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Sea buckthorn is one of the vitamin bombs among the local berries and presents itself every year with golden yellow fruits that are enjoyed by people and birds alike. Thanks to numerous ingredients and a lot of vitamin C, they are extremely popular, but harvesting the fruits is extremely tedious and often leads to frustration because they are so soft. The point in time within the harvest season and the harvesting method are important for harvesting.

Best harvest time

Before you can start harvesting, you first need to know when sea buckthorn berries are ripe and suitable for consumption. Hippophae rhamnoides is an olive tree whose original home is in Nepal and is still mainly found in Germany in the Alps and foothills of the Alps. The harvest time, which typically begins in September and lasts until the end of October, is particularly important. However, this can be influenced by several points.

  • Variety: Varieties such as 'Hergo' and 'Sirola' ripen early and present their berries as early as mid-August
  • Location: the more optimal the location, the earlier the harvest season begins
Sea buckthorn berries on the bush

It is possible to let sea buckthorn ripen well into January, but this depends on the health of the plant and the weather conditions. Possible consequences of ripening for too long are a rancid taste and the fermenting of the fruit, which also makes them inedible. Use the following points as a guide to determine the right time to harvest so that the sea buckthorn berries are definitely ripe.

  • try one of the berries
  • if the taste is bland or sour, it is not yet ripe enough
  • the taste should be tart and fruity
  • the color should be golden yellow or orange
  • the surface should be glassy
  • they become noticeably softer
  • when crushed, they give off an intoxicating aroma, characteristic of sea buckthorn

Using these points, you can easily determine the right time to harvest, although you should be careful not to injure yourself on the thorns when tasting.

Tip: Do not take too much time with the time of harvest, because at the beginning of the harvest, birds of all kinds become aware of the sea buckthorn berries. These then attack the bushes in large flocks and are happy about the vitamin-rich food they have found.

golden yellow-orange sea buckthorn berries

To harvest

Harvesting sea buckthorn is often a bit difficult. This is mainly due to the defense mechanism of the plant and the nature of the berries. Short shoots are formed on the branches, which resemble thorns in shape and can easily penetrate the skin. The berries, on the other hand, become very soft as they ripen and inexperienced hands crush them quickly because they are not easy to pick. They are quite tight on the branches and require some force, which often leads to crushing.

The following utensils are basic equipment for harvesting:

  • working gloves
  • long-sleeved clothing

These make picking the berries easier and help you avoid injury. The thorns may not look that bad, but the nature of the thorns hurts because they can penetrate deep into the flesh. A simple picking of the berries as with raspberries or gooseberries is not possible. However, there are some methods that are suitable for harvesting and are quite simple, but may require some practice.

Wear gloves for protection

Harvest Methods

berry comb

The berry ridge is nothing new to owners of a blueberry bush. This device is a shovel, which usually has a handy handle and metal tines. Due to their spacing, these are ideally suited for harvesting the berries when they are ripe.

With the berry comb, do the following:

  • spread a large cloth under the sea buckthorn
  • alternatively, you can use a large jar that fits under many of the branches
  • now pick up the berry comb
  • gently bend one of the branches straight down
  • now guide the berry comb along the branch
  • the berries are now gently detached and fall into the container or onto the cloth
  • continue until all berries have been harvested

The cost of a berry comb is between 10 and 20 euros, depending on the model and design.

knock off

Beating off is a classic method from the Mediterranean region, which is mainly used for olives. This method should only be used when there has already been a frost, so that the berries are slightly frozen and not damaged as a result. Don't worry, the frost won't harm sea buckthorn. For this you choose a large stick, for example a broomstick, and then proceed as follows.

  • again prepare a container under the branches
  • now start hitting the fruit shoots with the stick
  • do this until all the berries have dissolved
harvest ripe sea buckthorn berries


Stripping is a classic method used on the Baltic Sea and associated islands. It is applied either very early during or very late during the harvest season. The reason for this is the leaves that fall off in autumn and could otherwise end up in the berries. To do this, simply choose a thick pair of rubber gloves and grab the branch where it begins. Now wipe it off carefully but with sufficient force, preferably in a bucket.

Cut and freeze

This is a fairly new method in which the berries are frozen and then shaken off afterwards. To do this, simply cut off whole fruit shoots and place them in the freezer for a while until they are completely frozen. After the sea buckthorn berries are frozen, simply shake them over a container with plenty of force. They then separate and no berries are crushed or damaged.

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