I hadn't been able to succeed making salt-preserved sakura for many years. It's with this method that I was finally able to make presentable ones. You'll be surprised how delicious and fragrant these are. The dish shown in the picture is sushi rice prepared with these salt-preserved blossoms and sea bream.
Choose double flowered cherry blossoms that have bloomed about 70%. Use flowers that haven't bloomed completely yet. Pick them off the trees from the base of the stems.
Wash the flowers. Separate the clumps of flowers apart so that each portion has about 2 blossoms connected by their stems, like cherries.
Coat with salt gently on the palms of your hands, so as not to damage the blossoms.
Mist the flowers with water, wrap with cling film, and place on a weight about 2 times the total mass of the flowers. Wait at least 2 days. This will help draw any excess moisture and harshness from the flowers.
You're on the right track if your flowers start releasing moisture. Take out the flowers and gently wipe dry with paper towels, etc. (don't wring them out, just press them dry between sheets of paper towels).
Return the blossoms from Step 5 into the container, add the rice vinegar, place a weight on top and leave the flavors to settle in for at least 2 days. After a while, the flowers will turn a bright pink.
Once enough of the color has been extracted, remove the flowers, and pat dry with paper towels... Give one a try. They're so tasty.
Coat with salt.
Pack in tupperware or storage containers.
This is the vinegar that became infused with the sakura during Step 6. It's so vibrantly colored and beautiful. I couldn't let it go to waste, so I used it in the sakura sushi above.
It's great to enjoy as a tea.
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It's great used in preserves...
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These taste and look completely different from the lightly preserved sakura blossoms that are sold in stores, so definitely try it out. It'll depend on the amount of flower blossoms you decide to preserve, but I found that I wasn't able to extract enough moisture at times, so I adjusted the amount of salt to 40% of the sakura.
If it's warm, your sakura flowers will continue to open up while they're being preserved. Try to handle your blossoms as gently as possible, so they don't break apart. Even if the weight you use seems a bit too light, don't worry too much. It's important to stay patient until the salt dissolves and enough moisture starts to seep out of the petals. If the weight is too heavy, it'll crush your flowers. Both flowers that have opened up too much and buds that are still too hard will lessen the flavor and fragrance of your preserves.