A few weeks ago I got to pick fresh Sea Buckthorn berries with a customer of ours at a farm just outside of Edmonton! They can grow on the prairies, neat eh?!
She grew up in Russia picking them in her grandmother's garden and missed them so. I knew how special it would be to help her find this plant, and sought out to connect us with a farmers outside of Edmonton I remembered who had some growing. The berries were ripe and ready for picking and it was a Russian variety of Sea Buckthorn! Wow! The stars aligned for us!
It was so worth the effort when I saw her take her first bite of Sea Buckthorn. Something she hadn't tasted in years since leaving Russia to come here for university. Sea buckthorn tea is a common beverage in homes and cafe's too. It's not surprising really when I dive into the literature to look into the benefits of Sea buckthorn. It sure is a super fruit! High in anti-oxidants, Vitamins A, C, and E, along with omega acids 3 and 7. It's taste profile was like a citrusy mango! So delicious! I have been using sea buckthorn oil for years in my formulations for its benefits in helping nourish and repair the skin. It's great for wounds, stretch marks, wrinkles, etc.
Time flew by as we shared stories as we munched and picked berries. It's neat how the act of tending to plants, whether sowing seeds or harvesting can really connect us to each other in new ways. I believe we feel the generosity of the plants, as they bear their gifts to us with no expectation in return. They invite us to share our gifts with each other. Our gift of stories and connection.
Sea buckthorn is NOT an easy berry to pick. The berries stick to the branches with no stem attached, so getting them off easily with your fingers is tricky but possible. They are small, so it takes quite a while to pick a large amount. It took me all day (5-6 hours) to pick this basket.
What did we do with all the fresh Sea Buckthorn berries?!
We juiced them by squishing them and pressing them through a colander. We also froze some for winter for making whole berry tea like she taught me.
With the fresh juice, we made a simple syrup of 1:1 of juice to raw honey. I've been using it in homemade soda with our soda stream and it's sooo yummy!
The other thing we made with the juice is an Oxymel! What is an oxymel? It is health tonic that has been around for thousands of years. It's fermented with a punch of sour and sweet, that's wonderful for your digestion. They are easy to make and you can use a large variety of different herbs and berries to make one.
We made a small batch to share with our customers and will be part of an autumn wellness box launched on Autumn Equinox!
How to enjoy an oxymel?
- Take it straight like a small shot
- Add to a glass of water and sip
- Add it to hot water, like a lemon water beverage (pictured here)
- Blend with oil to make a yummy salad dressing
How to store oxymels
They are shelf stable for a couple months because they are a low pH with apple cider vinegar a a key ingredient. I suggest storing in the fridge for a longer shelf life.
Want to try making your own oxymel?
The simplest method is to fill a mason jar about 1/2 to 2/3 full with your botanicals or juice, then it's adding Apple cider vinegar and honey to make a sweet/sour beverage. Shake daily for 2 weeks and strain if needed.
Botanicals to try are:
- Pine/spruce needles
- Ginger Root
- Garlic - it's amazing! Delicious in a salad dressing or marinade.