2.1.2 Oil seeds
(see Flowsheet 2)
Flowsheet 2 Traditional (wet) Process
for Processing Oil seeds (General Flowsheet)
1. With groundnuts, palm kernels and often with shea nuts.
2. By pounding, crushing between stones or a stone and an iron
bar or by the service mill; fresh coconut is grated.
3. Groundnut paste is treated by stirring and addition of some
water (12 %). Crushed palm kernels are cooked in excess water. Shea nut paste is
treated by beating in air and washing of the cream or cooking in excess water.
4. Tunkusa and kuli-kuli for human consumption from groundnuts;
animal feed from palm kernels and coconuts.
Groundnuts are almost exclusively processed in combination with
the utilization of the residue for human consumption. In fact often the
by-product, a kind of a snack, has to be understood to be the main product and
the manufacturing of the groundnut oil only as part of the process.
In Ghana the following process was observed:
- decorticated groundnuts are roasted, treated by a rubbing
action and winnowed to remove the pellicles
- the nuts are crushed between
stones, several times to obtain a fine paste
- this paste is stirred
vigorously, while gradually adding some hot and/or cold water (about 10 %
- when the oil appears it is skimmed off and the mass formed into large
balls and some more oil is pressed out by hand; the balls are called:
- the tunkusa is subsequently processed into kuli-kuli, a ring or
ball-shaped snack, prepared by frying products moulded out of tunkusa in
groundnut oil. It can also be used as the main ingredient for groundnut
For Burkina Faso, a similar process has been described.
A typical example has shown a recovery of 0.5 kg oil and 3.5 kg
kuli-kuli (out of 3.8 kg tunkusa) from 4.0 kg of groundnuts; the production of
the oil and tunkusa took 5 man working hours.
After cracking the palmnuts, the palm kernels can be separated
out. Traditionally they are processed into an oil after roasting. The roasting
makes the palm kernels brittle and more easy to crush by pounding. However, the
quality of the oil deteriorates because of the temperature and the oil becomes
dark coloured. After roasting the kernels are pounded. Then the pounded mass is
mixed into excess water and boiled for hours, during which the oil is skimmed
off. Finally the oil is dried by heating. 18 kg of palm kernels give I gallon or
4 kg of oil in about 12 man working hours.
The basic way to process fresh coconut is to cut the coconut
lengthwise in half and to remove the white kernel or so-called 'meat'. The meat
is first grated on a grating surface by hand then mixed with water and pressed
out by hand or foot. This procedure is repeated several times. The coconut milk
obtained is left to stand for a few hours to permit the separation into a
supernating oil-containing cream and water. Subsequently the cream is collected
and transferred into a cooking pot and heated under continuous stirring to dry
the oil by boiling. The protein in the cream coagulates and dries. The oil is
filtered. The residue can be eaten as a snack.
Also shea nuts are processed following a wet process. This
process has been studied in Mali and includes:
- drying and roasting of the nuts - decorticating of the
- pounding of the shelled nuts into a liquid mass, that contains
particles smaller than about 3 mm
- crushing of the mass into a very fine
paste between stones or a stone and a metal bar
- in some areas the brown
paste obtained is mixed into water, and air is brought in by beating, a cream
appears; this cream is washed several times to remove all brown particles and
transferred into a cooking pot; the cream is heated until the oil is collected
at the top; the oil is skimmed off
- in other areas or later in the year the
brown paste is mixed into boiling water and boiled for an hour, after which the
oil is skimmed off; more water is added and boiling continued; finally, a second
layer of oil is skimmed off
- by the next day the oil has hardened into a
fat, and can be packed in leaves.
The time required for processing (grinding and oil extraction)
of 12 kg shea kernels was found to be at least 18 man working hours, of which 14
hours were required for grinding. Generally, however, much more time is needed.
Oil recoveries depend on the quality of the nuts and the skills of the women and
can range from 20 % to more than 40 % on kernel weight. Normal yields have been
reported to be between 20 and 30 %. In South Mali, recovery rates of 34 to 41 %
have been reported recently.
Possibilities for improvement
Traditional methods make use of readily available utensils as a
pounding mortar, crushing stones, calabashes and cooking pots. As they all apply
water to assist the separation of the oil, these methods have in common that
crushing of the seed into a very fine paste is essential. This stage is the most
time consuming and exhausting one. This drawback of traditional methods can only
be overcome by crushing using mechanical means. Such means, as motorized mills,
require considerable investment and are only feasible at the village level. In
fact they are already available in many villages in the form of so-called
The only way to avoid the use of a motorized mill is to change
to a complete dry process using a hand press. During this process the seed is
treated before pressing with care, by crushing into flakes, moistening and
heating, in order to make the oil available so that it can easily be extracted
The equipment to be used is unsophisticated and sturdy. However,
investments required are only feasible at the village level. The process will be
treated in detail under