By Sarah, Gardenista
SF-based Louesa Roebuck has a talent for turning unexpected bounties of foraged produce into beautiful works of art. Case in point: Earlier this spring, she pickled cherry blossoms with her friend Sylvan Mishima Brackett from Peko Peko. Below is an easy tutorial by Roebuck of what they prepared in Sylvan’s clubhouse and test kitchen.
Above: When picking blossoms, Roebuck recommends looking for tender young leaves and buds that are still fairly new and tight. Some may be more open and that’s fine. Soak them overnight. The next morning let them drip dry.
Above: Then sprinkle with handfuls of salt, generously. Put into a nonreactive container, glass or ceramic. Then put a weight on the top, using something which is at least three times as heavy as the flowers.
As they sit in water, the flowers and leaves will leach to form a fragrant brine; eventually you want all the flowers submerged. Let sit for four days in a cool, dark spot, then pick leaves and flowers out with your hands and squeeze out and discard brine.
Above: Put flowers and leaves in a clean vessel and pour Ume vinegar over the mix. The ratio should be three blossoms to one leaf, with enough vinegar for them to be barely submerged beneath the weight.
Above: Let sit for another three days. Drain, then spread leaves and blossoms on a bamboo or straw mat. Let them dry for a day in a shaded spot, preferably on a warm day. Pack them in salt to store.
Above: Seal and store in refrigerator; they will keep about one year.
Rinse before use as you would capers. According to Louesa: “The pickles have a beautiful ume, salty, floral characteristic, unlike anything else, and Sylvan uses them in many ways: as garnish for fish, in onigiri with ikura, or dried and ground to make sakura salt. He most recently served cherry blossom salt with monkey faced eel tempura, for a dinner at Scribe vineyards.”
We’d like to know: Do you recommend any summer blooms to pickle?
Photography by Chloe Aftel