Ghana’s shea butter is the liking of every traditional woman because of its enormous benefits to life. Shea butter is one of the most important local products in Ghana and also in few other African countries.
Unrefined bulk shea butter is yellow or ivory coloured natural oil. Aside serving the outrageous purposes to the people of Ghana, it also serves as foreign exchange for Ghana. Currently, the largest exporter of unrefined pure raw shea butter of West Africa is Ghana.
The shea butter comes from the nuts of the shea trees. These shea trees are normally grown in the northern and savannah regions of Ghana as the savannah regions of West Africa.
The shea fruits are normally harvested from May to August. A lot of women are specifically involved in the harvesting process. The fruits’ skin is removed and nuts have to be well dried after collecting the fruits.
The fruits are been taken to the manufacturing process as the next step. One shea tree can produce 40 kilos of fresh fruits, and it depends on a tree size and weather conditions.
HOW TO MAKE AND ITS BENEFITS
The process of shea butter production is very involving and a little stressful.
At this stage, mostly Ghanaian women use traditional methods; where they use their hands in almost all the entire production process. Women in the shea butter production, usually work together and help each other which makes the work easier, more interacting and relaxed.
They do this by gathering under a big tree outside compounds and work from dawn to dusk. When the shea nuts are dried, the women remove the shells.
To remove the shells, they have to crack them with stones or other hard materials. The shea nuts are then washed again and dried under the sun.
The nuts are broken into small pieces afterwards. Women used to grind nuts with their hands using mortar and pestle in the past.
Of late, they mostly take them to the grinding machine which really facilities and speed up the process. After crushing the fresh nuts, they are roasted on fire.
That’s why the final product depicts a pleasant roasting scent. The roasted fragments are then taken to the grinding machine again, where the thick paste is obtained with a special process.
The women then put the paste in big basins, sit in shadow and churn the paste with one hand. Water is then added gradually. The heavy paste is then churned for at least one hour until butter oil separates from the water.
Afterwards, butter oil is carefully removed and put into a bowl of boiling water under low fire. The women gently scoop off oil that floats to the top of the bowl.
Liquid is then passed through a sieve in other to take all the unwanted impurities and put into a cool and dark place for at least one day; hence the oil becomes thicker and ready to use.
THE USE OF SHEA BUTTER
- Shea butter is used as cooking oil and for skin care as ancient practice of Africans
- Also, in Western world, shea butter is commonly used as organic ingredient in cosmetics. Normally it is used as lotion or moisturizer for any skin types.
- Shea butter is also used for healing wounds and burns
- It is used for preventing stretch-marks and maintaining child’s sensitive skin
- When applied on the skin, serves as UV protector which is very harmful to the body. That is, preventing tanning
- Shea butter is a source of vitamin A, D, E and F when eaten or applied to the skin.