A Guide To Shea Butter
LEARN HOW YOUR FAVOURITE BUTTER IS CREATED
How Shea Butter Is Made
Shea butter is the product of shea nuts which are harvested from the Shea tree, indigenous to 21 countries in Africa. According to historians, Shea butter (SB) processing goes as far back as A.D. 100! For almost 2000 years, Africans have enjoyed the many benefits of shea butter which is rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, E and F and also has mild sun blocking properties. It’s a very versatile and can be used for many things. Here are some of the things shea butter is used for today.
One of the questions we get asked a lot is how shea butter is made. We’ve explained the process for you before so you are fully aware what it takes to get shea from nut to butter.
- The shea is a seasonal crop so its peak harvest season is between April and August. When the fruit of the tree ripens, it falls to the ground where it can be collected. The fruit is plum sized with an edible green soft creamy pulp with the nut inside.
- The collected nuts are then de-pulped and washed.
- Next, the washed nuts are boiled for about 30-40 minutes which serves to sanitise them preventing mould and other contaminants from entering the production cycle.
- The boiled nuts are drained and dried out to reduce the moisture content to about 5-15%. At this moisture level the nut makes a distinctive rattling noise within the kernel when shaken. In fact, an experienced ear will be able to gauge when the moisture content is optimal based on the rattling sound produced.
- These are left to dry for about four days before they are De-husk. During the drying process, any bad nuts are carefully discarded from the batch leaving only the best nuts for the next stages.
- Once the remaining high quality nuts are thoroughly dried they are packed in juts bags for storage. Appropriately stored in a dry airy environment, shea nuts can last for at least two years!
Now that the nuts have been harvested, washed, dried and stored, we are now able to move on to the exciting extraction phase.
- The shea nuts are rigorously washed in warm water, then rinsed with cold water and laid out to dry under the sun for few hours.
- The dried nuts are then crushed, roasted and laid back out in the sun again for a few hours before being grounded into a thick paste. The paste is divided into manageable portions and mixed with appropriate amounts of water. At this stage the paste is mixed (often by hand!) until the butter separates from the nut paste and a whiteish bloom appears at the top which is then scooped into a pot and brought to boil.
- The boiling continues until the heavy impurities settle to the bottom and the pure shea butter rises to the top. The pure shea butter is then scooped out, filtered into containers and the pure shea is left to cool down.
- Once cooled down, the butter is beaten to trace before being poured into moulds to set.
USES OF SHEA BUTTER
Shea butter is packed with goodness that our skin and hair begs for everyday. The average person will apply hundreds of chemicals on their skin and hair every day in the form of cosmetics. Many of these chemicals are synthetic and could actually worsen the health of your skin or hair over time. Shea butter is nature’s gift to human skin and hair. It’s perfect for all skin & hair types and Grade A shea butter can actually improve the condition of skin & hair. But there are more uses to shea butter than just for skin & hair.
Grade A Shea butter as the name suggests is edible and is an excellent alternative to oils and butters that are used in making the foods that we all love. All the properties that nourish the skin will also nourish the body and when compared to some other oils, it’s far healthier. For example, shea butter has almost half the amount of saturated fat than coconut oil! You could be a home cook, a restaurant or bakery, shea butter is an excellent alternative for your cooking & baking needs.
Shea butter is sometimes used as alternative to cooking oil. When shea butter is used, it gives stir fry dishes more flav and richer taste. An all natural and vegan addition for that extra buttery kick.
Who doesn’t love chocolate? If you don’t then we thank you because that means more for the rest of us! Did you know that shea butter is currently used by most major confectionary companies in their chocolate? It’s unique properties make it a perfect alternative to cocoa butter which is the main fat ingredient contained in chocolate. Next time you bite into your bar of chocolate, have a look at the ingredients list and check if shea butter is one of them.