Recipe: Sea buckthorn and apple jelly.


This post is an old one from waaaaaay back in 2012 (and updated several times since). I have updated the link to feature my berry cookbook The Little Prairie Book of Berries, which includes several savoury and sweet recipes using sea buckthorn berries. 

(Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)

My hubby and I managed to get out this past Saturday morning and gather some sea buckthorn fruit so that I could try my hand at making jelly from it.  If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you’ll recall that I made a sea buckthorn beverage last year – I just love the citrusy taste of the berries and their gorgeous sun-bright colour.

Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is a fairly common roadside plant here in Calgary – the City planted many of them years ago, mostly for erosion control on slopes.  It’s one of those shrubs you’d be hard-pressed to kill:  it’s tough-as-nails, drought-tolerant, pollution and salt-tolerant (good for our winter roads and all that de-icing salt), and a fairly aggressive spreader.  You don’t find it employed as an ornamental landscape plant very often, but it’s really very pretty, with silvery-green leaf clusters and the brilliant autumn fruit.  (Both male and female plants are required for fruit production).  Sure, some people may be turned off by the thorns, but they contribute to the shrub’s rabbit and deer resistance, which can’t be a bad thing, right?!

The only thing that irks me to no end about gathering sea buckthorn berries is that it’s just such a difficult process – the fruit only comes off the stems under extreme duress.   The kind of duress that leaves you standing there with bright orange seabuckthorn juice all over your clothes and squirted in your eye.  I’ve read that commercial harvesters of the shrub just go along and prune off fruit-bearing branches, freeze them for awhile, and then “shake” the berries free…but I didn’t give that a go.  I ought to have – it took me FOREVER to get the berries off of the branches.

But it’s worth it for this jelly.  Trust me.  It’s so yummy and pretty!

Small-Batch Sea Buckthorn and Apple Jelly

(I added apples to this recipe because I didn’t use commercial pectin – sea buckthorn doesn’t have very much natural pectin, so the addition of a high-pectin fruit helps the jelly set properly.  I had some British Columbia-grown ‘Sunrise’ apples, but use any variety you love.  Crabapples would work as well).

4 cups sea buckthorn berries, washed thoroughly

3 apples, washed, peeled, cored, and diced finely (if you don’t want to go to the trouble, and your apples are organic, you can leave the peels on)

1/2 cup water

Place berries, apples and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer fruit for 20 minutes.  Stir periodically and crush the fruit against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon.  (It all mashes down pretty well on its own, and won’t require much additional help).

Strain the fruit through a jelly bag (or several layers of cheesecloth) over a large bowl.  Don’t force the fruit through the bag – this will make the jelly cloudy and you don’t want that!  Set it up so that the fruit can slowly strain overnight.

In the morning, sterilize your canning jars and lids.   Measure out the juice.  I ended up with 2 cups using this recipe, but your measurement may vary slightly.  Place the juice into a saucepan and mix in an equal amount of white sugar.  Bring the sugar and juice to a rolling boil and boil, stirring constantly, until you’ve reached gel point.

Carefully pour the jelly into the sterilized jars, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (don’t forget to adjust the length of time according to altitude, as specified in this handy chart).  If you plan to eat the jelly soon and don’t want to go to all the trouble of processing jars for storing, you can just pop the jars into the fridge once the jelly is cool.  It is a very small batch, after all…and you’ll be hooked once you have a taste!

Do you grow sea buckthorn in your garden, or do you forage for sea buckthorn berries?  

 Looking for more sea buckthorn berry recipes?


Check out The Little Prairie Book of Berries!



  1. Interesting berry by the sound of things. It looks quite colourful for a berry, not to mention the jelly. Well done and enjoy the “fruits” of your labour – pun intended of course! Hee hee.

  2. I was so excited to see your post about Sea Buckthorn! I bought some seeds to try and grow some of my own but was wondering how they would do where we live. We live on pure sand. It’s good to hear that it’s “tough-as-nails”. 🙂 Now I can hardly wait to start them in the spring. I wonder how long it will take to get any berries. Your jelly recipe sounds delicious (and very pretty)! I’m going to have to print it out for when we get our berries!

    • From what I understand, sea buckthorn does very well on sandy sites, so I’m sure you’ll have great success! According to this article I found sea buckthorn does take awhile to produce berries if sown from seed – up to 5 years, in fact, but once it gets going it can be productive for at least 30 years. So it will take a bit of patience at first but it will be worth it! Thanks so much for the comment and the follow! 🙂

  3. I’m a Swiss living in Nebraska, USA. I’m familiar with this wonderful berry growing well in Northern German. I don’t think they would grow here. I’m trying to find where I could find jam or jelly made in Canada.

    • I’m afraid I’m not sure where you can purchase food products made from sea buckthorn here in Canada – you can get some medicinal products in certain health food stores, but not jams or jellies. It’s not a very common food product just yet, though I think more people are becoming aware of how delicious and healthy it is. I did a Google search and didn’t come up with anything concrete. I’m so sorry I can’t help more.

      • That was my own experience, that is all I could find online. As you said I hope someone out there can make some money by producing these healthy and yummy preservatives.

  4. Reblogged this on Flowery Prose and commented:

    I don’t usually reblog posts (my own or otherwise) on Flowery Prose, but sea buckthorn are now ready to harvest here in western Canada and I thought it might be appropriate to share a recipe in which to use them! Have you ever eaten sea buckthorn berries?

  5. Looks delightful. I can find mentions of Sea buckthorn on New Zealand websites but no actual evidence that it is grown here. Lots of sea buckthorn health products. It seems to be a ‘super food’. We do get Sunrise apples 🙂

  6. My parents used to have a cottage at the Dutch sea side and sea buckthorn is wide spread there as well. Not only delicous in jelly and chutneys but also good for the skin in soothing creams and masage oils. When I visit my family I always take a few jars and bottles home. A beautiful shrub to, so sturdy in the harsh sea storms. Thanks for briging me back to happy place from my youth ;0) ♥ Johanna

    • I have read that you can get all sorts of skin creams etc. made of the oil of the berries…I will look for some (someone must be making them here in Canada!). I think perhaps in Europe sea buckthorn is much more widely known than in North America and people there have been enjoying it for many more years than we have.

  7. Yes, my love, what we send out returns that light as powerful energy again back is one with the unconditional love, so I wish you a beautiful Monday and everything good for you sending divine blessing you with.I am pleased to have found you on the wide network…The most important item is the health without which there is mostly no longer so good.Sincerely Andrea

  8. Sheryl, the color of your jelly is amazing. I have heard of Sea Buckthorn, but don’t know much about it. Apparently it will grow here in South Texas (I found an article talking about it growing in Austin, TX – zone 8 I think). I need to check it out.

    • I just adore that bright citrus colour, too! I suspect you may be able to grow sea buckthorn where you live…it seems to be very widely distributed and it can tolerate a huge range of soil types and climates.

  9. I am growing sea buckthorn in PNW, you need to have female and male to have berries.
    Berries are very sour, I can’t eat them just from garden. I juice them and make oil from leftovers. This year I made jam and we all like it.

  10. Sounds lovely! I had some home made apple jelly this morning (not mine!) on french toast (mine!) and it was a bit watery but delicious with all sorts of grape and pear flavours in it (even though it was only made with apples) and I thought it would go well on so many things, from toast to chicken to eggs! What do you recommend eating this jelly with?

    • I love apple jelly as well! I don’t make it very often, however – something I ought to rectify in the future. While I’d tend to pair apple jelly with sweet breads or cakes, sea buckthorn jelly has a bit of a tangy, citrusy taste and would go well with both sweet and savoury breads, biscuits, scones, crackers, etc.. I wouldn’t hesitate to pair it up with chicken or fish as well (I sometimes glaze meat with marmalade, and sea buckthorn jelly would be a good substitute for that. For that matter, you could use apple jelly as well). Thanks so much for stopping by and dropping me a line, I appreciate it!

  11. I’ve never seen sea buckthorn or even sea buckthorn berry oil, but I’ve a bit of study about its juice tasty and its pharmaceutical properties. As far I know it has been used for centuries mainly in northwest asia and Europe juice from sea buckthorn berries is a very popular drink in many parts of Asia and Europe. I found in a blog post that sea buckthorns contains about more than 190 nutrients including vitamin, high protein and organic acids. Thanks a lot Sheryl and all commentator for such informative discussion, I will must try to manage some sea buckthorns as well.

  12. I have recently moved to Finland and wondered at these beautiful berry bushes growing wild along the coastline. I researched and have now made two small batches of jelly from your recipe! Thanks for your help!

    • Hi, Jody, thanks so much for your comment! No – you wouldn’t want to pick sea buckthorn berries now, as they will have fermented on the shrubs. The best time to pick it is in late August, early September. There are many plantings of sea buckthorn in the city – look for plantings anywhere there are slopes near overpasses, parks etc. (the City uses it for erosion control). You may need to get permission to pick, depending on the place you go. If you plan to urban forage, try not to pick produce from highly polluted areas and give the berries a really good scrub! Have fun gathering sea buckthorn berries next year!

  13. that is such a gorgeous orange color, very warm and inviting. I collected autumn olive berries today, from an invasive shrub that pops up everywhere and then grows very quickly. Most people don’t know that the berries are edible, highly nutritious and make a great jelly and juice. I have never seen buckthorn here in VA; it must be a shrub accustomed to the Northern climate?

    • The autumn olive berries sound fantastic! I’ve never seen them here, but I know they’re on the prohibited noxious list in Alberta’s Weed Control Act, so I’m assuming they’re fairly under control. Sea buckthorn does indeed perform well in cold climates – it’s very common in places like Russia and China and parts of India. It’s pretty adaptable, though.

  14. Thanks for this! We just discovered sea buckthorn berries in the park by our house in SE Calgary, and plan a foraging visit 🙂

  15. How talented you are! Do you literally collect the berries from the plants you find in the wild? I have heard that there are many edible plants in the city but am not confident that I’d pick the right ones!

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