Sea buckthorn, — or argousier (French), sanddorn or havtorn (Swedish), olepiha (Russian) — is a thorny bush growing in the sandy soils on European coasts and across northwestern China and Mongolia. The leaves are sage green, and the berries bright orange.
The oil of the hippophae rhamnoides is gaining popularity as a cosmetic ingredient and the berries as a dietary “superfood,” packed with vitamins and nutrients. I first discovered sea buckthorn on the island of Öland, Sweden, when my father’s wife made a custard pie with berries harvested from her yard.
The fruit is pungent smelling, with an herbal spiciness of clementines and cardamom, and has the firmness of a cranberry, with a single seed in the center. The pulp is sour, with a waxy mouth-feel, and tastes like lemons, but without the citrus bite–more luscious, almost like passion fruit. Sugar brings out the flavor beautifully.
Zarkoperfume’s wonderful Cloud Collection–with seaberry at its center, sweetened with jasmine and bolstered with wood and leather notes–shows off the creamy richness of the fruit.
In contrast, Brocard’s Oblepiha i Kryzhovnik pairs the sandthorn with gooseberry, highlighting the astringent spice.
Sea-buckthorn can also be found flavoring herbal and black tea (compare Ahmad’s Sea Buckthorn Candies to Twinings’ Lady Grey) and in jams and jelly candy and–my favorite–licorice truffles.
A unique fruit I hope to taste and sniff more of in the future!