Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides)- the Golden Jewel
Author: Pep Kelly, January 2021
Despite growing wild along much of the Eastern UK coastline, it seems few people in the UK have ever heard of this extraordinary super berry and its’ amazing health properties.
Sea Buckthorn is a bright orange, oval shaped berry that ripens on thorny, leaved bushes around August time.
Although often found growing on coastlines, there is plenty of evidence to show that it thrives in inland habitats in swathes of Mongolia, Russia, China and across The Himalayas. It is also referred to as Swallowthorn, Sandthorn or Seaberry.
Sea Buckthorn – The Jewel on the Table
Some time ago, while researching sea buckthorn, I came across Seth Pascoe’s Research Paper, Advancing Sea Buckthorn.
After writing this paper, Seth embarked on an ambitious “labour of love”, laying several acres of Sea Buckthorn on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall near his home in Lostwithiel. Read about his journey and the miracle sea buckthorn cure he discovered during that research, on his website here.
I visited Seth in late August 2020, just as the berries were ripening, plump and full on their branches and a week or so after Rick Stein filmed Episode 9 of Rick Stein’s Cornwall, featuring Seth’s plantation. Tangy and sharp to the taste, Seth sells his crop to top London Chefs who have started to follow their peers from Northern Europe in understanding the beauty and balance that this stringent, punchy berry brings to the table.
Seth Pascoe with Rick Stein in Seth’s Sea Buckthorn Plantation
Sea Buckthorn was propelled onto the culinary stage by the likes of Danish Chef, Redzepi, serving the classic danish dessert, Flodeboller in his World No 1 restaurant, Noma, Copenhagen, after reading about the super-berry in a military survival guide! Today, it is referred to as the “Nordic Passion Fruit” and is considered integral to the Nordic Diet.
Courtesy of Malene Sogaard
Sea Buckthorn with pickled mushrooms, pickled cauliflower on a bed of cauliflower puree and pearl barley, topped with sourdough crisps.
In addition to its’ vibrant, orange glow, Sea Buckthorn presents a powerful punch of health benefits and is said to be one of the most powerful plants on earth.
Russian cosmonauts were supplied with Sea Buckthorn drinks to protect them from radiation and enhance their health and improve their resistance to stress. In 1988, the Chinese designated two Sea Buckthorn drinks as their official drinks for their athletes at the Seoul Olympics.
One small Sea Buckthorn berry contains 8-12 times the amount of vitamin C of an orange, with a minimum of 180 bioactive compounds, it is packed with vitamins and minerals and has huge amounts of protein, fibre and antioxidants. This mighty berry also contains high omega fatty acid content, including Omega 3, 6, 9 and the difficult to find, 7.
Its’ ability to lower levels of CRP (C-reactive protein), a protein associated with inflammation, has also linked sea buckthorn to reduced levels of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
It is due to its health benefits, that we add real Sea Buckthorn berry juice from the only Certified Organic Sea Buckthorn producer in the UK to our Nordic Water Kefir drink.
Nordic Wellness Drinks, Sea Buckthorn Water Kefir.
There is no surprise that Greek mythology claims it was Sea Buckthorn that gave Pegasus his wings. Today many racehorse trainers add Sea Buckthorn to their horses’ fodder believing it gives them the edge on the track.
We first came across Sea Buckthorn a few years ago in Denmark, while visiting the annual chefs’ competition, “Sol over Gudhjem” on the small island of Bornholm. Here, we visited Mads and Camilla at Hostet who a few years earlier had escaped a life in the city (Copenhagen) to create an organic farm, growing Sea Buckthorn and making the most wonderful Sea Buckthorn products. We bought our first Sea Buckthorn berries here and travelled back to the UK with barefoot Sea Buckthorn plants tucked in our suitcases.
Mads and Camila in their Sea Buckthorn plantation, Hostet, Bornholm, Denmark.
Sea Buckthorn grows with relative ease but keeping the berries from the birds and performing the harvest on such a hostile plant is not for the faint hearted! If you choose to pick the berries off the bush, you will undoubtedly suffer a piercing from the sharp thorns and the force required to release the juicy berry from the clutches of the branch, will cause an explosion of orange pulp.
I went to visit Ben and David Eagle, fourth and fifth generation farmers, at their Sea Buckthorn plantation in Essex. They are ten years into a twenty-year diversification plan. They explained to me how they prune off the branches with berries, freeze them and then, when frozen, they shake the berries off into a hopper. They not only grow and sell eight different varieties of top class Certified Organic Sea Buckthorn Berries, but also produce their own Sea Buckthorn products. Check out their online shop here.
Ben and David Eagle with Pep at their Sea Buckthorn plantation, Devereux Farm
Sea Buckthorn for Beauty & Healing
Sea Buckthorn has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. And it’s use in beauty creams and products has long been favoured.
We have found our very own producer of Sea Buckthorn creams on our doorstep. Gemma from PureMess has added Sea Buckthorn oil to several of her products.
Previously an environmental science lecturer, Gemma has created 100% natural beauty products, using only organic and sustainable ingredients.
Gemma Cockerell, PureMess
Gemma’s creams and body lotions (Lemongrass Body Custard and Vanilla Body Custard) are a wonderful indulgence and she certainly understands the Danish concept of hygge with her subscription cozi-box offering.
You can read more about Gemma’s loves and live on her website, www.puremess.co.uk and also read her Sea Buckthorn blog about how Sea Buckthorn benefits not just the inside of your body, but the outside too!