Friday, August 04, 2006

Encyclopedia Jane: Shea Butter... What is it?

This week's installment of Encyclopedia Jane is inspired by the five or six shea butter salesmen who set up shop each afternoon along Court Street in downtown Brooklyn. I've been wondering for a while what it actually is, so this week I set out on an internet search to find out. Keep in mind that since the research is entirely 'net-based I make no claims as to its validity.

And, if you've got a question you're dying to know the answer to but don't have time to find out for yourself, write it in the comments section of this post and I'll see what I can find out.

So. Shea butter...

Shea butter actually comes from the shea nut. The shea tree grows in central and western Africa. In late March small white delicately-scented flowers bloom along its branches, eventually giving way to the shea fruit. The fruit has a sweet-sour taste and is relished by local birds and insects. People collect the fallen fruit to use in their own cooking and as a feed for lifestock. Shea fruit has a pit, much like that of the avocado. The outer shell from the nut is removed and used as fertilizer. The inner kernel is crushed and boiled to produce a fat called shea butter. Shea butter is edible and used in traditional cuisine and, in the chocolate industry, as a substitute for cocoa butter. It’s also used as a potent moisturizer. Below is a recipe for making your own shea butter moisturizer, is taken directly from Agbangakarite. Just make sure you buy raw shea butter since hexane, a neurotoxin, is used in the refining process.

Shea Butter Moisturizer

70-80% shea butter
20-30% virgin coconut oil
1% essential oil / fragrance

If you are using liquid oil, try 80:20. If you are using a semi solid oil, try less shea butter. To make a whipped butter, melt the semi solid oil, and warm the shea butter (do not melt, just soften). Mix the two oils together and whip with a mixer or by hand vigorously. The more you whip, the lighter and creamier the butter will be. Add the fragrance and spoon and/or squeeze with a pastry bag into your jars.


Blogger Carmen said...

i didn't know any of that about shea butter. Now I'm educated!

2:03 PM  
Blogger Minerva Jane said...

Come back for the friday feature!

2:51 PM  
Blogger raknak said...

My question: why do humans have pubic hair?

5:58 PM  
Blogger Minerva Jane said...

So we have a question for next week. Yay! Not just pubic hair--we'll tackle thw whole concept of body hair and why humans haven't evolved to bald bodies... Tune in next week.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

What a great activity for a post I love it.

I thought shea butter was from some kind of sheep or llama. Boy was off base.


4:48 PM  

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