Pataua (Oenocarpus bataua)
Synonyms: Seje oil, Majo oil, Ungurahua oil
PHYSICAL-CHEMICAL DATA AND APPLICATIONS
The oil extracted from the mesocarp of the patauá palm appears as a greenish yellow and transparent liquid, with little odor and taste, and has the physical appearance and composition of fatty acids that are similar to olive oil (Olea europaea). Its high content of unsaturated fatty acids is remarkable. Due to its high content of oleic acid, patauá oil has moisturizing properties, and can be used to care for skin and hair or in formulas to treat dandruff or to revitalize hair, and can also be used in soaps and moisturizers.
In the open markets of Belém, the importance of “wine of patauá” is much greater than that of patauá oil. The “wine of patauá” has the appearance of chocolate milk and is prepared in the same way as the “wine of açaí.”
The dry mesocarp of patauá contains about 7.4% protein and posses an excellent amino acid composition. Because of this, the protein of patauá is one of the most valuable found among plants and can be compared with the meat or milk from cattle.
Traditionally, Amazonian communities utilize the patauá oil to fry food, and as a tonic to treat hair loss.
Patauá is a palm tree that grows both on dry land and in most humid forests. This species can reach 25 meters in height, has only one stem and the infructescence is arranged in the form of a horse’s tail. The patauá palm starts producing fruits in its eighth year and produces up to 3 infructescences per year. The fruits take between 10 to 14 months to develop, which is why plants can be found with flowers and fruits at the same time.
The traditional method used to extract oil from patauá involves the following procedure: soaking the fruits in water which helps to separate the pulp from the seeds, shredding the fruit and then placing the pulp in a container of water that is boiled until the oil appears. When extracting oil with a mechanical press the pulp is preheated to gain a higher yield. The patauá fruit is comprised of nearly 39% pulp (exocarp and mesocarp) and 61% seeds. The pulp contains 18% oil. Each palm produces an average of 2 bunches (infructescences) of fruits per year, which is equivalent to 32 kg of fruit that can yield up to 2.4 liters of oil when using a mechanical press.