sakura: 2 posts

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.

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Salt and Flowers

A Japanese friend once served me a cup of sakurayu, a salted cherry blossom tea that she brought from Kyoto. The flowers unfurled slowly in the hot water, turning the liquid a shade of pale pink and infusing it with the aroma of almond and apricot. This springtime drink made me wonder what it is about the combination of salt and flowers that makes it so intriguing. The topic of salt and flowers is the subject of my FT column, Magic of Salt. I explore salty effects in perfumery and the way they can uplift floral notes.

Salt has its own mild scent and, depending on its processing and provenance, it ranges from bitter and iodinated to flinty and flowery. However, the magic of salt is its ability to volatilize the aromas of other ingredients. You can experiment by cutting a tomato in half and smelling it raw. Then sprinkle it liberally with salt, wait for a few minutes and have another inhale. Even if your tomato is an uninspiring greenhouse variety, once salted, it will have a more pronounced perfume. To continue reading further, please click here.

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