Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

sweeteners other than sugar and substances containing sugar, became important in the 20th century, especially in the western world, where an addiction to sugar and sweet foods often conflicts with a desire to avoid becoming fat.

Some natural substances have a powerful sweetening effect when present in small amounts. One of these is glycyrrhizin in liquorice. In the actual root, or the black sweetmeat made from it, its sweetness is partly masked by other, bitter compounds.

Several tropical plants contain substances which, when eaten, have the bizarre effect of making everything else taste sweet for some time. The most notable of these is the ‘miracle berry’, Synsepalum dulcificum. Food scientists have not yet succeeded in bringing its active substance, miraculin, under control.