Fill a bowl with water, and gently rinse the cherry blossoms (bloomed to 60-70%) by pressing down on them with your hands. Drain the water while pinching off the stems and place in a strainer.
Place the cherry blossoms on paper towels. Cover with another layer of paper towels and press down to absorb the moisture.
Prepare the coarse salt and pickling container.
Place the salt in the bottom of the container and then spread out the cherry blossoms. Create layers of salt, cherry blossoms, then salt, and finish with the remaining salt.
Add the plum vinegar or lemon juice, then use a large piece of wrap as a lid replacement and cover to start pickling.
If you place the lid of a small container on top of the wrap as a weight, it provides stability and even pickling.
If you place a canned good on top as a weight and lightly press down on it 2 or 3 times the water will rise. It'll rise fairly quickly. Leave it out in room temperature for 3-5 days.
Drain the moisture, and place the pickled cherry blossoms on top of a paper towel to dry. Use your fingers to gently press out the moisture.
Once they've half-dried place in a storage container or bottle, add 1 teaspoon of the coarse salt and mix well. Store in the refrigerator.
Story Behind this Recipe
When cherry blossoms are in bloom, I want to preserve them as pressed flowers. This can be easily done using homemade red plum vinegar. Add them to baked goods and in bread.
This recipe uses a considerable amount of salt, but it comes in handy when the water rises and during storage. When using these in dishes, do not use the salt. If the cherry blossoms dry out too much, the salt won't stick, so use them while half-dry. Keeping the leaves and the stems brings out the cherry blossom aroma.