I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I last visited the Danish island of Bornholm, together with my friend André Brandt. We stayed at Nordlandet hotel and our itinerary included, amongst other things, the one Michelin-starred Kadeau and the more casual eatery Pony from the same restaurant family. It also involved a tour of Høstet – a small family-run farm that grows sea buckthorn, or havtorn as it is called in Danish. I’ve never liked the Norwegian name, tindved, in particular, but the Danes have found a name that, similar to the English version, says something about the unique characteristics of this blazing orange berry. The exceptionally hardy plant is largely confined to sea coasts, where other plants cannot survive, and the small berries grow densely on the bush’s thorny branches – making them very hard to pick. With a bright tangerine color, and a tangy, sour flavor reminiscent of passion fruit and mandarin, sea buckthorn is perfect for both cooking and drinks mixing – thus, often referred to as the Nordic lemon. It’s my favorite of the Nordic berries. Keep reading to see my recipe for a sea buckthorn sour cocktail.
Organic Sea Buckthorn Products From Bornholm
Camilla and Mads Meisner are the lovely couple behind Høstet (the name means “harvested”). More than ten years ago, they moved from Copenhagen to Bornholm to establish a new life in the countryside. Their plan was to create an organic sea buckthorn plantation, one of the first of its kind in Denmark, with a goal of educating the Danes about this amazing berry. It took years for the bushes to grow and for the farm to be certified organic, but eventually, the two entrepreneurs were ready to launch their own line of sea buckthorn products in 2014. The series includes, amongst other things, sea buckthorn marmalade, juice, syrup, beer, and schnapps, but also various beauty products, tea from the leaves, and oil from the seeds. What makes sea buckthorn berries so attractive is that they are super rich in vitamin C (each berry has more than a whole orange) and essential oils (used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries), and also vitamin E, carotene, and fatty acids.
Fløjlegård, the farm where Camilla and Mads harvest their sea buckthorn berries, is located on the eastern side of Bornholm. It was in the middle of the harvest season when Brandt and I visited, so we were lucky enough to take part in the cutting of the branches. Since the branches are so full of thorns, and the berries grow in clusters that make them hard to pick, the easiest way to harvest them is to cut the branches, freeze them (immediately), and later shake the berries and leaves off. Mads equipped us with a special rucksack connected to an electric cutting plier that snapped the branches off with a gentle press of a button. The only thing we had to be careful of was not to get our fingers caught between the blades!
Fun fact: sea buckthorn bushes are so-called “dioecious plants,” which means there are different male and female species. Since only the female plants grow berries, the male plants are only useful to pollinate the females, so the males have to be planted in a way that allows the wind to bring the pollen over to the females. For this reason, a farm will usually have at least 10 times as many female as male plants.
How to Help Høstet During the Coronavirus Crisis
Still today, Høstet is a small business, run and operated by the Meisners alone, and they are also noticing the consequences of the Coronavirus crisis. It’s at this time of the year, that Bornholm usually would start to fill up with tourists from Norway, Sweden, Germany, and farther away – but not this year. Only Danes are currently able to visit “the sunshine island,” and for now, no one knows how long that will last.
If you want to support Høstet, you can buy their products here if you live in Denmark, or here if you live in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, or Holland. If you run a restaurant and would like to incorporate sea buckthorn in your menu somehow, send an e-mail to [email protected] or call or text +4553542124. If you do happen to visit Bornholm this season, perhaps if the borders open up, the farm shop at Fløjlegård is open weekdays from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. You can also book a tour and tasting by contacting Mads. I have no affiliation or personal interest in Høstet, other than being a fan who wants these guys to survive so that I and others can keep enjoying their products. Below, you’ll find my favorite cocktail recipe using their sea buckthorn juice.
Recipe: Sea Buckthorn Sour
Ingredients (per cocktail)
4 cl sweetened sea buckthorn juice
4 cl rum or schnapps
2 cl lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
1 cl simple syrup
1 egg white
- Prepare the simple syrup by boiling equal amounts of water and granulated sugar until the sugar fully dissolves. Cool down in the fridge (or freezer if you are in a rush) until at least room temperature, but preferably you want it at fridge temperature.
- Place your cocktail glasses in the freezer to cool them down.
- Squeeze lemon juice. Usually, one lemon per drink is enough.
- Add all the ingredients and plenty of ice cubes to a cocktail shaker.
- Shake in a gentle back and forth motion. You don’t want to dissolve the ice cubes in the shaker too much.
- Serve in a lowball glass with more ice cubes.
- Optional: Decorate with a sage leaf. Give the leaf a gentle clap to release the aroma.
Have you ever tasted sea buckthorn? Let me know where you had it in the comments below.