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Cacao beans

Cacao butter

Butter extraction

Cacao/cocoa butter is the fat extracted by mechanical pressing, filtered or centrifuged from cocoa beans or cocoa mass.

Extraction from cocoa mass:

The starting product, cocoa beans, are roasted and possibly previously shelled. They are then ground into cocoa mass by heated rollers. The resulting mass is initially viscous when warm, but solidifies as it cools and serves as a starting material for the production of chocolate, cocoa powder or cocoa butter, for example. To produce the latter, this mass is now placed in a screw press, in which the fat it contains is separated from the other components. This produces both press residue (cocoa press cake), which can be further processed into cocoa powder, and the desired cocoa butter. Depending on the intended use, this is then filtered or refined.

Extraction from cacao/cocoa beans:

The whole or broken cocoa beans are gently preheated to the pressing temperature and added to a mechanical press, resulting in high-quality cold-pressed cocoa butter and cocoa press cake.

The following diagram shows the entire process from the raw bean to the finished cocoa butter and cocoa powder:

You can download the process overviews here:

Core process – cocoa processing

Whole process – cocoa processing


Characteristics and shelf life

Cocoa butter is a pale yellow to light yellow color.

The aroma is faint yet pleasantly reminiscent of cocoa.

Taste-wise, it is pleasingly mild and has a strong cocoa flavor.

Its melting point lies between 30 – 38°C; its saponification number, between 192 and 197.

Cocoa butter is composed  largely of triglycerides of various fatty acids, including around 22-30% palmitic acid, approx. 32.37% stearic acid, about 30-37% fatty acid and up to 4% linoleic acid. In addition, there are small amounts of sterols and methylsterols (β-sitosterin, stigmasterin, campesterin) and traces of cholesterol.

Due to its high unsaturated fatty acid content, cocoa butter has a limited shelf life. Under certain storage conditions (cool and protected from light, etc.), however, it can keep for up to 2 years.

Use

In the pharmaceutical and medical industries

Cocoa butter is used in various areas within medicine and pharmacy. It is applied in the manufacture of lozenges, and also of highly adhesive plasters (band-aids). However, owing to several disadvantageous qualities such as inconsistent melting behavior, a lack of volume concentration when cooling, brief shelf life, and a poor water absorbency, it is seldom used in the production of bacilli, vaginal gels, and suppositories, and occasionally also as an ingredient in ointment bases.

Cosmetic use

In the cosmetic realm, cocoa butter can be found in lip balms and body care products, since it melts at body temperature and leaves skin feeling smooth. According to the Lexikon der pflanzlichen Fette und Öle (lexicon of plant fats and oils), this is why it is especially well-suited for dry and chapped skin, and so also serves as an ingredient in bath additives, lotions and body care creams, lip care products, and in many balms. In anti-wrinkle creams, too, it can also be found, since it softens wrinkles, especially around the eyes and mouth. A further advantage of cocoa butter is that it can be rubbed onto stretch marks to prevent or reduce them. Cocoa butter is important for soaps as well. Here it forms a good, hard, and mild soap when combined with alkalis, yet it can also be used in to create super-rich soap or as a basis oil in luxurious soaps.

In perfumery

Here it is sometimes used in the enfleurage process as a fatty layer which then absorbs the fragrances from the blossoms. These fragrances in turn are drawn out using alcohol and used in perfume manufacture.

In the food industry

In the food industry, cocoa butter is used in the manufacture of nougat and white chocolate, or is added to milk chocolate and melting chocolate. Furthermore, it is processed with cocoa mass into couverture, which serves as a coating for baked goods or pralines.

As repellent

Testing has shown that cocoa butter is highly effective as a repellent against insect bites.

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In addition to their own knowledge acquired through press trials, the following sources were used to create the article:

  • Öle, natürlich kaltgepresst, Basiswissen & Rezepte, Marcus Hartmann, Hädecke, 2008
  • Heilende Öle, Pflanzenöle als Nahrungs- und Heilmittel, Neue Erkenntnisse, Günter Albert Ulmer Verlag Tuningen
  • Lexikon der pflanzlichen Fette und Öle, Krist, Buchbauer, Klausberger, SpringerWienNewYork, 2008
  • www.wikipedia.de
  • en.wikipedia.org