Sakura No Ha Shiozuke (Salted Preserved Cherry Leaves)
Some times we need to plan ahead to reap the rewards later. You may be familiar with the Japanese spring time wagashi called Sakura mochi. A chewy pink glutinous rice ball filled with sweet bean paste and wrapped in an edible cherry blossom leaf.
The leaves are hard to obtain outside of Japan, but with a little planning ahead you to could be making these next spring. These pickled leaves capture the full unique fragrance of the Japanese Sakura. And now after the blossoms have gone and the new green leaves emerge is the perfect time to pick them.
I chose to use the leaves from Yaezakura the double blooms that come out later than all the other cherries. I also use this variety to make Sakura shiozuke pickled preserved cherry blossom for which I already have a recipe for on this site.
You will need to find a tree preferably away from a main road and free from pollution. I am lucky to have a row of these trees near where I live.
So on a rainy day in May I went and picked some of the new green leaves after the blossom had fallen to make pickled Sakura leaves for my wagashi next spring.
After returning with the leaves I picked out the biggest ones and carefully washed them.
You will need about 40g of leaves
For every 10g you will need 2g of fine salt this one is a Japanese salt I bought from sous chef
You will also need some umesu to pickle the leaves. Umesu is a traditional seasoning made by pickling umeboshi plums and red shiso leaves. I like to buy the one from Clearspring which is made in Japan.
After you have weighed your leaves put them in a bowl and blanch them with boiling water.
When you smell the steam you can smell the distinct aroma of Japanese Sakura.
Then lay them out on some kitchen towel, I did this in layers on top of each other and then gently pressed to dry them.
Then fold over each leaf and lay them in a plastic container with a lid.
Sprinkle over the salt and finally add around x4-5 tablespoons of umesu around and over the leaves.
Cover with some plastic wrap put on the lid and leave in a cool place for about a week. After this time wrap the leaves in plastic wrap and put them in a ziplock bag and keep them in the fridge until next year. The leaves will turn brown over time. When you want to use them soak the leaves to remove the salt in warm water for 15-20 minutes.
I hope you will be able to enjoy the taste of spring time in Japan. When you are ready to make sakura mochi I also have a recipe on this site for how to make those as well. If you haven’t made pickled Sakura blossom do not worry those are a little easier to obtain from asian supermarkets.