The Garcinia indica plant, commonly known as kokum, is a tree native to the Western Ghats region of India. It produces the highly prized kokum fruits, which are bright red in color and about the size of a small plum.
Kokum is part of the mangosteen family, a juicy fruit with a mildly sweet fleshy peel and an acidic pulpy interior. It is frequently used as a souring agent in Indian cuisine. Kokum sherbet is a sweetened traditional drink enjoyed in the tropical region of Goa, consumed to keep cool in the heat and protect the skin from the sun.
It has a long history of medicinal and cosmetic use in Ayurveda. While the fruit pulp contains fiber, protein, carbohydrates, pectin, and vitamin C, the most impressive of kokum’s healing qualities lie within the fruit rind and the seed…
The kernels of Garcinia indica seeds are comprised of 33% to 44% oil. Kokum butter is made by crushing the fruit seeds and boiling them in water. Fat is skimmed off the top and filtered twice to remove seed shells and debris.
Naturally white in color with a mild scent, kokum butter is somewhat dry and flaky. It has a melting point of 104°F, liquefying when it comes in contact with the skin. It’s also very lightweight and non-greasy. Kokum butter is among the most stable vegetable oils, with a shelf life of up to 2 years.
Similar in chemical composition to cocoa butter, kokum is entirely edible and possesses emollient, astringent, and soothing properties. It contains:
As its major constituent, kokum butter is made up of 56.4% stearic acid. This amino acid is a surfactant that has a cleansing effect on the skin, binding with oil molecules to help wash them away.