J. Sci. Fd Agric.

1977, 28, 384-386

Fatty Acid Composition and Characteristics of Pentadesma butyracea Fat Extracted from Ghana Seeds
Daniel Adomako
Cocoa Research Institute, P.O. Box 8, Tafo, Ghana

(Manuscript received 13 October 1976)

Recent interest in the development of the tallow tree (Pentadesma butyracea S ) as an oil-tree crop has stimulated agronomic and chemical studies of the tree and the fat obtained from its seeds. Tallow fat extracted from local seeds has been analysed for its chemical and physical constants and fatty acid composition. These characteristics have been compared with those of the better known cocoa butter and shea butter. Dry tallow kernels, shea butter kernels and cocoa beans contained 50, 52.1 and 53.4% fat, respectively. Tallow fat and shea butter are similar in several of their characteristics, particularly slip point, saponification number, solidification point and fatty acid composition; but tallow fat has a much lower unsaponifiable matter content (1.5-1.8 %) than shea butter (7.3-9.0 %). Both are markedly different from cocoa butter and cocoa butter replacement fats in respect of their melting points and fatty acid composition. Cooling curves of 3: 1, 1 :1, and 1:3 mixtures of tallow fat and cocoa butter indicate poor compatibility between the two fats. 1. Introduction The seed or kernels of the tallow tree (Pentadesma butyracea S ) is well known in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana and some parts of West Africa as the source of an excellent edible fat.The tree, its fruit, and local methods of extracting the fat have been described in detail by Dalziell and Irvine.2 The plant grows up to 30 m high and is easily cultivated from the seed. It grows vigorously and, under natural conditions, reaches maturity in 7-8 years.3, However, like the relatively more abundant and better known shea butter obtained from the Northern (Savannah) region of West Africa, fallen seeds of trees growing in the wild state are the source of tallow fat. Tallow kernels have been exported in the past to Europe, where the fat was used for edible purposes, including its use as cocoa butter substitute.5 The export trade was short-lived, however, due to the limited availability of seed. In recent years, in Ghana, the development of local oil-tree crops has received considerable impetus and research into the cultivation of P. butyracea and the shea butter tree (Butyrospermutn parkii K) on plantation basis has been initiated at Tafo and elsewhere. Although data on the physical and chemical characteristics of tallow fat have been reported5 its fatty acid composition has not been determined. Besides, Williams5 found considerable differences in the analytical constants of fats extracted from tallow kernels from different areas. The purpose of the work reported here was to determine the quality and fatty acid composition of fat extracted from tallow kernels produced in Ghana. As tallow fat and shea butter have both been used as cocoa butter substitutes, it was also the aim of this study to compare the two fats and determine their compatibility with cocoa butter.
2. Experimental 2.1. Materials Tallow kernels were obtained from the Techiman-Nkoranza area in the Brong Ahafo Region and shea nuts from Bole in the Northern Region of Ghana. The seeds were sun-dried to a moisture

Fatty acids of Pentadesma butyracea beans


content of 7-8 %. Fermented cocoa beans, dried to 7% moisture content, were obtained from the Institute's fermentary. 2.2. Extraction and analysis of fats The stony-hard tallow kernels (chopped to approximately 2 g pieces), and shelled cocoa beans and sheanuts were milled in a laboratory grinding mill without prior roasting. They were further ground to a paste in a glass mortar and weighed amounts soxhlet-extracted with petroleum ether (b.p. 40-60°C) for 4 h. The residues were ground to a fine powder and extracted for 4 h with fresh solvent. Petroleum ether was removed in a rotary evaporator at 30°C and the fats dried to constant weight at 100°C. The fats received no further heat treatment prior to analysis. The methods for the determination of iodine number (Wig's method), acid number, percentage free fatty acids (as oleic), saponification number, moisture, and ash were those recommended by the AOAC.6 Percentage unsaponifiable matter was determined by the Bolton and Williams' method.5 Soiidification point was determined by Jensen's m e t h ~ dG.1.c. analyses of methyl esters of the fatty acids were carried out under the .~ following conditions:7 column, 15% diethylene glycol succinate at 175°C; injection temperatyre, 220°C; detector, FID; carrier gas, nitrogen (1 1.6 ml/min).
3. Results and discussion

Fat extracted from the vinous red, ground tallow kernels had a sparkling yellow colour but was slowly bleached during storage to a white granular fat. Its physical and chemical characteristics are summarised in Table 1, together with data obtained for shea butter and cocoa butter. The data for tallow fat are in general agreement with those of W i l l i a m ~ but significant differences occur. For ;~ example, Williams5 recorded fat contents ranging from 35 to 54 % (average 40.7 %) and unsaponifiable matter content of 0.1-1.1 % as compared to the range of 46-53.1 % (fat) and 1.5-1.8% (msaponifiable matter) obtained in the present work for ten and four different batches, respectively, of seeds analysed. The values obtained for shea butter and cocoa butter agree with those reported in the literature.5.8 Tallow fat, shea butter and cocoa butter have identical solidification (or setting) points, but cocoa butter has lower melting point, iodine number, percentage free fatty acids, acid number as well as unsaponifiable matter content. Tallow fat resembles shea butter in several of the characteristics but its relatively low unsaponifiable matter content and higher saponification number make it superior to shea butter, particularly for edible and cosmetic purposes.
Table 1. Physical and chemical characteristics of tallow (Penrudesma bufyruceu) fat, shea butter and cocoa butter Characteristics Fat content of seeds& Ash content Melting point (complete fusion) ("C) Slip point ("C) Iodine number Acid number Free fatty acids (oleic) (%) Saponification number" Unsaponifiable matter (%) Solidification point ("C) Tallow fat 50.0 2.1 39 .O-39.5 37.5-38.2 47.3 8.3 4.2 188.0-194.0 1.5-1.8 27 .&28.6 Shea butter 52.1 3.2 38 .O-39.5 36.7-37.4 64.2 13.4 6.8 179.6-190.0 7.3-9.0 26.5-30. Ob Cocoa butter

53.4 2.8 34.34 33.3-33.5 36.1 1.8 0.9 190.6-195.0 0.1-0.3 28 .O-28.6

a Fat contents are average values for ten different batches of tallow seeds ranging from 4 6 . 2 to 53.1 % and for four different batches each of shea butter and cocoa beans ranging from 51 . 7 to 5 2 . 2 % and from 52.8 to 5 5 . 0 % respectively. All other values (except where the range is given) are average values of five different determinations differing not more than 5 %. Williams (ref. 5).




The major fatty acids of the fats, as determined by g.1.c. analysis, are shown in Table 2. The results for shea butter and cocoa butter are similar to published data.5,9Stearic and oleic acids alone constitute about 96 and 87%, respectively, of the total fatty acids in tallow fat and shea butter. The two fats are similar in their fatty acid composition and degree of unsaturation but are markedly different from cocoa butter and its replacement fats (e.g. Borneo or illipe butter and beef tallow acetone fraction 4) where palmitic acid forms 20-30% of the total fatty acids.sZl0
Table 2 Fatty acid composition of tallow (Pentadesrna butyracea) fat, shea butter and cocoa butter .

Component fatty acids (% of tota1)n Fats Tallow fat Shea butter Cocoa butter
a b

Myristic Nil Nil 0.2

3.1 4.8 26.8

0.2 Nil 0.3

45.5 45.9 36.1

50.5 40.8 31.9

Linoleic 0.4 6.9 3.2

Linolenic Nil 1.6 1.2

Degree of unsaturationb
0.51 0.59 0.42

Values are averages of two different determinations differing not more than 5 %. Calculated after W e 1 ~ h . l ~

Although the triglyceride composition of tallow fat has not been determined, the similarity between tallow fat and shea butter in respect of their fatty acid composition suggests that they have a similar triglyceride composition. Shea butter consists of 10 % palmitodistearin, 35 % oleodistearin and 45 % stearodiolein.ll The very low palmitic acid content of tallow fat strongly suggests that oleodistearin and stearodiolein constitute not less than 90 % of the triglycerides. This is markedly different from the situation in cocoa butter and cocoa butter replacement fats where disaturated triglycerides (oleodistearin and oleopalmitostearin) constitute 83-90 % of triglycerides.8.10 Although tallow fat and cocoa butter have identical solidification points (Table l), it was found in a comparison of their cooling curves that the temperature of tallow fat dropped rapidly soon after the solidification point had been reached. Mixtures of cocoa butter and tallow fat in the ratios of 3 :1 and 1 :1 behaved similarly, but the 1:3 mixture had the same cooling rate as the pure cocoa butter. All three mixtures showed slight eutectic effectsS and a reduced setting point. The results suggest poor compatibility between cocoa butter and tallow fat. However, as in the case of shea butter,5 hydrogenated talIow fat and the stearine fraction of the fat may show improved compatibility with cocoa butter. Acknowledgements I am grateful to Mr P. H. Wigall of the R and D Department, Cadbury-Schweppes Ltd, Birmingham, England, for the g.1.c. analysis, to Mr P. K. Awuah of Cocoa Products Factory (GCMB), Takoradi, for help with the solidification point determination and to Mr P. C. Aculey for technical assistance, This paper is published with the permission of the Director of Cocoa Research Institute, Tafo. References
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.


10. 11. 12.

Dalziel, J. M. The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa 1955, 3rd edn, London, Crown Agents, Irvine, F. R. Woody Plants of Ghana 1961, London, Oxford University Press. Manu-Boafo, E. Rep. Cocoa Res. Inst. ,Ghana, 1973-74 1976, p. 8. Holloway, H. L. 0. Personal communication, 1976. Williams, K. A. Oils, Fats and Fatty, Foods. Their Practical Examination 1950, 3rd edn, London, J. and A. Churchill. Association of Official Agricultural Chemists. Oficiul Agricultural Chemists 1964, Washington, DC, Association of Official Agricultural Chemists. Wigall, P. H. Personal communication, 1973. Minifie, B. W. Chocolate, Cocoa and Confectionery: Science and Technology 1970, London, J. and A. Churchill. Asamoa, H., Wurziger, J. Gordian 1974, 74 (9), 280. Luddy, F. E., Hampson. J. W., Herb, S. F., Rothbart, H. L.J. Am. O l Chem. Soc. 1973,50,240. i Atta, J. K. B. A. Personal communication, 1974. Welch, R. W. J. Sci. Fd Agric. 1975, 26,429.

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