UCUÚBA-Butter - Baboonwood - (Virola surinamensis, Myristicaceae)
FATTY ACID COMPOSITION AND PHYSICAL-CHEMICAL DATA
The butter of ucuuba has a high-melting point (53 °C) and saponification value (220 mg KOH / g oil), which exceeds the values of beef tallow (which range from 43 to 45 °C and 200 mg KOH / g) and makes ucuuba butter an ideal raw material that could replace animal tallow in the production of fine soaps, as well as replace other fatty substances in the food and pharmaceutical industries that need a high melting point. The replacement of animal tallow with the vegetable butter of ucuuba solves the problem of product contamination from the use of animal tallow and even gives soap more consistency and durability. Its employment is perfectly feasible even though it is more expensive than animal tallow.
The seeds are rich in fat (60%–70%), and 70% of the fat is composed of trimyristin, a triglyceride of myristic acid which is an aromatic essential oil that is important to the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food industries. Currently, this essential oil is extracted from nutmeg, which has a concentration of about 80% of this triglyceride.
Commonly, the oil is used as an ingredient of candles and to burn for light, which spreads an aromatic odor. In home medicine, it has been successful at treating rheumatism, arthritis, colic, ulcers, and hemorrhoids. The butter of ucuuba, which is hard and yellow, can be used in combination with other ingredients for the production of candles and plant-based soaps, and is a substitute for paraffin, which is made with petroleum. Soaps and creams made with ucuuba show a proven anti-inflammatory effect, and have healing and anti-septic properties. A mature ucuuba tree can be sold for R$ 5.00, which is then transformed into broom handles that are sold for R$ 0.40 each in the fairs and ports of Belém. However the seeds, which are sold for R$ 0.50/kg, can generate an income of R$ 18.00 to R$ 25.00 per year, assuming a productivity of 30 to 50 kg of seeds per year. The fruits are collected along beaches and streams throughout the Amazon region, stored, and sold to make plant-based butter that replaces animal tallow when making soap.
Ucuuba is a native tree of the floodplains found throughout the Amazonian region, extending to the states of Maranhão and Pernambuco. The indigenous name of the tree means grease (ucu) and tree (yba). This species prefers flooded regions, and reaches a height of 25 to 35 m. A mature tree can produce between 30 to 50 kg of seeds per year. The seeds are rich in fats (60%–70%) and extracts of oil / tallow can reach 50% per kilo of seeds (dry weight). A plantation with 150 trees per hectare can yield up to 7 tons of seeds per year, which can be processed into 3500 kilos of fat per hectare. Trees can grow 3 m over the course of two years. The wood is of excellent quality and is used for particleboard and laminated wood. The extraction of trees for these uses is endangering the remaining forest resources.
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