What Is Sea Buckthorn?
Sea buckthorn is a tart orange berry that grows on shrubs native to Europe and Asia. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and as a food source. Sea buckthorn is rich in nutrients and antioxidants, making it a popular ingredient in health supplements, skincare products, and food items. In recent years, sea buckthorn has gained popularity in the West for its numerous health benefits and high nutritional value. It is sometimes referred to as the Siberian pineapple because of its unique taste which some liken to tropical fruit.
A Nutrient Powerhouse
Sea buckthorn berries are a storehouse of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids, which are known to be beneficial to our health. The vitamin C content in sea buckthorn berries is five times more than oranges, and the berry’s vitamin A content is even denser than that of carrots.
Moreover, the berries are abundant in vitamin E, which helps maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails; and vitamin K, which helps in the clotting process and maintaining bone health. Additionally, sea buckthorn berries are abundant in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, including palmitoleic acid, which is a rare fatty acid that promotes the regeneration of damaged cells.
A Multipurpose Berry
Sea buckthorn has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat a variety of health conditions. It has been used to treat digestive issues, skin conditions, and respiratory problems. It has also been used to boost immunity and promote healthy aging. More recent studies have also suggested that sea buckthorn may have anti-inflammatory properties and may help to regulate blood sugar levels.
Apart from health benefits, sea buckthorn berries are also being used in various industries such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture. The oil extracted from the seeds of sea buckthorn is used for cosmetic purposes due to its moisturizing and anti-aging properties. The juice and pulp extracted from the berries are used to make jams, jellies, and even sea buckthorn-based ice cream.
Sea buckthorn is used in a variety of foods and beverages worldwide. The shrub's small, bright-orange berries are often used to make jams, jellies, sherbets, syrups, and juices. The juice and pulp are frequently used to flavor alcoholic drinks and cocktails, which often include sea buckthorn gin and vodka.
Furthermore, the crushed berries' oil is popular in skincare and cosmetic products like face creams, body lotions, and face oils. Sea buckthorn seed oil is used in shampoos, facial cleansers, and conditioners. The shrub's leaves and flowers are also used in many different ways, from feeding livestock to brewing tea.
Sea Buckthorn Plants
Sea buckthorn, also known as Hippophae rhamnoides, is a hardy shrub that belongs to the family Elaeagnaceae. It is native to regions of Europe and Asia but has also been introduced to North America and other parts of the world.
In addition to its medicinal properties, the sea buckthorn plant is also valued for its ability to prevent soil erosion and promote biodiversity. Its deep roots and nitrogen-fixing abilities make it an effective plant for stabilizing soil and preventing desertification in arid regions.
Overall, the sea buckthorn plant is a fascinating and valuable species that has been used for centuries for both its medicinal and ecological properties.
How Sea Buckthorn Berries Grow
Sea buckthorn trees (shrubs) are remarkable for their ability to grow in harsh environments, such as sand dunes and rocky areas, where other plants struggle to survive. In early spring, sea buckthorn trees produce an abundance of yellow or orange wild flowers, which later give way to clusters of tart and nutritious sea berries.
Sea buckthorn plants are unique in that they are dioecious, meaning that male and female flowers grow on separate plants, and only female trees produce the coveted sea buckthorn berry. Female plants produce berries, while male plants produce the pollen needed for fertilization. As a result, both male and female plants are required for successful pollination and fruit production.
The season to harvest sea buckthorn typically takes place in the fall, when the berries have reached their peak ripeness. However, some farmers have found success in harvesting sea buckthorn in the winter when the berries have frozen on the branches, making them easier to pick. Overall, sea buckthorn trees and their occasionally frozen berries are a fascinating and valuable part of many ecosystems, providing both ecological benefits and a tasty and nutritious food source.
Harvesting Sea Buckthorn Berries At Night
Harvesting sea buckthorn berries is a labor-intensive process that requires careful planning and execution. The berries ripen in late summer and early fall and must be harvested before they start to decay. Harvesting the berries at the right time is crucial to ensure that they have the highest possible nutritional value.
While sea buckthorn berries can be harvested during the day, picking them at night is a common practice in many countries. There are several reasons behind this practice:
- Nutritional content: One of the main reasons is that sea buckthorn berries are highly sensitive to light and heat, and exposure to sunlight can degrade their nutritional value and quality. Sunlight is known to degrade vitamin C, and prolonged exposure can decrease other vitamins' nutritional value too. Sea buckthorn harvest time at night helps to ensure that the berries are picked at the optimal time and are not exposed to sunlight during the harvesting process.
- Ripening process: Sea buckthorn berries have a unique ripening process that occurs at night. The berries are green and hard for most of the growing season, but they begin to ripen and turn orange during the night. This process occurs because the cool temperatures at night slow down the metabolic processes of the plant, allowing the berries to fully develop their flavor and nutrients. which makes them easier to pick, and this reduces the risk of them getting crushed during the harvesting process.
- Challenges during the day: Picking sea buckthorn berries during daylight hours can be challenging because of high temperatures and consistent sunlight exposure. During the full light of day, the berries may become soft, and so when picked, they may become damaged or not retain their full shape, and this can impede their flavor and nutritional quality. By contrast, harvesting sea buckthorn berries at night reduces the risk of the fruit becoming damaged, preserves their shape, and ensures that they are plump and easier to handle. Another practical reason for harvesting sea buckthorn berries at night is that the berries are typically picked by hand. Mechanical harvesters can be used, but they can damage the berries and result in a lower-quality product. Handpicking at night allows for a more careful and selective harvesting process, resulting in a higher-quality product that is less likely to be damaged.
- Visibility: Harvesting sea buckthorn berries by night ensures that the pickers can see the berries more clearly. This is because the berry's bright-orange constituents are more visible under the moonlight or artificial lighting systems provided by modern harvesting technologies. A clear vision is vital to ensure that no berries are left behind and that the harvest is more productive and efficient.
- Culture: In addition to these reasons, harvesting sea buckthorn berries at night can also be a matter of tradition and cultural practices. In many regions where sea buckthorn grows, it has been harvested at night for generations, and this practice has become an important part of local culture and traditions.
In summary, harvesting sea buckthorn berries at night is a common practice that helps to preserve their nutritional value and ensure that they are harvested at the right time.
It's no surprise that sea buckthorn berries are a famous and essential source of nutrition, used in various ways worldwide. Whether you’re sipping on a sea buckthorn gin and tonic, lathering on a sea buckthorn beauty product, or just munching on the little orange berries, we can all agree that they are versatile, nutritious, and tastefully pleasing.
It is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids that can help to protect cells from damage, boost immunity, and promote healthy skin. When purchasing sea buckthorn products, be sure to look for certified organic products that are free of harmful chemicals and have not expired.
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