KOKUM BUTTER (GARCINIA INDICA):
Although some people place the kokums origins in Africa, others believe kokum is indigenous to the Western Ghats of India. Kokum is an indigenous tree of the tropical rain forests of the Western Ghats of South India. This evergreen tree is mainly found along the west coast of the Konkan, Goa, Karnataka and North Malabar. It is also referred to as Goa butter.
Kokum oil comes from the seeds of the kokum tree (Garcinia indica). This fruit-bearing tree is also known as the wild mangosten tree, and also the red mangosten tree. The oil extracted from the seeds is edible, and it can also be used for things other than cooking.
The mature tree grows up to 15 to 18 meters in height. It is predominant in the East Indies. It takes about 7 to 10 years for it to bear an economical amount of fruit.
In India the fruits ripen in April and May. An average tree yields 60 to 80 kilograms of fruit, the fruit is berry-like. It appears dark purple when ripe and is spherical in shape and lemon-sized, with a diameter of about 2,5 – 3,0 cm. The fruit has an agreeable flavor and a sweet, acidic taste.
The fruits contain five to eight large seeds which account for 20 to 23% of the fruits weight. The kernels account for 61% of the weight of the seed, while the oil content of the kernel accounts for about 44%. The seeds are compressed and embedded in an acidic pulp. The oil content of the seeds is 23-26%. The average yield of seeds for a tree is 10 – 15 kilograms. The fruits are collected for seeds from April to May. The kernels account for 60% of the fruit by weight. The oil content of a kernel is 41 – 42%. A kernel contains protein up to 17%.
Kokum oil or kokum butter is light gray or yellowish in color. After refining, the kokum fat is equivalent to vanaspati ghee. Kokum oil contains up to 60 – 65% saturated fatty acid, making it solid at room temperature, so this oil is known as kokum butter or kokum fat. Its triglyceride composition is uniform and consists of up to 80% of stearic-oleic-stearic triglycerides. Kokum butter also contains antioxidants and vitamin E. The butter melts readily on contact with the skin.
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