Organic Sea Buckthorn
The sea buckthorn is also called the “lemon of the north” since the small berries are full of vitamin C as well as other vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals with antioxidant effect. As a result, the sea buckthorn berry has earned the reputation of a domestic superfood. Allegedly, during the times of Genghis Khan it was already considered a tonic and a remedy for wounds. The fruits are not edible when they are raw as they have an extremely bitter, spicy taste and are very sour. We use organic sea buckthorn powder for our BERTRAND liquid meals since its diverse nutritional content (vitamins, phytochemicals, and antioxidants) make it particularly suitable to adjust the nutritional value of our products according to the Nutrient Reference Values (NRV).
Where do we get our sea buckthorn from?
Sea buckthorn grows all over Central Europe. In Germany it grows wild in many places especially in the coastal regions of the North and Baltic Seas and on the offshore islands as so-called “coastal sea buckthorn.” Wild variants and subspecies’ can be found in the Alps where it is labeled as “mountain sea buckthorn.” But sea buckthorn is also grown commercially on North German plantations as a cultivated plant. The biggest German growing region for organic sea buckthorn is located around Ludwigslust in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The respective supply of organic produce in the individual growing regions is limited however. That’s why we at BERTRAND rely on multiple reliable suppliers preferably located at the Baltic and North Sea. There, depending on the available supply of the growers, we cover parts of our need from different suppliers to obtain the required total volume.
How is our sea buckthorn powder made?
The botanically correct name of the sea buckthorn shrub which belongs to the oleaster family is “Hippophae rhamnoides.” It is also referred to as sandthorn, sallowthorn, or seaberry. While offering an explosion of colors during fall, it is not easy to handle. Like its name would suggest it is riddled with prickly thorns. Between berries and powder lies one relatively difficult step: harvesting. But let us start with the cultivation.
THE SOIL HAS TO BE RIGHT
The sea buckthorn shrub loves sandy, low nitrogen soil. Its wide reaching root system provides sturdy anchorage in the soil which is why it is highly valued along coastlines. The robust shrub can grow up to five meters tall. It expands without any regard for neighboring plants within the soil as well as above the ground. On the one hand, the sea buckthorn owes its name to its preferred habitat, sandy soil, on the other to its many sharp thorns. In April, the shrub bears unremarkable, yellow blossoms that grow into spectacularly vibrant, orange berries between August and October.
WE HARVEST BRANCHES
Mechanical harvesting of the fruits that sit on the branches like pearls is not possible. Since the prickly thorns make plucking the individual berries not feasible a different manual procedure has been established: Whole branches including their berries get cut off the shrubs. The time of harvest is crucial here since unripe berries are extremely sour and leave a slightly furry taste in the mouth. Overripe fruits are inedible. After the trimming the branches move on to the next processing stage.
COLD PRESERVES THE VITAMINS
The whole branches including the fruits get flash frozen at minus 110 degrees Celsius with liquid nitrogen. Thanks of the rapid flash freezing effectively all the valuable nutrients get conserved. With the help of a machine the frozen berries can be easily shaken off the branches afterwards.
GROUND IN THE COLD
Cryogenic grinding describes the superfine grinding of materials in extremely low temperatures. (Greek “kryos” = frost, ice.) Cryogenic grinding is used primarily when grinding at room temperature would lead to problems. This would be the case with the sea buckthorn berry because of its relatively high oil content. Since the berries already got flash frozen during the harvesting process cryogenic grinding eminently presents itself to the production of sea buckthorn powder.
After grinding the berries and drying the sea buckthorn powder; the orange colored, intensely tangy tasting powder gets vacuum sealed. In the process the air gets sucked out of the packaging. Since now no oxidation can occur through oxygenation the product’s shelf life is extended and the vital substances get preserved. In this state the organic sea buckthorn powder is delivered to us filled to the prim with valuable nutrients.
Why sea buckthorn though?
The sea buckthorn berry is primarily known for its enormous vitamin C content. Just 100 grams of berries contain six times the daily recommended vitamin C intake. But one wouldn’t do the small fruit justice by reducing its significance to just vitamin C. It contains plenty of other important nutrients and is in fact a real vitamin bomb. Let’s have a look at the most important nutrients. The high value of the fruit is the result of its high vitamin C content which ranks far above the vitamin C content found in lemons, oranges, bell peppers, black currants, or kiwis. The DGE (German society for nutrition) recommends about 100 mg per day. Orthomolecular medicine with its founder Linus Pauling (1901-1994, chemist and two-time Nobel laureate) even advises to take that value many times over. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, benefits the immune system, as an antioxidant renders free radicals harmless, supports the absorption of iron, assist the healing process of wounds, and is involved in a multitude of metabolic processes.
Vitamin B complex
The sea buckthorn fruit contains the B vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), and B6 (pyridoxine). The B vitamins are important for the support and function of our nerve and muscle tissue. They are involved in the metabolism of protein, hormones, and fat and support the immune system. Additionally they promote the formation of messenger substances for our nervous system. They are often referred to as “nerve vitamins.”
Vitamin E (tocopherol) is known as a potent antioxidant. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and supports the immune system. The fat-soluble vitamin protects plant fats from turning rancid.
Beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A (retinol). The body can produce vitamin A out of the plant based carotenoids. A meal containing some fat facilitates this process. Vitamin A is important for eyesight, growth, reproduction, skin and hair, and also the immune system.
Human intestinal bacteria can also generate vitamin K (phylloquinone) but it has not been sufficiently researched how much this contributes to the fulfillment of the total demand. That is why a daily intake of about 70 mg is recommended (estimated value). Vitamin K plays a role in the clotting of blood and strength of bones.
Like vitamin C stands out among the vitamins, potassium sticks out among the minerals. It takes the lead in mineral content within the fruit with 133 mg per 100 gram. Potassium regulates the body’s water balance and is involved in the transmission of nerve signals.
Additional minerals and trace elements
Iron for the oxygen supply, magnesium for the muscles and endocrine system, manganese for the activation of enzymes, and several other trace elements complete the nutrient dense powerhouse.
The pigments, odorous substances, and aromatics are defined as the secondary plant substances of a plant. In nature they often serve as a repellent to ward off natural enemies and protect the plant from environmental damage. Now it is known that they can also serve the human body well. Antioxidative effects are attributed to many phytochemicals. In the sea buckthorn berry for example plenty of quercetin which is a natural yellow dye can be found. It is partially responsible for the vibrant coloring of the fruit. The pigment is attributed with having an anti-allergenic effect and promoting gut health. The fruit also contains the carotenoid zeaxanthin which is mentioned in connection with eye health. And the sea buckthorn berry contains even more of this kind of substances.
The tiny seed kernels and the skin of the berry contain valuable fatty acids especially linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. The seeds contain 20 percent oil and the pulp still about 5 percent. This amount of fat ensures that the fat soluble vitamins E and K are well absorbed by the body.
- Picture of the sea buckthorn field in the upper part of the page: Yuliya Padina via Shutterstock
- Map of Europe: teka12 via Shutterstock
- Post picture, sea buckthorn on white background: Ines Behrens-Kunkel via Shutterstock