As far as we know, the only truly indigo food is the island punch-flavored Jelly Belly, but there are a few members of the berry family that come close. To better appreciate their nutritional and culinary value, we must first understand the connections their particular purplish-bluish shade has to the intangible world. For instance, indigo is related to the third eye (also known as the pineal gland), which is at the geometric center of the human brain and brings focus and clarity to life through photo and time sensitivity. Indigo is also said to engender compassion, discretion and integrity in those who consume it, not to mention its healing effects on diseases of the eyes, ears and nose. For those of you who like to drink your colors and subsequent characteristics, indigo purifies and stabilizes fear, repression and inhibitions.
One of the foremost indigo foods is the blackberry. They grow wild and sweet across North America, although their origins are ancient and mentioned in historical texts from British folklore to the Bible. The "berry" is actually a cluster of tiny berries called "druplets." They have numerous healthful properties, including high tannin levels that can be used as a cosmetic astringent, or to help clot blood and alleviate diarrhea, intestinal inflammation, hemorrhoids and minor infections. Research is currently being done to determine if the tannins found in blackberries also have anti-tumor properties that might one day be used to treat cancer. The catch is, too many berries have an adverse effect on the most prized possession of the elderly, regularity, and they are merciless when wielded by toddlers on pale carpeting.
However, blackberries are rich in antioxidants--the darlings of the health community--boasting such varieties as anthocyanin pigments, vitamins C and E, and ellagic acid, all of which protect against cancer and chronic disease. The process of cooking does little to dull these benefits, so even jams and desserts made with blackberries could be labeled "healthful." Besides, the tiny seeds are a great source of fiber, and the sweet flesh can be consumed fresh, frozen or canned and made into jam, juice, syrup, pie and even wine. Keep in mind that blackberries are a highly perishable fruit that can turn to moldy mush in a matter of 24 hours. If you're clever, they might last a few days, but be sure to remove any suspects that might spoil the bunch.
Another great indigo berry is the black cherry. The flesh of the fruit is very acidic, making it a perfect flavoring for certain types of American rum. These fruits are native to North America and were coveted by Native Americans for their therapeutic properties. The bark of the cherry tree was believed to be an astringent, and the berries themselves are a natural source of flavanoids, antioxidants that protect against free radicals. They also contain calcium salts, potassium, lignins and tannins, the healing aspects of which are so great that black cherry extract is a popular supplement.
Another healthful indigo berry is the boysenberry, the love child of blackberries, raspberries and loganberries. The mastermind behind the hybrid was a man named Rudolph Boysen, though the first commercial cultivation happened because of Walter Knott (yes, that Knott). The experimental berry had been abandoned by Boysen after he sold his farm, but Knott and his colleagues were able to salvage a few frail specimens and nurse them back to health. Knott began selling the unusual fruit at a stand in 1935, and they were so popular that his wife made preserves out of them, which eventually made Knott's Berry Farm world famous.
Any one of these berries makes a great fresh snack or a delightful ice cream topping. They are fun to pick and are a powerful dye whether you accidentally or intentionally. And nothing is cuter than a kid with a face completely stained with the sweet bounty of summer. We just have one question. Do Crunchberries count?