shows the protein Miraculin changed bitter tastes to sweet for people who tried it.

By having diners ingest the Miracle Berry before their meal, the restaurant can skip sugar in recipes.

“You would swear that this stuff is loaded with sugar and fat, and that’s just not the case,” Cantu says of some of  his dishes.

The berries come from a west African plant that flowers about three times a year, producing about 800 berries.

Cantu has put some of his recipes into a cookbook. His waffles will save you 9 tablespoons of sugar. His chocolate Guinness cake cuts out 2 cups of sugar.

“It tastes like you put a chocolate milk in your cake,” he says of the latter recipe.

You can buy the tablets and the plant online. A pack of 10 tablets will cost you about $15, a small plant about $25.

Cantu says he’s working on a number of ways to put the miracle berry directly into food so that diners don’t have to go through the extra step of dissolving the tablet.

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