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Shea nut processing

Shea nut processing

During my stay in Tamale, I had the chance to participate for 2 days in a shea nuts processing workshop, which had been organized by PlaNet Finance for several woman groups from the Northern region, which were the target group of the shea value chain project. The aim of the workshop was to train the women, who were already familiar with shea nut processing and shea butter production, in how to increase the quality of their shea products. These were two interesting days, and I would like to share my new knowledge about shea nuts with you.

10 Steps of Processing Premium Quality Shea Butter

  1. Kernel washing
    Wash the dried nuts quickly, so that they do not absorb too much water. Then dry the washed and cleaned nuts in the sun.

    Kernel washing

  2. Kernel sorting
    Separate the black and bad nuts from the good ones.

    Kernel sorting Black nuts

  3. Kernel crushing
    Crush the nuts to small and uniform size particles for easy roasting.

    In the mill Crushed kernels

  4. Roasting of crushed shea kernels
    Roast the crushed nuts for 45 to 75 minutes.

    Kernel roasting

  5. Milling the roasted kernels
    Cool down your roasted Shea kernels and then mill them in a milling machine into a fine paste.

    Second (fine) milling Fine milled kernels

  6. Kneading
    Knead the paste. Add small amounts of cold water from time to time to get a smoother texture. The final kneading should be vigorous to fully aerate the fat. The kneading is slowed down completely, as the mixture becomes soft, light and fluffy. Pour large amount of cold water into the mixture and stir it continuously to cause a gray, oily scum to rise. Collect the fat from the surface of the water into another bowl.

    Kneading Separating the fat

  7. First stage boiling
    Boil your fat immediately after kneading to complete the separation of the fat from the cake.

    Boiling Oil from first stage boiling Cake

  8. Second stage boiling
    Transfer your oil into a new pot and boil to dehydrate on a gentle fire.

    Second stage boiling

  9. Filtration and solidification
    Filter the warm liquid fat through a microfilm into a plastic bowl. Use a wooden ladle to stir your shea butter into a smooth and uniform texture when it begins to show signs of solidification.


  10. Packaging and storage
    Ensure that your packaging is air tight as well as water proof. Keep your shea butter away from direct sunlight.

Interested in more information about this project? Then continue with
part 1: Experiences from voluntary work in Ghana – Kickoff
part 2: Experiences from voluntary work in Ghana – on-site
part 4: Experiences from voluntary work in Ghana – Resume

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  • Claudia,

    Thank you for sharing your photos and your learning about Shea nut processing with us. I definitely have a new appreciation for arduous labor required to produce the lotions with this ingredient. I will think of these women working so hard to support their families the next time I make a purchase.