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How is Shea Butter Made?

Shea Butter is a fatty extract from the shea nuts which is found in the shea fruit produced by the shea tree. It’s naturally rich in Vitamin A, E, D, F and Cinnamic acid. Shea Butter is known as the women’s gold in West Africa, because processing shea butter provides economic opportunities for women and girls, while helping to protect the environment.

Shea tree produces its first fruit when it’s about 20 years, and reaches its full production at about 45 years old. The tree can produce fruit for up to 200 years before reaching maturity.

Shea fruit has a very sweet taste, hence eatable. After eating the fruit, a shea nut in a shell is obtained.

Shea trees grow naturally in the dry Savannah region of West Africa, and the area of Northern Uganda, and Southern Sudan. Using centuries old extraction techniques to produce a truly exceptional shea butter. The steps below give a brief outline of the process.

1. After the shea fruits are collected, they are steamed to cause the kernel inside to shrink away from the shell. This is done so the kernels are not damaged when the shells are removed.
2. Once the shells are cracked by hand and the kernels are extracted, the shea kernels are washed and placed in the sun to remove moisture and dry for a prolonged period.
3. The dried kernels are then crushed in a large, wooden mortar.
4. The crushed shea kernels are roasted and transformed into a paste with a dark chocolate color.
5. The shea paste mixture is whipped until the color changes. The kneading process takes anywhere from one to three hours.
6. The Shea Paste is purified by washing it over and over with distilled water.
7. The seventh step is to heat the purify paste over fire, so the fats rise to the top, and the oil settles at the bottom.
8. The shea fats are collected and heated to remove any remaining moisture. The clear oil is filtered into basins to cool. The time from selecting the nuts until this step takes from 10 to 14 hours.
9. After the shea oil has cooled down, it is stirred very carefully to initialize the crystallization process and form the shea butter. This part of the process is very critical and requires lot of experience.
10. The final step is to pour the partially crystallized butter into containers, where it continues to crystallize.

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  • Danielle Lasit