Tis the season of floral festivities! This has got to be my favourite time of year, when the traces of winter melt away and the hedgerows around London transform into the most beautiful masses of white and pink. When I think of Spring, the first thing that comes to my mind are plum blossoms, because these delicate, little blossoms are some of the first to bloom during this time of year.
The weather in England is warming up, and you can definitely feel Spring in the air. I went on an afternoon stroll in the park today, and I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful little blossoms speckled across the plum blossom tress, and as I walked closer towards the trees, the air was filled with a delicate and intensely sweet fragrance. For me, the sweet, floral fragrance of plum blossoms is the very essence of spring. last year I planned on experimenting and creating new recipes with this underutilized edible blossom, but I never got around to it, so I thought I’d make the most of them this year and create a few recipes inspired by these wonderful blossoms! I want to share some information about where plum blossoms are found, how to gather and prepare them, as well as ideas on what you can make with them, so if any of you want to join me on this journey of floral delights, you can. :)
WHAT ARE PLUM BLOSSOMS AND WHERE CAN THEY BE FOUND?
Plum blossoms, also known as Prunus Mume, are an East Asian and Southeast Asian tree species. It is believed that Prunus Mume originated around the Yangtze River in the south of China, but these beautiful trees are now grown around the world. They can be found in hedgerows around London and can be seen throughout the British countryside.
Generally, mid-April or early May is Plum Blossom month in England, but the blooms can appear as early as March, and can last until the end of May depending on the temperature changes. You’ll find that some cherry blossom trees will start to bloom around the same time, and these blossoms are also edible. The main differences between the two blossoms are that plum blossoms tend to be white, whereas cherry blossoms have a light pink colour. You’ll also find that plum blossoms have a much more intense floral fragrance when compared to the cherry blossoms.
WHAT CAN PLUM BLOSSOMS BE USED FOR?
Did you know that there is a whole culinary tradition devoted to Cherry and Plum Blossoms in Japan? The Japanese add them in jellies, puddings, cakes, teas and so many other dishes, so this leaves me wondering why they’re such an underrated culinary ingredient in the UK. These blossoms are a beautiful addition to anything sweet. They have a delicately floral and sweet flavour which infuses beautifully in baked goods, teas, syrups or any light, cream-based dessert. I have a few recipes in mind that I’m going to experiment with, and I’ll be sharing them in the next few days.
HOW TO GATHER AND PREPARE PLUM BLOSSOMS
The best time to pick plum blossoms is from early-mid May. I’d recommend gathering the newly bloomed blossoms as these are a little sturdier – the blossoms that are older tend to be incredibly delicate, so it’s easier for the petals to fall off. To gather them, pinch off the plum blossoms at the base of the stem, and be sure not to gather any of the leaves along with the blossoms. To clean the blossoms, place them in a large bowl filled with water and gently move them around in the water. Fish the plum blossoms out using a slotted spoon and place them on some kitchen towel to dry. You might find that some of the blossoms lose their shape during the cleaning process, but don’t worry as this won’t affect their delicious flavour. Make sure to gather the plum blossoms when you’re ready to use them, as they tend to wilt quite soon after you’ve picked them.
I’m really looking forward to going out and gathering more plum blossoms in the next few days, and experimenting with different recipes. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be making, but I have a few interesting ideas, so stay tuned!