Welcome to the Love Your Local Larder Podcast! A podcast that celebrates local produce with the people who cook and grow it.
In this episode of Love Your Local Larder, we dive into the story of Seabuckthorn Scotland, a small social enterprise based in Edinburgh who specialise in wild-crafted juices and sharing knowledge about seabuckthorn. We were so excited to speak to this company and learn more about this under-appreciated plant, its health properties and the company's sustainable practices. Join us as we explore the journey of this unique business and learn about the incredible benefits of seabuckthorn berries. Get ready to be inspired by the passion and dedication of the team behind Seabuckthorn Scotland.
Kirstie Campbell started the company in 2019 as a social enterprise with the vision of making more people aware of the wonders of seabuckthorn. She was first introduced to the berries when working as a professional humanitarian worker in Pakistan. Upon her return to Scotland, she discovered that East Lothian was covered in seabuckthorn and that they were being massively neglected for their health benefits. So she made the decision to harvest the berries, harness their natural powers and invest in research.
We made the lovely scenic journey out to Kirstie's unit on a farm in East Lothian to chat to her. Listen to the podcast episode here...
The team at Seabuckthorn Scotland do most of their work outdoors in nature, they can usually be found foraging or harvesting seabuckthorn. We even did the interview outside in a bright orange gazebo, pretty on brand if you ask us! We were then given a tour of their unit at the farm which was covered in large freezers where the seabuckthorn berries are stored at each stage of the production process. When we opened the freezers, we were hit with strong scents of citrus and the sight of gleaming orange berries. It was truly a delight for the senses and by this point, we were very eager to start the interview and learn more about this wonderfully mysterious berry.
So what is seabuckthorn? Seabuckthorn is an ancient, hard and thorny plant that grows in abundance in mountainous and coastal areas of the world. It has a very long history as it's estimated to date back 70 million years! The plant is covered in thick thorns, green leaves and bright orange berries. These orange berries are what Kirstie uses to produce raw seabuckthorn juice.
This tiny, special berry contains lots of nutrients and is considered a superfood. It holds many powerful health properties such as high levels of antioxidants and vitamins A, C and E. It also has many fatty acid properties including omega 3, 6, 9 and most impressively, high levels of omega 7 which is very rare to find in fruits. The health benefits of seabuckthorn are many and varied; studies suggest that it may help to improve skin health, immune systems, metabolism, cholesterol, heart health, vision, iron levels and general well-being. This little berry is clearly very impressive and we can understand why Kirstie has dedicated her time to this 'superberry'!
The production process of the seabuckthorn juice can be described as a labour of love as it includes multiple time-consuming steps. First, the team carefully harvest the berries by navigating the thorny shrub, ensuring they only trim back the overgrown branches instead of removing entire plants. Then they freeze the berries within 30 minutes of harvest to retain maximum freshness and vitamins. Next, the branches are bashed to remove the berries and sieved until every last twig and leaf has been removed, this is the most arduous of the steps! They are then stored in freezers until ready to be moved to the kitchen for cold pressing and bottling. And finally, the finished product! A beautifully bright, fresh juice which is completely raw and unpasteurised. It's certainly a difficult and laborious process but one that Kirstie and her team are proud of doing!
As the team go through these steps of production, they ensure that each part of the plant is kept to be used in other products. This is because, at Seabuckthorn Scotland, they place strong emphasis on utilising each part of the plant as they believe in maximising its full potential and minimising waste. Each part of the plant has its own unique purpose and can be reused. The roots promote fertile soil, the bark is extremely dense and heavy which is great for burning as it lasts long, the leaves have antiviral properties and are believed to help with radiation and the leaf wax has anti-inflammatory properties.
On their mission to reduce waste, Kirstie has invested a lot of time and energy into developing by-products from their juice production. They have worked in collaboration with many universities and small businesses, namely, Bangor University who have developed seed and pulp oil products as well as a leaf wax from Seabuckthorn Scotland's waste materials. Thus, demonstrating their commitment to sustainable business practices and dedication to furthering research and knowledge of seabuckthorn.
After a very interesting discussion with Kirstie, it was time to taste the products! Seabuckthorn Scotland has two products; Buckshot and Buck Russian. Buckshot is made with pure seabuckthorn juice and is described as a 'wild punch of vitamins' by the team. The juice is very sour, refreshing and immediately wakes you up like an injection of energy. The Buck Russian recipe was adapted from a Russian hangover cure recipe containing pure seabuckthorn juice, organic raw sugar cane and organic ginger. It was delicious and a little sweeter than the Buckshot with a lovely hint of spice hitting you at the end. Both of the juices are raw and unpasteurised, they tasted very fresh, citrusy and we could not get enough of it! There are many ways to enjoy seabuckthorn juice whether that be straight, diluted with water or fizzy water, added to prosecco or adding to ice cubes to pop in a G&T. Kirstie was also kind enough to share her favourite recipe with us, a Seabuckthorn Posset, find the recipe here.
Through Seabuckthorn Scotland's sustainable practices and dedication to producing high-quality products, they have brought attention to the benefits of seabuckthorn. We hope this podcast episode provided valuable insight into their story and the passion behind their work. If you're interested in supporting sustainable and local businesses, be sure to check out Seabuckthorn Scotland.
And if this has tempted you into trying some delicious raw Seabuckthorn juice then you can place an order directly with Kirstie, find out how to contact her here.