Miracle fruit tablets can be bought online

Tablets made from miracle fruit, which makes sour food taste sweet, are now for sale on the Internet, the developer of the technology said.

Mitsuharu Shimamura, a 31-year-old horticulturist based in Chita, Aichi Prefecture, said that after a joint study with a Taiwanese agricultural firm, he established the world’s first technology to make tablets out of the tropical fruit, native to west Africa, which contains a sweet-inducing protein called miraculin.

An Osaka-based trading company began selling the tablets online at a price of 3,990 yen for a package of 10.

Each pink-colored tablet is made of three miracle fruit berries, Shimamura said.

A minute after people eat or lick the red berries, anything sour they eat or drink tastes sweet. This is because the protein miraculin firmly binds to sweet receptor cells on the tongue when sour substances are present. The effect lasts about two hours.

The protein transmits a false message to the brain, resulting in a strong, sweet taste in the mouth. Shimamura, a researcher at NGK Insulators Ltd., said the tablets will cause exactly the same effect.

He expects diabetics will use the tablets to sweeten food and drinks.

The researcher is the first grower in Japan to succeed in having the plant regularly bear fruit. To grow the tropical fruit, the temperature must be kept at more than 20 degrees and high humidity should be maintained.

It is easier to grow the fruit in Taiwan than in Japan, he said.

Shimamura said he will debut the technology for mass producing the tablets at an academic conference of the Japanese Association for the Study of Taste and Smell, to be held at Kyushu University in July.

In Tokyo and Osaka, there are restaurants called Miracle Fruit Cafe eateries that offer sweets using the fruit.