Vegetable Butter Crystallization/Graininess: How to Eliminate
Crystallization or graininess occurs when a vegetable butter melts, either intentionally or accidentally during warm conditions, and then cools back down too slowly.
During transit, vegetable butters can melt or partially melt. As they re-cool, some butters, most particularly Shea Butter, can crystallize or become grainy. This does not impact the quality or usability of the butters.
To eliminate crystallization and restore the butter to a smooth, consistent texture, a process known as tempering is performed:
Carefully heat your butter to the point where it fully melts. We recommend using a double boiler, and we discourage use of a microwave. We recommend heating vegetable butters, particularly Shea Butter and Mango Butter to 175°F (80°C) and allowing it to remain heated at this temperature for 20 minutes.
Just like with culinary baking/cooking, you may need to experiment to find out what works best with your equipment.
Immediately pour the butter into your desired container(s) and then place in the refrigerator (recommended) to allow it to rapidly cool down. If you can, have the jars that you plan to use sitting on a cooking sheet, and use the cookie sheet to simultaneously transfer all the jars into the the refrigerator quickly. Once your butters have cooled to room temperature, they can be removed from the refrigerator.
For additional information and tips about tempering vegetable butters, please read our helpful Natural Beauty Workshop blog post authored by Mary Helen Leonard: Troubleshooting Grainy Balms and Butters.
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