Colour company Pantone has announced its colour of the year for 2020 and it’s Classic Blue, Pantone 19-4052.
Every year Pantone announces the colour of the year, a colour trend they predict will influence all aspects of art, design and culture, this year Classic Blue usurps Living Coral 16-1546, as the colour that will influence palettes throughout the coming year.
The meaning behind the colour was stated by Pantone as “Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era”.
The announcement is sure to see blue influence palettes in 2020, but what about palates?
We’ve seen an upsurge of blue in food in the last year, both in its increased presence in baked confectionary and icings, but particularly in the hunt for naturally occurring blue pigmentation in ingredients.
It is rare to see the colour blue appearing in nature and especially so in food. That is for a number of reasons. First, the compounds that absorb the right part of the electromagnetic spectrum, in order to see blue, a substance has to absorb the part of the spectrum that registers as orange, are extremely difficult to produce biologically. Blue light has the longest wavelength of any colour on the electromagnetic spectrum and it is thought that plants absorb this light in order to grow more efficiently.
When we see blue appearing in nature, whether it be the sky, exotic birds’ plumage, flowers or butterfly wings are not a true form of blue but rather the result of Rayleigh scattering – a scattering of light off of the molecules of the air by particles that are very small; 10 times smaller or less than the wavelength of light, of the black colour.
The same is true of ingredients, while there are some examples of the colour naturally occurring in nature they are hard to find. Even synthetic food colouring is difficult, there are currently only two blue food dyes approved for use in the United States, one produced from coal tar and the other, indigo carmine, which is produced from synthetic indigo, a natural blue colourant derived from spirulina (a micro-algae).
The naturally-occurring blue colour in food is down to the presence of anthocyanins, a pigment, which depending on the pH can appear as red, blue or purple, and responsible for the red-blue colour of many grains, fruits and vegetables.
In recent years, the health benefits of eating blue food have come to the fore, generally, food that contains a high amount of anthocyanins tend to have an antioxidant effect, hence the popularity of blueberries. Together with the rise of food on Instagram and we began to see a keen interest in anything blue in food this year.
Blue Java Banana
The blue banana that tastes like ice-cream went viral in 2019 as the world woke up to this variety. Originating in south-east Asia and found across Hawaii and Central America, the Blue Java Banana’s skin has a green blue tinge before ripening into a familiar pale yellow. What blew people’s minds however, is the fact that it tastes like vanilla ice-cream.
This blue scampi roe is harvested in the Oceans surrounding Australia and have a strong flavour of the sea.
Thanks to their antioxidant benefits, blueberries are ubiquitous. The demand for blueberries has increased dramatically worldwide seeing production in countries such as Chile, USA, Mexico and Portugal expand significantly to meet it. 2020 is predicted to be another very successful year for the blueberry.
A heirloom corn variety once used by Native American populations, the blue-coloured grain has recently found popularity again along with many other forgotten corns.
The blue blood of the Horseshoe Crab
Eaten, in some parts of Asia, the blood is widely used by pharmaceutical companies to detect bacteria. It is so sought-after that in can fetch, in some places, prices of up to $60,000 a gallon.
Malay rice specialty, nasi kerabu is coloured using the blue pigmentation from the butterfly pea flower and usually served with fried chicken or dried fish.
One in every 2 million lobsters is blue due to a defect which causes them to produce a large amount of a certain protein. This, combined with a red carotenoid molecule, creates a blue complex known as crustacyanin, resulting in the blue colour. Several of these blue creatures were caught recently, however, they were saved from the pot and instead happily live out their lives in aquariums.
Cornflower (Centaurea cynaus) – also called Bachelors button, has a slightly sweet to spicy, clove-like flavour. It is an edible flower but because of its bitterness, it is more commonly used as a garnish.
The blue olive has firm green flesh with a pasty, avocado-like texture. It is astringent when unripe, and slightly sour when ripe. In its native home in Sri Lanka.