The cornflower centaurea cyanus is an edible flower belonging to the daisy family. Most notably associated with its vivid azure-blue (“your eyes are like cornflowers”) it does in fact come in several other colours including pink, red, purple, and black. Often seen growing wild in fields, they are also cultivated for gardens. In the USA, they are also known as “Bachelor’s Button” and “Boutonniere Flower” because single young men used to wear them in their lapel as a sign of their marriageable status.
For culinary purposes, the dried petals of the cornflower can be added to teas blends, baked goods, salads, and custards, and they are particularly useful in all their colours as an attractive garnish, or (ground) as a natural food colouring. They can even be frozen in ice cubes for adding to iced beverages.
A pinch of dried cornflowers on top of a piece of white fish adds greatly to the presentation and they can be scattered attractively across cheese boards, salads, cakes, and canapés. Infused in liquids, they can also give off an aroma. Ground down and mixed with a little hot water they can added to icing sugar for a naturally coloured delicately-flavoured frosting.
Cornflower is also a key ingredient in Lady Grey tea.