PHYSICAL-CHEMICAL DATA AND APPLICATIONS
Murumuru butter (Astrocaryum muru-muru) is rich in lauric, myristic and oleic acid. The fruit contains a white butter that is odorless and tasteless and has the advantage of not becoming rancid easily because it is rich in saturated short-chain fatty acids such as lauric and myristic acid. The quality of murumuru butter is similar to the seed fat of the Tucuma palm and coconut palm, but it has the advantage of providing greater consistency because of its melting point (33 C), which is superior to that of the Tucuma palm (30 ºC) and coconut palm (22.7 ºC). The quality of murumuru butter makes it possible to mix it with other vegetable butters that have a lower melting point. It can also be used to partially substitute cocoa butter in chocolate, providing a firmer consistency in environments where the temperature is higher.
Murumuru butter has the great advantage of having a low acidity value (4% to 5%), especially when made from fresh seeds, which reduces the cost of refinement. The use of murumuru butter can benefit the skin and hair. Murumuru butter is a highly nourishing emollient and moisturizer for hair and helps the skin recover to its natural moisture content and elasticity. Murumuru butter is used in small proportions in shampoos (0.5% to 1%) and formulas for conditioners, creams, and lotions, soaps, lipsticks and deodorants (0.5% to 8%).
The murumuru palm (Astrocaryum murumuru) is abundant in the Brazilian Amazon, extending to the borders of Bolivia and Peru. It prefers to grow in periodically flooded areas, especially on islands and in lowlands along the rivers throughout the Amazon River estuary and its tributaries, in dense or semi-open forests. It is also frequently found in the lowlands of Marajo Island. The stem, leaves, and stalk of fruits are covered with black, hard and tough spines that can reach over 20 cm in length, which makes harvesting the fruits difficult.
When the fruit is ripe, the inflorescence falls to the ground. The fruit contains a yellow flesh that is highly appreciated by rodents as food, which leaves the seeds clean. The seed has a hard shell and only in its dry state is it possible to separate the shell from the kernel of the seed. In general, 100 kg of dry seeds (12%–15% water) yields 27 kg to 29 kg of kernels that must be further dried until they contain 5% to 6% water, which prevents their deterioration during storage. From these kernels, 40% to 42% oil can be obtained. One single murumuru palm produces about 11 kg of dry seeds. Hydraulic extraction can produce 35% oil relative to the dry weight of the kernel, which is equivalent to about 3.8 liters of oil per murumuru palm. The kernels must be ground using grinding discs before the hydraulic extraction process occurs because they are hard.
A kilogram of fruit pulp contains approximately 50 seeds. Seed germination is moderate and growth in the field is slow.