There aren’t many foods that are both blue and delicious. Aside from slushies and the occasional berry, anything that’s turned aquamarine has probably been left festering for too long on the kitchen counter to be safe to eat. But, if you’ve ever made a bolognese and thought it didn’t quite look blue enough, you could about to be in business.
Several cooks at the cutting edge of food evolution have started using an unusual ingredient to make their dishes look like they're volunteering for the RAF. Only attaining widespread popularity relatively recently, jenipapo is an Amazonian berry that, if harvested before it reaches maturity, can stain almost any food an alarming shade of blue. The results are unsurprisingly spectacular.
The berry is most popular in Brazil, where several chefs have started staining everything from high-end desserts to daily bread. A search for jenipapo on social media reveals thousands of images featuring tacos, tortillas and tattooing, proving just how adaptable the ingredient is. One dish from Sao Paulo restaurant “Corrutela” even uses the dye to create a twist on the classic French ‘îles flottantes’ meringue dessert. If you can imagine it, jenipapo can make it happen.
Fully ripe jenipapos, which can grow to be as large as a small melon, have been eaten in Brazil for hundreds of years. However, it’s only been over the last few years that the unripe berries have become popular in the industry. According to Gastro Obscura, it wasn’t until 2014 that an obscure biology book opened people’s eyes to the jenipapo possibilities. The rest is cereulean-tinted history.
However, while the prospect of tucking into blue pasta is obviously intriguing, the process is not as easy as giving a jenipapo a squeeze and hoping for the best. According to popular blogger Neide Rigo, the best results are only obtained after jenipapo pulp is added to milk, which is then included in a dish. This complex extraction might mean we have to wait while before dinner time turns blue. Still, it’s good to know that it’s possible.