9 October 2016

Sea buckthorn

While watching Den Store Bagedyst (Danish Bake Off) a few years ago, it seemed that there is a bright orange berry that was highly appreciated by the Danes. I'd not come across it previously, but some looking up on the various language versions of Wikipedia gave the impression that this is a berry used in Sweden too. It's called havtorn in both Swedish and Danish, which would translate to sea thorn. But the English common name appears to be sea buckthorn or sea berry.


As the berry picking season in the Stockholm area seemed to be coming to a close, my Mum mentioned that she'd seen people picking some orange berries from the shrubs along the promenade and wondered if I knew what they were. She'd taken a somewhat fuzzy photo of them, but they were quite easy to recognise as sea buckthorn and I got excited. How about that - the promenade is part of the estate and the shrubs were planted as decoration, not for picking. So I asked her if she could pick a few so we could try them out. And not only did she do that, she even got my Dad to help out and they picked over a kilo of these and froze. My Mum even tried them fresh and said they were extremely tart.

So when I went to visit them in October, I took the opportunity to try one of the Danish Bake Off recipes that I'd saved - Macarons with curd from sea buckthorn. For the macarons, I used my usual recipe, but swapped the almonds with sesame seeds.


1 leaf of gelatine
100 g juice from sea buckthorn (~150 g whole berries)
4 yolks
150 g granulated sugar
75 g unsalted butter, diced


  1. Place the gelatine in some water to soften it up.
  2. Make the sea buckthorn juice by placing the berries in a sieve over a bowl, then with a fork or a spoon mash them and squeeze out the juice.
  3. Place the juice with the yolks, sugar and butter in a saucepan and heat up at a medium heat, while stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.
  4. Remove from the heat when the cream is thick enough to stick to the spoon when you try to pour it out.
  5. Squeeze out the water from the gelatine and stir into the cream.Let cool completely.
  6. Pair up the macaron halves to matching sizes, place the curd into a piping bag with a small round nozzle, then sandwich each pair with the curd and serve.

The sea buckthorn was interesting, but not entirely to my taste, there was something about it that gave the feeling that I'd used a flavouring usually used in savoury dishes. Admittedly, the berries I used had been frozen and I'm not sure in what state they were when my parents picked them. But they have this wonderful, vivid orange colour, which just makes you smile when you see them. Once the juice has been squeezed out, it looks like carrot juice.

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The all sesame macarons were a bit in the hard side, freshly made, but I think sandwiching them and leaving overnight would have made the texture quite good. The sesame flavour was a bit intensive, I think I'll try a mixture of sesame and sunflower seeds next to make it more neutral and get more focus on the filling.

I now have a large bag of sea buckthorn in the freezer and I might try it as stuffing for a roast bird of some sort. Or maybe one of my muffin recipes. The Swedish Wikipedia states the berries are used for juice, jelly, marmalade and liqueur. The last one of which I'm tempted to explore, that might work rather nicely.

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