With the blue pigment so uncommon in nature, it can be difficult to find foods that are naturally blue. In supermarkets, blue foods are typically resigned to those with certain chemical additives that either enhance or cause this unusual color.
But why are there so few blue foods? Scientists believe this color is absorbed when plants produced chlorophyll, as green and blue are next-door neighbors on the color spectrum, and chlorophyll production is dependent on absorbing blue wavelengths.
Blue foods include but aren’t limited to blueberries, blue corn, blue cheese, blue crab, and more.
In this article, we will be discussing naturally blue foods, some of which you may have heard of and others that are more exotic.
21 Foods that are Naturally Blue
1. Blue Cheese
Known and named for its signature blue and white marbling, blue cheese is a pungent, tangy cheese with a sharp taste that is popular for use in salads, pastas, breads, and even on burgers.
The blue color comes from a certain strain of penicillin that is required for pasteurization. Blue cheese is certainly an acquired taste for most, with such a polarizing taste that makes most people either love it or hate it with few indifferent to this uniquely blue cheese.
2. Blue Corn
Nearly identical to the yellow and white varieties, blue corn is named for its vibrantly colored kernels. While there isn’t much difference in taste, blue corn certainly adds a splash of color to any dish – whether it be corn on the cob, blue corn tortilla chips, enchiladas, and even popcorn.
While most of the kernels on an ear of blue corn are blue, it isn’t unusual to see violet, lavender, or even a yellow kernel or two. Due to the anthocyanins that lend blue corn its signature pigment, blue corn is rich in antioxidants and considered healthier than its yellow and white counterparts.
3. Chesapeake Blue Crab
These crustaceans aren’t hard to spot. Native to the Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic, blue crabs are also known as Atlantic or Chesapeake blue crabs. Their shells range from blue to olive green with brilliant blue claws.
This small, commercially caught crab is prized not only for its distinctive color, but also its sweet, tender meat. Low in fat and high in protein, it is a healthy, hearty meat that serves as a great addition to seafood dishes – though those with shellfish allergies should avoid it.
Perhaps the only blue food that most people can name when it comes to eating fruits and veggies in a rainbow of colors, blueberries are a popular seasonal food that are great on their own, or added to desserts, preserves, and drinks. They are naturally tart and are easy to preserve by freezing.
Considered a super food because of the powerful presence of antioxidants, blueberries are also rich in vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.
5. Adirondack Blue Potatoes
With a deep bluish indigo skin and bright violet insides, Adirondack blue potatoes are packed with antioxidants (hence the color) and are a relatively new breed of potato, released in 2013 by Cornell University.
The Adirondack blue potato can be added to any potato dish, and best retains its distinctive color when fried or baked. While these tubers can be boiled, keep in mind that their color may fade and won’t be as brilliant as when prepared other ways.
See Also: Foods that are red
6. Blue Ling Cod Fish
Blue seafood isn’t resigned to crustaceans. Blue ling cod fish are found on the Pacific coast, mostly concentrated off the coast of British Columbia.
Unlike the other species of seafood on our list, not all ling cod fish are blue – but blue ones are common enough to be considered for this list. Both the skin and meat are bright blue in blue ling cod, lending this fish its popular nickname “Smurf cod.”
While the reasons behind the blue hue in a large percentage of blue ling cod is still unclear, experts believe it has to do with the bile pigment called biliverdin.
More commonly known as the starflower, this blossom is native to the Mediterranean reportedly tastes like cucumber and is an edible garnish added to many Mediterranean dishes and salads.
Borage is an important component in herbal medicine, due to its GLA – gamma linolenic acid – which is essential for healthy skin and helps relieve asthma symptoms. However, the flowers and seeds should be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women and anyone with liver issues due to the risk of liver complications.
8. Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
This large, commercially caught fish is an important staple in the United States. Unlike the blue ling cod, Atlantic tuna meat (and the meat of other tuna fish) is pink while its skin is bicolored blue and silver.
Mature Atlantic bluefin tuna specimens can weigh up to 550 pounds. Once threatened by overfishing, regulations have helped Atlantic bluefin tuna restore its numbers without impacting its importance in commercial fishing.
9. Butterfly Peas
This delicate plant with beautiful blue flowers is native to Southeast Asia, and is used in teas, breads, rice, and desserts. It is prized for its delicate flavor and its bright blue hue when used in tea. It is typically brewed with lemongrass or dried lemon to enhance its subtle flavor.
10. Blue Tomato
Selectively bred to have the deep purplish-blue hue that makes it so rich in antioxidants, blue tomatoes come in different varieties.
Blue tomatoes taste sharper than its red counterparts but can be used in most recipes as a suitable substitute for red tomatoes.
This popular berry has the same blue exterior as the blueberry but is considerably smaller in size. This berry turns red in water and is often used as a safer food coloring alternative.
Not only are elderberries considered a super food because of their antioxidants, but they are also a great source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and iron. But be careful when eating them raw – too many can be toxic.
12. Concord Grapes
Unlike many grapes, concord grapes have a distinctive shade more akin to blueberry skin than that of a purple or red grape. Concord grapes are prized for their use in grape jelly, which is a dark purple hue, but the fresh grapes are more blue than purple.
Concord grapes can be used just as any other grape – eaten fresh or made into wine or jam – and are easy to find in the United States at the produce section in most grocery stores.
13. Damson Plums
This small, sour plum ranges in color from blue to indigo to black. It is cultivated throughout the world and is known in Southeast Asia as jamblang.
Though they are bitter when eaten raw, Damson plums are prized for use in jams and preserves.
14. Wild Mexican Blue Shrimp
Known for their bluish hue and plumpness that surpasses most other commercial shrimp species, wild Mexican blue shrimp are caught off Mexico’s Pacific coast. Because of the low salt content in the water in which they live, Mexican blue fish have a sweeter, more mellow taste that their saltier counterparts.
This aromatic and versatile Mediterranean herb is used in a range of recipes including breads, drinks, desserts, meat dishes, and even in marinades. With bristly dark green leaves, rosemary has tiny, dainty blue flowers that also come in pink, purple, and white.
16. Blue American Lobster
The third blue-shelled crustacean on our list, the blue American lobster is incredibly rare and has a distinctive bright blue shell. While it can be eaten just as easily as its red counterparts, their sheer value makes them more likely to be sold as a pet or mounted on a wall.
17. Indigo Milk Cap Mushroom
Many mushrooms have blue or purple tints, but most mushrooms with such a hue are psychedelic and contain a compound called psilocybin that lends them hallucinogenic properties.
However, the Indigo Milk Cap Mushroom is a rare fungus with a short growing season that doesn’t contain psilocybin and is safe to eat. Though getting your hands on some is extremely difficult.
Some of haskap’s many names include blue honeysuckle, honeyberry, and sweetberry honeysuckle. These grape-like berries grow in cold climates such as Russia, Canada, and Japan and is easily recognizable by its elongated, somewhat rectangular shape.
19. Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit
Grown in the American southwest, prickly pear cactus fruit comes in shades of purple, pink, indigo and blue. It has a subtle, mellow flavor similar to cantaloupe and is used in candies, jams, or even eaten on its own.
A little-known fact about this lovely flower – which is usually one of the first to bloom in the early spring – is that it is edible. Pansies come in a variety of colors, but most often include shades of blue and violet. Pansies are usually added as a garnish to salads and desserts.
21. Silver Quandong
Native to India, the silver quandong tree produces brilliant blue fruits that can be eaten raw or mixed into culinary dishes. Silver quandong fruit are also used in traditional Indian medicine, as the tree and its fruit are considered sacred, and are often used to treat epilepsy.