With continuous heat and drought becoming a bit normal, it's difficult to know what to plant that is resilient and also has significant benefits for both your garden and health. Bachelor's buttons (or cornflowers) are a nice choice for any gardener, and they have many uses that are beneficial to both humans, the soil, and insects.
Bachelor's button flowers, known as Centaurea cyanus, have small, delicate blooms are an annual plant that belong to the Asteraceae family. They are native to Europe but have been cultivated and naturalized around the world. They are also referred to as cornflowers, bluebottles, or boutonnières. Often you can find them growing in meadows as wildflowers, but through the years they have been cultivated for their beautiful blue and varied colors as a garden and cut flower.
Some of the colors you will Bachelors Buttons to have are vibrant blue color, shades of pink, burgundy, white, and purple.
They also have a rich history and are associated with various cultural and historical meanings. For example, they were found in the tombs or Egyptian Kings and through time have been associated with Prussian royalty. In some cultures they symbolize luck, wealth, and prosperity. The flower's name, "bachelor's button," is said to come from a Victorian practice of young men wearing the flower as a buttonhole decoration to let society know they are available, and that is how the term "bachelor's button" started.
But here is a surprising fact, Bachelor's button flowers are edible and have been used for culinary purposes for centuries. Their mild flavor makes them a versatile ingredient for various dishes and beverages.
Here are some ways they have been used in cooking:
Color Enhancement: Bachelor's button flowers have many vibrant colors, but blue is most favored as an attractive addition to salads, desserts, and other dishes. They can be used to add a pop of color and visual appeal on a plate.
Garnish: The petals of bachelor's button flowers can be used as a garnish for both sweet and savory dishes. Sprinkle the petals over salads, soups, appetizers, or main courses to enhance the presentation.
Tea: The petals of bachelor's button flowers can be dried and used to make a delicate and visually appealing herbal tea. The tea is often enjoyed for its mild, earthy flavor and potential health benefits.
Flavor Infusion: The petals can be infused into various culinary creations, such as syrups, vinegar, and oils, to add a subtle floral note to dressings, marinades, and desserts.
Candied Flowers: Bachelor's button petals can be candied and used to decorate cakes, pastries, and other desserts. Candying involves coating the petals with a layer of sugar, which not only preserves the flowers but also adds a touch of sweetness.
Culinary Experimentation: Creative chefs and home cooks have experimented with using bachelor's button petals in different dishes to explore their unique flavor profile. Some people describe the taste as slightly sweet and earthy.
It's important to note that while bachelor's button flowers are generally considered safe to consume, it's recommended to ensure that the flowers you are using are free from pesticides or other chemicals. If you plan to use them in your cooking, it's best to grow them yourself or source them from a reputable supplier that provides edible flowers.
As with any new culinary ingredient, start with a small amount to gauge how the flavor and appearance of bachelor's button flowers work in your dishes.