In early September I made a post about my first experience with foraging havtorn (sea buckthorn) and I was determined to make it back for a second picking before the season was over. At the end of September, after a an intense couple of hours of foraging on the second go-round, I stopped in at our little neighborhood market to pick something up and lo and behold, there was a box of frozen havtorn for 32kr (about $4.50 for 225g). I promise I had looked for frozen havtorn before with no luck. And now that I know how tough it is to pick them I am definitely game to buy some frozen ones. They smell just as amazing as the fresh berries and were actually edible on their own although I won’t be making a regular snack of them any time soon.
As far as the foraging goes, the second time around wasn’t much more efficient and I guess I was actually less careful. In the end it still took about 90 minutes to collect around 4 cups of berries and when I got in the car I was surprised to find my hands looked like they had been a scratching post for kittens. At least the weather was better this time with sunshine instead of fog and I could see the Öresund bridge. The new demon was wind. After about 45 minutes of picking my big IKEA bag nearly blew out of my hands. Panic set in as I envisioned all of that effort tumbling down the rocky slope. Fortunately I was able to hold onto it.
I really wanted to give making havtorn jam another go and try to preserve the amazing color of the berries, but as I read more about them, and even tried the recipe on the back of the frozen berry box which I found too sweet and too heavy on star anise, I learned it just wasn’t practical to exclusively use havtorn juice. And once you add sugar to a jam it darkens the color anyway. So aside from the fact it isn’t bright orange, I’m happy with the results of this second recipe. It’s tangy, exotic and this time I used one whole red chili which gives it a hint of “heat.” If you are a fan of spicy you could use two chilis and/or leave in the seeds. If you are experimenting on your own, recommended combinations in Sylt och Marmelad (a great jam and marmalade making resource, but only available in Swedish) include gooseberry, lingonberry and currant.
Havtorn jam with red chili
makes about 2 cups (480ml)
I like my jam a bit on the tart side, so if you prefer more sugar, adjust accordingly. To help cut the acidity in the berries you can pick them after the first frost or alternately pop them into the freezer for an hour.
4 cups (1kg) havtorn berries
3/4 cup (180ml) apple juice concentrate
2 1/4 cups (500g) sugar
1-2 mild red chilis, minced
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1. Put a small, white plate in the freezer.
2. Place the clean havtorn berries in a non-reactive, medium-sized saucepan and add just enough water to cover the berries. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let berries simmer until they release their seeds and break down to a liquid. Strain the havtorn liquid through a saftsil or cheesecloth. You should have about 2 cups of havtorn juice. Discard the seeds and pulp.
3. Place the strained havtorn liquid in a medium-sized saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and let cook undisturbed for five minutes.
3. Remove from heat and skim off any scum. Put a small amount of jam on the frozen plate. Return the plate to the freezer for a few minutes and then do the nudge test to see if it is ready. If the jam wrinkles and follows your finger when you nudge it, it’s ready to jar. If it isn’t set, put it back on the heat and keep re-testing until done.
4. Ladle the hot jam into clean jars (make sure they aren’t cold or they will break), put on the lid, and turn them upside down immediately to help seal them. Cool the jars to room temperature and store in the refrigerator for several months. You could also store them in the freezer if you leave some space for expansion in the jar, about 3/8 inch (1 cm). If you are interested in trying traditional canning which won’t require your jam to be refrigerated, you can check out www.freshpreserving.com for tips.