The cupuaçu tree is found in the Amazon rainforest and can grow up to 25 m tall. It is cultivated there by indigenous tribes and local communities. However, cultivated trees can only reach a height of about 8 meters. The cupuaçu tree forms long, oval, leathery leaves with a length of up to 60 cm. They have a reddish color in the beginning, but over time they take on a green color. Each tree can bear up to 30 fruits, which are up to 20 cm long and weigh up to 2 kg. The dark brown fruit contains a creamy yellow flesh that contains up to 30 seeds.
The yellowish-white cupuaçu butter is obtained by pressing the seeds of the fruit, which ripen from January to April. In its natural form, the butter is yellowish-white, whereas refined cupuaçu butter is white and odorless.
Due to its high water absorption capacity, cupuaçu butter is often used in cosmetics as a moisturizing co-emulsifier. Thanks to the right balance between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, the butter melts fast after application on the skin and is absorbed quickly without leaving a greasy film. Cupuaçu butter is characterized by its moisture-binding effect. Compared to shea butter, cupuaçu butter feels lighter and is less visible on the skin. The butter has a high phytosterol content, which supports the renewal of skin barriers and also functions as a UV filter. It also soothes the skin and helps to reduce redness through its anti-inflammatory effect.
Cupuaçu butter is also very effective for hair care. Its co-emulsifying properties improve the hair’s tear resistance. Furthermore, the hair’s elasticity can be greatly improved by using cupuaçu hair products.
The cupuaçu fruit is suitable for consumption because it contains many healthy ingredients that help the body to regenerate. These include vitamins A, B, C and E and fiber, calcium and iron. Thus the butter contributes to good digestion and low blood pressure. It is also used to lower cholesterol levels.
A fat similar to cocoa butter is obtained from cupuaçu butter for the food industry.
When buying cupuaçu butter, make sure that the product is unrefined. This means that the butter has been obtained through the process of cold pressing. Otherwise, heating the butter above 45 degrees, as is the case with the cheaper refining process, can cause the loss of many important ingredients, such as vitamins and nutrients. In fact, if heated too much, almost all the important ingredients can be lost. As a result, the smell of butter also disappears. This way, refined and unrefined cupuaçu butter can be distinguished.
Cupuaçu products are not yet very widespread in Europe or North America.