How To Preserve Sakura Blossoms and Leaves : The Scent of Almonds

It’s almost the sakura season here in Brussels. While sakura blossoms don’t have much fragrance, their petals and leaves contain coumarin, which smells wonderfully of toasted almonds. When the leaves or petals are lightly crushed, you can smell this delicate scent, but it becomes much more pronounced once the flowers and leaves are salted. Drying concentrates the coumarin content and makes its aroma more prominent.

In Japan, salted sakura blossoms are used for various desserts, but I especially like them in tea. The leaves can be used when steaming or roasting fish to lend it an almond scent and I also use them in marinated cucumber salads. You can find great ideas on using salted sakura via Just One Cookbook, a great source for Japanese recipes.

Most Japanese stores, in brick and mortar and online, carry salted sakura flowers and leaves all year round, but if you have a sakura or a sour cherry tree, you can make them yourself. In Japan, Oshimazakura is preferred for its leaves, while Yaezakura for flowers, which are full and have many petals. However, you can experiment with any cherry variety you have in your garden.

Salted Sakura Leaves (桜の葉の塩漬け)

50 cherry leaves, rinsed and patted dry
20% of salt by weight of the leaves, dissolved in water

Blanch the leaves for 10 seconds and dip into iced water to stop cooking. Pour salt over the cherry leaves and transfer them to a ziplock bag. Seal it well and refrigerate. The leaves will be ready after 3-5 days, depending on size and thickness.

Soak the leaves in water for 10-30 minutes before using to remove excess salt.

Salted Sakura Blossoms (桜の塩漬け)

50 g cherry blossoms, rinsed and patted dry
30% of salt by weight of the flowers
1.5 tsp ume vinegar or lemon juice, optional

It’s best to select flowers that are not fully open, as these will have the most intense flavor. Sprinkle the flowers with salt and put them into a ziplock bag. Refrigerate them for 1-3 days. Drain the liquid that seeps out of the flowers and use it for cooking or tisane. If you have ume vinegar, add 1.5 tsp of vinegar to the blossoms and let them sit in the fridge for 3 days. Drain the liquid again. Alternatively, you can use lemon juice and follow the same procedure.

Once the blossoms are drained for the second time, spread them out on a tray and let them dry for 1 day, keeping them in the shade. Transfer the blossom to a glass jar and sprinkle on extra salt.

Before using, scrape of the excess salt and soak the blossom in water for 10-30 minutes. The saved salt can be use in cooking and it also has a lovely almond scent.

Photography © Bois de Jasmin, all rights reserved.



  • Donna: oooh, thank you! I wonder if this technique could also be used with apple blossoms… April 1, 2024 at 9:35am Reply

    • Victoria: It should work with apple blossoms too. But sugar works better to preserve jasmine and roses. April 1, 2024 at 1:47pm Reply

  • ClareObscure: Thanks for this article, Victoria. I’ve often wondered if people in Japan have any way of extending the fleeting ritual of enjoying the sakura blossoms. The recipes to preserve the flavour & colour, salted, look easy with your photos as inspiration.
    I didn’t know coumarin smells almondy. 💐🪻🌷🌸 April 1, 2024 at 9:41am Reply

    • Victoria: In Japan, sakura-flavored items are enjoyed just before or during the season. Still, the flavor is lovely enough to be enjoyed all year round. April 1, 2024 at 1:50pm Reply

  • Aurora: What a pretty custom, I wish there was a Japanese store near me. April 1, 2024 at 11:57am Reply

    • Victoria: I imagine that you can find them online. Of course, if you’re ever in London, you can easily find a store that carries preserved sakura flowers and leaves. April 1, 2024 at 1:51pm Reply

    • Nancy Chan: Hi Aurora, the Japan Centre in London, a Japanese grocery store sells salted Sakura blossoms. April 1, 2024 at 5:48pm Reply

      • Aurora: Thank you Nancy! April 2, 2024 at 11:02am Reply

  • Julie: Alternative Preserved Cherry Blossom recipe. These are dusty rose colour, whole, and not salty. Drop a few in your tea and they will float and expand a bit, as if they fell while you are sitting under a cherry tree.
    1. Pick pink cherry blossoms (Kanzan variety are best) at 20-60% of full bloom. Pinch off most of stem. If it has just rained, don’t wash them, but if not, spray them with water and drain. Place in single layer between dishtowels or paper towels to dry.
    2. Arrange a layer of salt on the bottom of a wide container, place cherry blossoms on it, cover with salt, and continue til all are used. Keep in fridge 2-3 days. Remove from salt, sieving and tossing away excess salt.
    3. Prepare a bottle of cider vinegar: bring to a boil. Optional: if you have 4 hibiscus teabags (for colour), add them to vinegar, cover and steep til cool. Discard teabags. Pour into a sterilized glass mason jar. Place cherry blossoms in it. Slosh and shake them around. Keep in fridge 3 days.
    4. Remove cherryblossoms from vinegar one by one, giving each a little squeeze. Place on plates between paper towels or tissues to dry. The cherry blossoms will be fragrant with a deep, dark cherry scent. Store in small containers. Do not rinse before serving. Serve on top of rice, or cooked in rice, or drop into a cup of tea. from Julie April 1, 2024 at 1:37pm Reply

What do you think?

Latest Comments

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2024 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy