If you’ve ever been to Japan, played Final Fantasy, or even watched a Japanese film, then you’ll almost certainly see the beautiful cherry blossom trees (Sakura in Japanese). Cherry blossoms are a very important part of Japanese culture and are found in the country’s art and landscapes.
Recently, somebody asked me, “Are cherry blossoms edible?”
Cherry Blossoms are edible. The petals and young leaves can be used in salads or as a garnish, while the seeds can be roasted and ground into a powder to use as a seasoning. The flowers are also candied and used to decorate cakes and other desserts. While the taste of cherry blossoms is not unpleasant, it is not particularly distinctive either, so they are usually used more for their visual appeal than for their flavor.
In today’s post, I’m going to explain a little bit more about the culture and reason behind consuming cherry blossoms. I’ll also explain the difference between edible and non-edible cherry blossoms, so you don’t end up making a mistake and getting sick! Let’s take a look.
How Are Cherry Blossoms Eaten?
Cherry blossoms are consumed in a number of ways, just as one would consume or mix an herb into their regular food or drink. Some people even bath in water with cherry blossoms to promote skin regeneration and renewal!
Some of the most common ways to consume sakura cherry blossoms include:
- Cherry blossom tea.
- Cherry blossom cookies.
- Cherry blossom mochi (here’s where to buy it!).
- Sakura-an (a white bean paste mixed with chopped cherry blossoms).
- …and more!
During the Japanese Hanami festival (when the cherry blossom season is celebrated), families and friends often gather and create hanami feasts. These feasts typically feature dishes and candies like the ones listed above, which are centered around colorful sushi meals or dishes that include the sakura cherry blossoms as an ingredient.
Are There Nutritional Benefits To Cherry Blossoms?
Yes! In fact, sakura cherry blossoms are generally noted for their high concentration of antioxidants. Similar to green tea, antioxidants can help to reverse and repair cell damage. This, in turn, is associated with cherry blossoms having anti-aging and immunity-boosting properties.
Additionally, the leaves of the flowers are high in fatty acids. When ground into a paste or mixed into a topical solution, cherry blossom can moisturize the skin and even help to lighten dark spots and scarring!
What Is Sakura Cherry Blossom Wagyu?
If you’ve ever come across Sakura Wagyu Farms, then you may be wondering if the fine cuts of A5 wagyu steak are infused with cherry blossoms. However, this is just the name of the farm, which is meant to show respect to wagyu beef’s Japanese heritage. The beef itself is not infused with any cherry blossom.
Can You Make Drinks With Cherry Blossoms?
Although craft cocktail culture originated in America, the trend quickly traveled overseas to Japan as well. During the cherry blossom season, it’s common to see Japanese mixologists grinding the dried sakura leaves and mixing them into cocktails with Japan’s famous Hibiki whiskey. The cherry blossom leaves are also used as a colorful garnish.
Are All Cherry Blossoms Edible?
While most cherry blossoms are edible, there are some that are actually poisonous. The most common poisonous cherry tree comes from the genus Prunus Serrulata. In humans, the flowers and leaves can cause indigestion. When consumed by dogs, the result can be deadly.
As long as you’re purchasing your cherry blossoms from a reputable food distributor or grocery store, tough, you shouldn’t have any problems!
What Is The Significance Of Cherry Blossoms In Japanese Culture?
As somewhat of an expert on the topic, I’m often asked questions about Japanese culture and cuisine. A while back, somebody asked me about the significance of cherry blossoms in Japanese culture.
The easiest way to describe it is that the cherry blossoms represent a time of renewal, similar to other spring solstice festivals in Western countries. The cherry blossoms only bloom for a few short weeks during the beginning of the spring and quickly die after pollination.
During this short period, there are a number of festivals hosted in honor of the spring season, including meals, parties, and even national sumo wrestling competitions!
One of the deeper meanings behind the festivities is to appreciate the short life of the cherry blossom. It encourages people to appreciate the beauty in the small things and to realize how short life is. This, in turn, transfers to a greater appreciation for friends and family (hence the celebrations and festivities).
Cherry blossom can be an excellent additive into food, desserts, teas, and topical skin remedies. They are full of antioxidants, have a sweet aroma, and can add a wonderful scent to any meal. If you ever have the chance to visit Japan during the springtime, be sure to check out the country’s many sakura festivals!