- 100 g sakura blossoms with stems
- sea salt-1 Tbs for dehydration, 4 Tbs for storage
- 4 Tbs plum vinegar (which is essentially gently-fermented brine from salting Japanese plums or Ume.)
In this case, my error was in picking fully-open blooms. After the pickling and pressing, the petals fell out, exposing pistils and stamens. Bald (hage) flowers are not pretty. I ended up plucking the petals off, then rolling them into tiny boules before drying them. It is my vision that these boules of petals would unfurl into the steaming hot tea. We'll see if that happens. *Update: they did!
Step 5: Place the blooms in a small jar and add sea salt for storage. Voila! Your very own salt-cured Somei Yoshino Cherry blossoms!
(Shidare, Harvested April 6, 2010)
Of the three, Shirotae was white, Somei Yoshino was pale pink, and Shidare was the darkest pink (and most similar to the recipe). However, in terms of aroma, Shirotae was most aromatic, followed by Somei Yoshino. Shidare smelt the least alluring of the 3 varieties I picked. Trade-off between color and aroma! Well at least I have 3 different flowers to mix and match.
(Finished Shidare Zakura no Shiozuke!)
*Update: Once the curing process was complete, I plopped a couple off Shidare flowers into hot water and behold.. they did open up a little. I was a little disappointed that their pink color was leached into the tea and that the tea wasn't reminiscent of the sweet plum smell from the salting. In fact, it smells like cut grass, which really isn't very appetizing, taste-wise. Use hot green tea to mask the zing, perhaps? I will try them in onigiri (rice balls) and update later on their taste.
(Yamazakura, harvested April 16 with Ws in the pouring rain, just outside Berryline in Cambridge)
Thanks to Keiko H., Japan-Guide and Jmode for helping with my identification of Sakura varieties :)