In late 2010 I was walking around the Himalayas, up in Spiti Valley and stumbled upon the little NGO named Ecosphere in Kaza, ran by Ishita.
I have many fond memories of my time up there and Ishita has recently been in touch, reminding me of the amazing jams that they make from the Seabuckthorn berry.
I’d never heard of it before and was please to see that it had some ‘wonder’ food qualities, bags of Vitamin C and E and tastes nice on toast. It’s not just jam, there is a whole range of products made from this brilliant little berry.
Seabuckthorn has been used for centuries, the Greeks named the bush ‘glittering horse’. It made good horse feed. According to legend, seabuckthorn leaves were one of the preferred food of Pegasus. It was used as a folk medicine throughout the Roman Empire, Mongolia and Russia. The oil of seabuckthorn was used by the armies of Genghis Khan, apparently making them stronger and more agile.
Considering this, seabuckthorn is surprisingly native to England also. Mainly growing around the South East Coast and found in the slightly less romantic setting of motorway hedges.
Some info. via Ecosphere:
The Seabuckthorn berry (‘Hippophae Rhammonides’), popularly known as the ‘Wonder Berry’ easily fits this category due to its unique composition of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and essential fatty acids usually only found separately from different plants and sources. In the high altitude regions of the Trans-Himalayan belt, nature has endowed Seabuckthorn with properties that are worthy of calling this fruit ‘an ambrosia fit for the gods’. The natives of these regions have utilised the wondrous nutritive properties of this superfruit for centuries and continue to do so till date.
Seabuckthorn is known to contain 10 different vitamins, 24 trace elements/ mineral compounds, 18 amino acids, proteins and many bioactive substances. It is also one of the richest known sources of Vitamin C in the world, containing almost 4-100 times more Vitamin C than lemon. Seabuckthorn is on top of the list for vitamin E, beta carotene and flavonoid content and contains omega 3,6,7 & 9 oils essential to our health and well being.
Seabuckthorn can also be grown in the U.K.:
Here is an interetsing article from the forager guy on Hugh Fearnley’s programmes:
Seabuckthorn and Champagne. Why not! It’s certainly come a long way since Genghis Khan.
Buy the bush in the U.K.: