Making it by hand allows the entire process to be watched carefully and provides the best quality Shea butter.
The process of making Shea butter begins by
1picking the ripe fruit of the African Shea tree. Once it is gathered, the outer part of the fruit is scraped away.
2Then the nut or seed is left to dry in the sun. When dry, the women of the community gather together. They use small rocks to crack open the Shea nut to remove the outer shell.
3Next, the Shea nut must be crushed. The fruit of the nut is hard; it takes heavy stone mortars and pestles to crush the Shea nut fruit.
4The crushed nut fruit is then placed in large pots over open fires. The women constantly stir the mixture to keep it from burning. It is hot and laborious work.
The butter gets heavier and harder to stir as it thickens and the smoke from the flames gives the butter its slight smoky fragrance.
5After the Shea nut fruit has finished roasting, the mixture is placed back into the pestles and grounded into a smooth consistency paste. The paste is mixed by hand with small amounts of water. This separates out the butter oils from the fruit. As the oil curds rise, they are scooped out.
Then, they are squeezed to remove any excess water.
6Next, the fresh curds are placed in large pots and melted slowly over fires. The melted curds are slowly boiled to remove any leftover water.
The creamy yellow butter is ladled from the pots and left to harden. Once cooled, the butter is ready to be placed into containers and be used.
The purest form of Shea butter is made using these steps.