Making Shea Butter in Ghana Traditionally Part 1 of 4

Live Soap School in ghana
Women of Community holding Shea Butter.
Women with Handcrafted Shea Butter

Hey hey everyone, we are still in Ghana and I wanted to give you an update on how we are doing in Shea Butter School. For some of you who may not know, I traveled over 5,000 miles with my mother and cousin to join Baraka Shea Butter and learn how Shea Butter is made in Ghana. With Shea Butter being one of the primary ingredients used in Soap Making and cosmetics, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see how handmade Shea Butter is crafted. From the tree to the seed to the butter. Thanks to our wonderful friends at Baraka Shea Butter, and their innovative Shea Butter School this dream became a reality. I discovered it is so much more than Shea Butter!

In this first part of the 4 part series we will look at some of the first steps in the Shea Butter process.

Shea Butter Tree

There are vast fields and bushes of Shea Trees in Ghana. These trees bear fruit during harvest season and this is when the work begins! Women and children visit the fields, kids create their own version of a see-saw by climbing into the trees and shaking them so the fruit falls and are picked. I learned that the Shea fruit is edible…For some reason I wasn’t putting it together that Shea was a fruit. In this impromptu video I was captured under the shade of the Shea Tree.

Washing and Drying Shea Nuts

The shea nuts are then washed and spread under the Ghana Sun to dry. This ensures that they are clean and completely dry of any moisture before proceeding to the next step in the Shea Butter Making Process.

Washing Shea Nuts
Carrying Shea Nuts, Washing and Spreading to Dry

Crushing Shea Nuts

Traditionally Shea nuts would be manually crushed with a large mortar and pestel. Grinding mills are then used at different settings to crush Shea nuts for different purposes in the Shea Butter Making process. The first setting is at a coarse setting. This crushes the Shea Nuts which are then transferred to the Roasters to be carefully roasted by women in the community. We will discuss roasting next as it is truly remarkable to see how hard the women work throughout the process to create Shea Butter using traditional methods that have been passed down for several generations.

Shea Nuts Crushing

How Shea Nuts are Roasted

The next step in the process is to roast the Shea Nuts. The women sit on a stool beside a manual roaster and turn for five minute intervals. One key aspect of roasting is getting an even roast. This is only possible by changing the direction of the rotation on a consistent basis, otherwise the Shea Nuts would burn. Watch the video below as I try my hand at roasting the Shea Nuts. Then watch as two kids show me how it’s really done!

Kids Get into the Fun and Roast Shea Nuts

They didn’t do it for long, but these kids showed me that I needed to step my game up if I wanted to REALLY roast Shea Nuts. Once the nuts are completely roasted it was time for us to move on to cooling. During this process, two people work together to carefully remove the roaster and shake out its contents. In the picture below the wise elder directed my mother and I on how to do it properly.

Working together to make shea butter in Ghana using traditional methods

In part two of this series we will take a look at the final steps to make Shea Butter using traditional methods. But many of you have followed along on Social Media and wondered about Baraka Shea Butter and how you can also attend Baraka Shea Butter School in Ghana.

About Baraka Shea Butter

Baraka Shea Butter is a small Canadian/Ghanaian family owned business located on Vancouver Island in Canada and founded by husband and wife team, Wayne Dunn and Gifty Serbeh-Dunn. I like to call them a small but mighty team. Their Shea Butter is made by the women in Ghana, with a clear mission …”To bring pure, unrefined shea butter to North America and the world in a way that connects and benefits the value-chain; from the hard-working women who make it, to the crafters and businesses that produce amazing products with it, all the way to the customers who use those products”.

Shea Butter School is a truly immersive experience where you can travel to Ghana and make your own shea butter from scratch. If you are interested in attending get on the list here.

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