Along the Grapevine

Sea Buckthorn leather: A Roll-up for Grown-ups!



Berries on female bush

This is my third post in a row using berries. The first were juicy sweet blue black nannyberries, the second sour red sumac, and this one is a bitter sweet bright orange sea-buckthorn, or hippophae rhamnoidas.


Male bush

This is a berry I began using when living in Russia and Central Asia, and one I thought I would miss when I returned home. Luckily by then (2007), the cultivation of this had finally arrived in the new world, and although it is far from common, I am sure you will begin finding it in good farmers’ markets before long if you haven’t already. And when you do, I hope my ideas will inspire you to give it a try. Since it can be grown in a cold climate like ours, perhaps people will realize we don’t always need exotic berries from other continents to enhance our diets. How nutritious is it? Just let me say that Ghengis Khan used it as nourishment for his army!

I first came across it at a garlic festival in Perth Ontario, and shortly after found some shrubs at a nursery in the east end of Ottawa. That was about 6 years ago. I have now had two harvests from my three surviving female bushes – I have only one male but he is doing his job well on his own.

I should clarify for those who are turned off the word buckthorn – a nasty, invasive plant that grows around here. This is not a buckthorn really, and have no idea why it has been given that off-putting name. As for the prefix sea, it is not because it grows near the sea. I don’t know for certain, but perhaps it is named so because when you see fields of it blowing in the wind, the delicate silver-green undersides of the leaves make the plants look like waves on the sea. That is just my humble thought.


Bushes blowing in the wind

You are most likely to find this berry as an ingredient in health and beauty products, and it is being touted by some as the greatest superfood out there. I prefer mine unprocessed, and eat it either fresh or steeped in hot water. The flavour is so intense, you can use the same bunch of berries for several infusions. If you find the flavour too strong, it could be mixed with sweet fruits, like apples, pears or peaches.


For this week’s Fiesta Friday, I decided to make a fruit leather. I have never made, or even bought or eaten fruit leather, but this seemed like a good time to start. I collected 6 cups of berries, then strained them through my apple sauce mill, but you could also use a blender or food processor and then strain. I mixed the juice with 3 Tbsp of liquid honey and poured it into a lightly greased, parchment lined cookie tin. I put it in the oven a 170 F for about three hours, at which time I noticed the carroty orange colour was getting darker, but it looked too runny for comfort. I therefore sprinkled evenly on top 3 Tbsp of chia seeds, hoping that would absorb the extra liquid. I returned it to the oven for another 9 hours, at which point the fruit could be peeled easily off the parchment, but it was still flexible and soft.


It has a soft and chewy texture a very intense flavour, tart like a lemon but caramelized. For a less intense flavour, I would mix it with a sweet fruit, or add just a little to any other fruit leather recipe.

A big thank you to Angie and her co-hosts Selma and Elaine. A little tardy this week, I am heading over there now to see what treats await me.


Author: Hilda

I am a backyard forager who likes to share recipes using the wild edibles of our area.

28 thoughts on “Sea Buckthorn leather: A Roll-up for Grown-ups!

  1. Pingback: Crepas de Mole | Fiesta Friday #36 | The Novice Gardener

  2. I love the smell of sea buckthorn – but, as you said, I’ve only ever come across it in beauty products (I have a lovely sea buckthorn shower cream…) I’ll keep my eyes open to see if I can find them in England, too – your idea of a fruit leather looks fantastic!


  3. How beautiful, how much I wish I could try this. I can only kind of imagine it from the smell of the Weleda lotion 🙂


  4. So glad to see someone else using seaberry!!! I use it to make tea from the leaves. It’s similar to green tea. Check it out here:
    Looking on your site it seems we have a lot of overlapping themes. Excited I found your blog and that other people are out there doing the unusual too! 🙂


    • Thanks for dropping by and leading me to your lovely blog. Yes, we do have a lot in common – not just in ingredients used but approach to cooking and eating. We are lucky to have farmers around whom we know personally, and I only buy animal products from them. But I am intrigued to meet someone who knows how to forage in the city. People often tell me they can’t follow my recipes because they live in an urban environment. I have thought of doing a post on foraging in the city but just haven’t had the chance. I figure if you can plant vegetables and eat them in the city, there must be wild edibles too – in fact I have found some great ones.


      • There are so many wild things growing in the city! Sometimes I feel there is more here than there is in the country! It’s really fun to be biking and see chicken of the woods on an oak and no one has touched it! And thousands of people have probably seen it!!!

        You have inspired me to dig deeper in the city and do a post on garden sorrel! Thanks and let’s keep in touch! 🙂


  5. I’ve never had sea buckthorn. I’ll look out for it at the farmer’s market. It may be too warm here in Northern California to grow though (?). Making fruit leather has been on my to-do list for a while. Maybe I’ll finally get around to trying it. I like the idea of adding chia seeds. Great way to sneak more of those into my daughter’s diet. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂


  6. I love the dish you settled on with these berries — the leathers look nice and chewy and tangy. I recently noticed that my mother uses some little bottle of “sea buckthorn oil” on her face and she told me she gets it at the co-op because her facialist recommended it . . . so I recently picked some up . . . but it is unlikely we will ever see bushes or fresh around here. Interestingly, I found my oil at one of two eastern european shops that is 6 blocks from my house — one is ukranian and sells everything from meat to little tchokche dolls and really bizarre odds and ends, and the other is a strictly food place, mostly german. The oil cost a FRACTION of what the health food co-op is charging!!! Anyhow, I can’t help but think that ingesting them is probably the ideal way to reap benefits, but it’s nice to know that many healthy and edible forgeable goodies have topical uses too!


  7. Interesting about the Ukrainian shop. As for cosmetics, I figure if you can’t eat it, it’s better not to put it on your skin. I should do something in the cosmetic department with some of the berries I have left.


  8. What an interesting post Hilda. I am always delighted to find new berries to try and like Ginger will have to keep an eye out for these berries in the UK. Your leather looks fabulous, too! Thank you for bringing this to the party – Happy Fiesta Friday!!


  9. So that is what sea buckthorn looks like! I had no idea. I recently received a nice sunscreen and one of the ingredients is sea buckthorn, which gives the sunscreen an interesting, not unpleasant smell. I also had no idea people are touting it as a superfood. The roll-ups look good, Hilda!


    • Thanks, Ngan. Dr Oz has done a some preaching about it – but mostly in the form of expensive store-bought products.
      And as for the smell, I forgot to mention in my post that the smell in the kitchen when I was making this was wonderful.


      • Interesting! I can see why people are clinging to sea buckthorn as a miracle beauty aid now that I’ve read this article. Have you heard of the Amazonian camu camu fruit? It is also allegedly a super fruit prized for its high levels of antioxidants. What will they think of next?


      • No, I haven’t heard of the camu camu, although I just looked it up. I was in Brazil last year, and they have so many delicious fruits and berries, I had such fun with them. But if there is going to be a food or cosmetic fad, I just hope people will look to local first.


  10. I always learn something new and interesting when I read your posts, Hilda! I would just love to try some of this to discover the taste! It looks so delicious!


  11. You lived in Russia and Central Asia? What took you there? I just love how almost every post you do is on a plant that I either do not know at all or have hardly ever heard of. Are these berries common in Finland as well? They remind me of a picture on a juice bottle I picked up at a market stand in Helsinki last year….


    • Yes, I have lived in a few places, Russia and Central Asia being the most recent of them. My husband was in the foreign service and he spent most of his career overseas. I get a lot of inspiration from the cooking I have grown fond abroad. I’m sure Finland does have sea-buckthorn. It is a great country for making good use of berries, so chances are that is what you bought. Do you remember if you liked it?


      • When I started blogging, it really was more about keeping a “food diary” for myself. But by now it has become something totally unexpected: it is amazing to meet a blogging-friend like yourself and share in a passion and a glimpse of eachother’s lives 🙂
        How exiting to have lived in so many places!
        To answer your question: if it really was the same berry, I am afraid I did not like the juice very much. Sorry to sound crude, but it mainly reminded me of …. ehm, vomit…. :-/


      • It may have been that – can’t say. I know that bitter berries, if unsweetened, don’t usually do well when commercially sold. But I hope you get to try some fresh ones some time.


  12. Wow, you impress me with every your post! 9 hours in the oven! And those berries are very very healthy! May I ask you what Russian city did you live in (I remember you wrote about St.Petersburg)? And had you spend a winter there? 🙂


    • I spent a total of eleven years in Russia and Kazakhstan – 5 years in Moscow and three in Almaty and St. Petersburg. I really enjoyed my time in that part of the world, and learned a lot about cooking. I would love to get back to that part of the world again some time.


  13. On my summer trip to Timmins I actually purchased sea buckthorn face cream. I had never heard of it before then and did not realize it was not grown by the sea or that it was edible. Never seen it in markets but would like to try it!


    • I think it grows anywhere cold and northern, not just by the sea. I hope that it won’t be too long before we see it in the markets at this time of year. I have certainly noticed a lot more mention of it over the past five years, so it is getting there.


  14. Pingback: Sponge Cakes with Crabapple and Sea-buckthorn Jelly | Along the Grapevine

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