Cherry Blossom Syrup

A Taste of Spring For the Whole Year

Story by Katherine Martin

Photos by Katherine Martin

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Spring has finally come, and with it comes cherry blossoms! I’m not going to lie -- cherry blossom season in Korea is my favorite time of year. The fragile pale blossoms are one of the first signs that winter is finally over for good. 

One of the best parts about cherry blossom season is all the cherry blossom-themed knick-knacks that you can find everywhere! This spring season, though, take up your cherry blossom love up a notch with a way to take them with you throughout the year: Cherry Blossom Syrup.

The first time I made this, I expected the cherry blossoms to taste very floral, not unlike orange blossom water. I couldn’t be more wrong! Cherry blossoms taste distinctly fruity, with soft, lovely floral undertones. They pair very well with many different flavors, like strawberry or lemon. It’s also a great mix-in for yogurt or coffee. 

With this syrup, you can make a multitude of other things, like Cherry Blossom Lemonade, Cherry Blossom Yogurt, or even Cherry Blossom Panna Cotta, if you’re feeling experimental. However, I most often use it in the same way I use regular simple syrup -- for cocktails! Protip: use the syrup in place of sugar in a white wine sangria. It’s fantastic.

The recipe I am sharing below was modified from a recipe by John Rensten of foragelondon.co.uk. It is used with permission.

Cherry Blossom Syrup

Makes 4 jars

Ingredients:

1 bag cherry blossoms (filling a 2 to 3 liter bag)

7-9  cups water

1 teaspoon baking soda or vinegar

4-5 cups sugar, equal to the amount of water

1 tablespoon of corn syrup (optional)

Utensils: 

A big pot, for boiling

Mesh strainer or cheesecloth

4 glass mason jars, sterilized


Directions:

Go out and gather your flowers. Try not to choose a tree around an apartment building because it will probably have been treated more heavily with pesticides. If you want your syrup to be pink, choose a tree with pink flowers. White flowers will produce an amber syrup. 

Once home, remove the leaves and other bits and pieces. Take a large bowl and fill with cold water, and add a teaspoon of baking soda or vinegar. (Baking soda is preferable, as it doesn’t impart any flavor on the blossoms) Drop in the flowers, and gently submerge and allow to soak for 20 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly, making sure not to bruise the blossoms too badly. 

On the stove, fill your pot with 4-5 cups of water, or enough to just cover the blossoms. Boil to a temperature of 80oC, and pour over the blossoms in the bowl and cover. Allow the blossom tea to sit for a minimum of 24 hours. After 24 hours, carefully strain the cherry blossom tea into a large pot using a cheesecloth or a mesh strainer, squeezing the last bits of liquid from the flowers. Sterilize your mason jars either by washing and boiling them or placing them in a 120oC oven for 10-15 minutes. I highly recommend boiling the lids because this makes the rubber ring soften and seal properly.

Bring the tea to a boil over the stove and add sugar equal to the amount of water, about 4-5 cups. Boil until the syrup has thickened and the water is completely clear, about 3-5 minutes. Optionally, add a tablespoon of corn syrup at the end to ensure the syrup stays in liquid form. Pour into your sterilized mason jars, pop on the lids, and allow to cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator. If you don’t plan on consuming the syrup within 4 months, store in the freezer or boil the jars with the syrup inside for 5-10 minutes to make them shelf-stable.

Sean Choi