Sakura-Zuke: Japanese Pickled Cherry Blossoms
As with other countries, Japan has a wide range of pickles products. Among those, especially pickled Ume plums, “Umeboshi (梅干し)” is well recognized overseas.
With beautiful white/pink blossoms, “Ume (梅)” is one of the trees that represent Japan’s winter season, but I think the plant most loved by Japanese people is the cherry tree “Sakura (桜)”.
As a matter of fact, while most Japanese annually enjoy cherry blossom viewing in springtime, not so many people go to see Ume blossoms during the winter season.
Like this, we love Sakura, and thus there are various products using cherry blossoms in Japan, which include “Sakura-Zuke (桜漬け)” I introduce here.
Actually, like Umeboshi plums made from Ume fruit, there is a traditional Japanese pickle made of Sakura cherry blossoms, which is called “Sakurazuke (桜漬け)” or “Oukazuke (桜花漬け)”.
Incidentally, in their names, “Sakura (桜)” and “Ouka (桜花)” both have the meaning of “cherry blossom“, while “Zuke (漬け)” stands for “pickle”.
Sakura-Zuke is made of cherry blossoms around three-quarters in bloom, which are pickled in salt or a liquid seasoning made from salt and Ume vinegar.
The salted cherry blossoms can be eaten as they are, but they are often used as a garnish or topping in dishes and drinks, such as Onigiri rice balls, Anpan buns, cakes, cookies, and sake.
The basic way to use Sakura-Zuke is very simple; Just put some petals of the pickled cherry blossom on top of some food or beverage, and you can enjoy it with a touch of grace.
Specifically, here are 2 representative examples of how to use Sakurazuke.
When we Japanese have a formal marriage interview, celebrations, or ceremonies, “Sakura-Yu (桜湯)”, the hot water with Sakura-Zuke pickles, is sometimes prepared.
Sakura-Zuke is typically used as a garnish in sake, and the rice wine is called “Sakurazake (桜酒)”.