Miraculin & Sweet Proteins
What else is out there? There are a few proteins that are similar to Miraculin but do not turn sour into sweet like the miraculous Miraculin.
Brazzein is a sweet tasting protein, unlike Miraculin. It is derived from the plant Oubli (Pentadiplandra brazzeana Baillon) in West Africa. This protein is found to be 500-2000 times sweeter than sucrose, Miraculin is 400,000 times sweeter. Brazzein is commonly consumed by monkeys, bonobos, and humans and were the first to test its sweet properties. The fruits from the Oubli are sweet tasting alongside the protein and are safe for use for people with diabetes. Brazzein can withstand heat the best which makes it the top protein to use in foods. Unfortunately, it is not considered “Generally Recognized As Safe” by the FDA as of December 2021.
So why is this not commercially available? As of 2018, the fruit is protected by biodiversity laws which proves to be difficult. A UK based company, Magellan Life Sciences had a UK patent-pending solution to ferment the protein in order to create commercial quantities. In 2007, a company in Los Angeles, Natur Research Ingredients, created a Brazzein product called Cweet to replace table sugar but have not seemed to be able to commercialize the product in the United States.
Pentadin is also a natural sweetener very similar to Miraculin. This protein comes from the same fruit as Brazzein and has many of the same properties. They were discovered around the same time but Pentadin does not prove as useful as Brazzein, however, could be a supplemental for its twin protein.
By Wildeman, E. de, died 24 July 1947 see Wildeman, E. de (Emile) 1866-1947 - http://18.104.22.168/plantillustrations/public_html/ILLUSTRATIONS_full_size_/175372.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61464471
MonellinMonellin, also known as the serendipity berry, is eaten by old world primates and humans in West Africa. This protein is 800-2000 times sweeter than sucrose, but differs in that the sweet effect is slow. Unlike Miraculin, which is immediate, it takes time for Monellin to sweeten your taste buds. Similar to Miraculin, this protein is pH dependent and cannot be heated as it will destroy the sweet properties. Monellin is best used as a tabletop sweetener, since it is water soluble, and is safe for those with diabetes. This is one of the only proteins that can be grown in yeast which produces a sweetening agent that is 4000 times more potent than sucrose. Luckily, Monellin has been deemed safe for consumption in Japan but not in the EU or the United States.
Thaumatin is different from these proteins above in that it is a flavoring agent and not necessarily a sweetener, even though it is 100,000 times sweeter than sucrose. It is derived from the Katemfre fruit in West Africa. Similar to Monellin, its sweetness effects builds very slowly and lasts an adequate amount of time. Thaumatin has an after taste similar to liquorice. This protein is the best for foods as it is water soluble and stable to heating and acids. The downside to thaumatin is that it is crystallized very easily and when converted into a powder form, can be an allergen for people. However, this diminishes when it is turned into a liquid. Thaumatin has been deemed “Generally Recognized As Safe", in the U.S. but only as a flavoring agent and not a sweetener. In Israel, Japan, and the EU, it is considered safe for consumption as a sweetener.
Fun Fact: Thaumatin holds the Guinness Book of World Records as the sweetest substance.
In 1990, the fruit of a Curculigo Larifolia, in Malaysia, was discovered to have the same sweetening properties as Miraculin, and the fruit itself was sweet. This protein is different from the others in that it makes water taste sweet. Yes you read that right, sweet water. Curculin does have a shorter sweetening time. With water, it lasts around 5 minutes as with citric acid based beverages, it lasts 10 minutes. When two positively charged ions come together, specifically magnesium or calcium, or is exposed to heat, it reduces the capabilities of the sweetness. These type of ions can be found in everyday foods such as leafy greens, fish, yogurt, and avocados. Curculin does not have much research and has yet to be approved for use in any country besides Japan, who approved it as a food additive.
By Picture taken by: User:BotBln, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=658520