Every new ingredient is a pleasant surprise. After almost 2 years of searching and 8 months of waiting, Mowrah finally landed in my studio. I am just madly in love with Mowrah Butter.
Often mistaken for Illipe Butter (Shorea Stenoptera/Bassia longgifolia), Mowrah Butter is made from the fruit of one of two varieties of tree: Madhuca Longifolia or Madhuca Latifolia. The process for making Mowrah Butter is described on the internet as: “[f]rom its seed kernels, butter is extracted and further processed and refined to obtain a yellow/white butter, which has a mild, pleasant odor suitable for use in cosmetics and toiletries.” But, Mowrah Butter is much, much more that that.
The two varieties of this plant grow wild, with the var. Longifolia found in Sri Lanka and Southern India extending northwards to Maharashtra and Gujrat. The var. Latifolia is found in some parts of central and north India and Burma.
Almost all the parts of the plant are used in both Indian and Sri Lankan traditional ayurvedic medicines, including the bark, flowers, seeds and leaves. The strong, hard, and durable heartwood of the tree is used for construction of houses. The flowers are edible and eaten by tribes in both raw and cooked forms. They are also fermented to produce an alcoholic drink called Mahua and to produce vinegar.
Mowrah fruit is green when unripe and turns orange or reddish yellow when fully ripened and ready to eat. When the fruit ripens during July and August, it is harvested simply by shaking the branches and collecting it from the ground. When ripe, oil can be extracted from the kernels.
The flower of the Mowrah Tree is a great source of Calcium (45mg/100g), Phosphorous (22mg/100g), Carotene/Vitamin A (307ug), and Vitamin C (40mg). It is also rich in Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates, Iron, and essential minerals. The flowers are sweet and more often used for culinary purposes than the fruit itself.
The medium to dark yellow crude oil extracted from the seeds is a semi-solid in the tropical temperatures. The oil contains oleic acid (40.44-50%), palmitic acid (19-23%), stearic acid (13.70-24.50%), and linoleic acid (2.49-9.16% ), the major fatty acids, though the content depends upon the climatic zones in which the tree grows. Altitude, rainfall, and soil composition play a big role in the chemical composition of the oil and, in turn, Mowrah Butter. In a recent study, the maximum oil content found in the seed kernels obtained from different agro-climatic zones ranged from 50.07-53.85%, with the highest content found in those fruits grown in the low country dry zone and the least in those grown in the mid country intermediate zone. The content of saturated, mono unsaturated, and poly unsaturated fatty acids in M. longifolia seed oil also is determined by the agro-climatic zones: TSFA (total saturated fatty acids) = 41-47%; TMUFA (total mono unsaturated fatty acids) = 40-50%; and TPUFA (total poly unsaturated fatty acids) = 2.5-9.16.
Due to its extraordinary emollient properties, Mowrah Butter has been the single largest indigenous source of natural hard fat for soap manufacturing and for treating skin ailments. Crude Mowrah Butter also has a significant amount of phytosterols and Tocopherol (the major tocopherol isomer), making it an excellent radical scavenger.
The butter is semi-solid at room temperature and melts at 27~28C, with an orange color with a faint bark-like nutty scent. Raw Mowrah Butter has been considered a “novelty cosmetic ingredient,” traditionally used to moisturize and soften the skin and hair. Mowrah Butter has a high content of phytosterols and tocopherols. Among the tocopherols (Vitamin E) are ?-tocopherol (88.8%), ß-tocopherol (9.6%) and a-tocopherol (1.9%); a-tocopherol is the most efficient antioxidant of tocopherol isomers. It also has emollient properties and a high content of tannins. As a result, the modern cosmetic industry has been using Mowrah Butter in formulations intended to reduce the degeneration of skin cells, prevent wrinkles, and restore skin flexibility, as well as to address skin disorders.
Raw Mowrah butter is readily absorbed into the skin, leaving skin pleasantly soft with a matte finish. Wonderful ingredient!
Scientific Name Synonyms: Bassis latifolia, Bassia latifolia, Madhuca longifolia, Madhuca indica
Other Common Names: Mahua, Ban mahuva, Mahula, Moha, Mova, Butter tree, Mahua tree