25 Mar 2016

桜の葉の塩漬け ・ Salted cherry leaves

When salted, cherry leaves develop a unique tangy aroma and taste. Salted cherry leaves are used in many Japanese sweets and meals popular in springtime. Most often they are wrapped around something quite sweet, so that the salty, sour aroma will balance out the sweetness. I've seen them on sale in Ikebukuro Tokyu Hands, so if you're visiting Tokyo. (I'm sure they are sold in many places in Japan, but that's the place I know). You can also try making them on your own too. If you'd like to celebrate this year's hanami eating sakura mochi with your own pickled leaves, that's unfortunately too late, as the leaves come after the flowers (you can pickle them too!), but be ready to pick the leaves as soon as the blossoming is over once the leaves have grown big enough but are still soft.

Happy Easter! At the moment I'm flying towards Amalfi Coast and enjoying my short vacation. Maybe I'll even glimpse some blossoming cherry trees there...

桜の葉の塩漬け ・ Sakura no ha no shiozuke

50 cherry leaves
  • preferably Oshimazakura's, but any flowering cherry tree will probably do. I've collected leaves from   random cherry trees and they've always worked. Just make sure to collect young soft leaves (with the petiole). Try to pick larger ones, they will be more versatile.)

30 ml (2 Tbsp) sea salt
60 ml (4 Tbsp) water

Boil 60 ml water and let the salt dissolve in it (all the salt might not dissolve). Let cool a little while. Rinse the leaves.

Bring plenty of water to boil, and blanch the leaves for 15-20 seconds. Immediately transfer to an ice water bath to stop cooking. Make stacks of 10-15 leaves (it's easier when done under water). Gently press each stack between your fingers to get rid of excess water. Place the stacks in a container.

When the salt water has cooled (at least to room temperature), pour it over the cherry leaves. Seal with plastic wrap by putting it directly on top of the leaves. Put a weight over them (e.g.1/2 liter water in a ziploc bag etc) and refrigerate for 2 days. After 2 days, drain and wrap in plastic, put in a Ziploc bag or container, and keep refrigerated for up to 1 year or freeze for up to 2 years.

Before using the leaves, soak in water for 10-30 minutes to remove excess saltiness. Remove the petiole if it's still firm.

Adapted from: http://recipesfortom.blogspot.fi/2013/03/sakura-no-ha-no-shiozuke-salted-cherry.html

You might want to try pickling the blossoms, too:
Salted Cherry Blossoms

Recipes to use your salted cherry leaves on:
Kanto Sakura Mochi
Sakura Domyoji (in Finnish)

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