Once a year I get the pleasure of looking out my master bedroom doors to my cherry blossom tree.
Not only is it the largest tree on the block but it’s the earliest blooming cherry blossom tree (since my back patio is surrounded by concrete it’s abnormally warm for the area).
I love this tree so much. Not only does it create shade & greenery to my Urban landscape but it gifts me with beautiful pink flowers every year.
This year I did something I always wanted to do: I made a preservative with the cherry blossoms. I went out back & gathered as many cherry blossoms from standing height as possible…& I was pretty proud of myself too! It took all evening!
When I asked my herbalism group what I should do with the cherry blossoms the overwhelming majority said I should make a cherry blossom hydrosol…
In order to make a Hydrosol I would need more cherry blossoms. A lot more. But I knew this group was right. The only way to get the most out of these flowers was by making a Hydrosol…
What is a Hydrosol, you ask?
Hydrosols are distillates often called floral waters, herbal waters, essential waters, etc. Essential oils are made from hydrosols. Basically you distillate the herb/flower/whatever with water. When you collect the distillate you will see tiny globuales of oil floating in this water distillate. That oil is then extracted from the water & that’s how we get, what is known as, Essential Oils (also the reason why essential oils are so expensive, they are not easy to create. You’ll see why soon). Hydrosols are the water with the oils in it. Hydrosols are safer to use around babies, young children, elders & pets (that can not be said with essential oils) because the oils are diluted by the water.
So I climbed up on neighbors roof (with his permission, of course!) & Went to town on my cherry tree. I was up on his roof for about 2 hours but it was enough to get about a dry gallon’s worth of flowers!
You want to make sure you don’t collect too much leaves of the flowers or branches because that will add bitterness to your mixture.
I added this dry gallon of blossoms to a gallon of distilled water & let them masercate in my biggest pot, which so happened to be my canning pot. You want them to macerate for at least 24 hours.
Then you’ll add a plate on top of your blossoms, place a clean bowl on top of that plate to catch the distillation, flip the top upside down, & simmer low & slow for hours & hours & hours.
When you flip your top upside down you want to add ice to the top of the upside down lid. This cools the steam quicker & makes the water from the steam collect in your bowl. Distilling the cherry blossom water took me 3 days. Mostly because I’m not comfortable keeping my stove on over night & during the day while I’m at work.
After I distilled every last drop of cherry blossom water I could I preserved the Hydrosol. An “organic, all natural” product can have up to 0.1% of citric acid added as a preservative. I had just over 4 cups of distillation. For 4 cups of cherry blossom water that was less than 1/8 of a teaspoon. Literally a pinch
Let me tell you a secret: this smells AMAZING! Every year the birds go crazy over the cherry blossoms. They are constantly picking them off the tree & now I know why. The sweet flavor of the flowers just wafts through the kitchen. Whereas cherry blossom scent is way too delicate to smell to the human nose normally, once you concentrate it it’s heavenly!
Once I dissolved the citric acid in the water, I canned the pure cherry blossom Hydrosol like a jam: in a boiling water bath (BWB) canner for 15 minutes.
For the leftovers that didn’t make it into the jars I cut that in half with witch hazel to be used as a facial toner. Then I canned the cherry blossom/witch hazel mixture in a BWB for 15 minutes. The leftovers that didn’t get canned from that went into my favorite sprayer since I’ll use it right away
There you have it: cherry blossom Hydrosol. It’s easy to make it just takes a lot of babysitting. If you can get your hands on enough cherry blossoms I highly recommend this technique of preserving the beauty of cherry blossoms year round!