Miraculous Little Baobab Seeds

Baobab, Fruit

Baobab, Fruit

Baobab seeds are embedded in the cream-colored fruit pulp and the red-brown fibers in the hard pericarp. The outer shell has to be cracked open manually first in oder to collect pulp, fibers and seeds. In a next step the seeds are sieved, washed and left to dry in the sun.

Hard Shell, Valuable Core

The seed coat is approximately 0.1 millimeters thick and not easy to peel to get to the kernel. Traditionally, seeds were treated and used differently depending on the region. Seeds can be consumed as a whole or the inner kernel only. They can remain raw or be roasted, dried in the sun, boiled for several hours, fermented, or be ground.

Open Baobab Fruit

Open Baobab Fruit

The seeds in the seed coat are highly nutritious and have a slightly almond-like taste. They are rich in oils and fats, vitamins (A, E), high-quality proteins, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and other minerals, dietary fiber, saturated (30%) and unsaturated (70%) fatty acids and amino acids such as lysine.

Baobab Seeds

Baobab Seeds

If some fruit pulp remains on the seeds, they are appreciated particularly by children. The drops have a slightly sour taste similar to that of citrus fruit.

In order to get to the kernel the seeds are cooked or roasted and then crushed. Roasted seeds can be eaten like peanuts. As a coffee substitute whole seeds were roasted, ground and brewed with hot water. The powder can be used as seasoning for soups or other dishes.

Popular in Traditional Healing

In traditional medicine, the seeds were used to treat various diseases. Ground seeds were mixed into a paste and used to treat gum problems and diseased teeth. The Wakamba in Kenya used a paste to treat aching joints. In the eastern Zambezi region in Namibia (formerly the Caprivi) very thin and malnourished people were treated with high calorie seed kernels. For that the seeds were crushed, mixed with herbs and cooked to a decoction. The consumption was supposed to result in weight gain.

In South Africa powdered seeds were used to treat children with hiccups. In Central Africa diarrhea was cured with a combination of extracts from the seeds and fruit pulp. Seeds were also helpful in treating stomach and kidney problems.

Baobab Seed – an Antidote to Strophanthus

Hunters used extracts from baobab seeds (or bark extracts) as antidote to neutralise the poisonous Stophanthus applied to arrowheads for hunting. Strohpantus has an impact on the nervous system of the prey taken. The meat of animals killed with the poison could have a similar effect on humans consuming it.

In former times people burned fruit shells, seeds and red fibers. The developing smoke kept away flies. From the residues potash was obtained. It was used as a fertilizer or as an additive for soap.

Baobab Oil – a Natural Beauty Booster

The oil extracted from baobab seeds becomes more and more popular on the international market for its values in skin and hair care. In South Africa the oil is cold pressed out of the seeds by means of an oil press. It only needs to be filtered and bottled. Additional processing steps or additives are not necessary – the oil remains naturally pure.

The precious oil can be applied to skin directly or used in creams, lotions, masks and baths. It has a moisturizing effect to the skin, absorbs quickly and relieves dry skin. Due to its comedogenic properties it has a positive effect on acne, psoriasis and eczema. Pregnant women use the oil to keep the skin smooth and to protect it from stretch marks. Baobab oil is used to make soap. In Africa, people use the oil for cooking. On the European market it is approved as ingredient for cosmetics but not for food consumption yet.

After the oil is pressed out of the seeds the remaining press cake can be used as animal feed for cattle, sheep and goats. The pressing residues have a high nutritional value – similar to that of legumes.

Baobabs in Need of Care

Although baobabs do not grow on plantations – nevertheless seedlings are grown to be planted near houses and settlements in Africa. During their first three years they need sufficient water and must be protected from hungry cattle, goats and sheep. Only when they grow three meters and higher, they are safe from browsing animals. People need to have a lot of patience to see the first harvest of their baobabs – it takes up to 20 or 25 years for baobabs to bear their first fruit – depending on where they grow.

A Baobab – Homegrown

Baobabs are suitable as bonsai in flower pots. However, the cultivation of seeds requires a lot of patience, too. In the wild germination of the seeds is less than 20% due to the hard shell. But this can be helped. The hard shells can be scratched or sawn open. Cracking the shell gently with secateurs serves the purpose as well. The opened seeds need to be soaked in warm water. Instead of cutting or cracking them, the seeds might as well be boiled in hot water for approximately 5 minutes – which is said to serve the same effect. In nature, the hard shell helps the seeds to keep their ability to germinate for a long time. They can sprout even after years of lying dormant in th soil. Older seeds seem to germinate faster than younger seeds.

44 Replies to “Miraculous Little Baobab Seeds”

  1. I have some old pods and wondered if the seed would still be viable. Also, could the fruit be used after many years?
    How long would they last?

    • Hi Paddy, thanks for posting your question. The seeds keep longer than the powder. It is difficult to say whether you can still use the powder. How old are the fruit? I know the powder lasts quite a while. It is important to know whether the outer shell was/still is intact (if there is a crack, the powder could be contaminated with dirt or fungus etc.) and how the fruit were kept (dry place…). With the seeds: you could still try to plant them. Scratch the outer seed shell and soak seeds in lukewarm water over night. Then plant in sandy soil. Hope I could help – good luck with your plan! Heike

    • Dear Sulaimon Robiat Olamide, thank you for your question. I would proceed with the seeds in terms of roasting as I would with coffee beans: put them on a cooking grate and put above fire but do not put into fire. It is difficult to say how long you have to roast – depends on different factors and I am afraid you have to try that out yourself. Make sure they do not get too much heat and burn. And regarding boiling the seeds: it depends on what you want to use them for. Best wishes for your seminar. Regards, Heike

    • Dear Valentine, thank you for your post & sorry for the late response – it has slipped my attention. Baobab seeds were and still are used as coffee replacements in some areas. The taste is different and I suspect that if people want to drink “real” coffee they try to get it rather than a replacement. In addition: if everybody goes for coffee based on baobab seed – no seed would be left for baobab reproduction. But other than that I cannot think of other disadvantages. But maybe you were looking for other information?

    • Dear Mudau Michael, thank you for your question. Are you referring to coffee sold in supermarkets? Without being an expert in terms of selling coffee I would suspect that roasted baobab seeds used instead of “real” coffee beans are available on local markets in rural areas which to me are commercial, too – on a “smaller” scale. So far I have not come across information that baobab coffee from baobab seeds is available in commercial markets on a larger scale. I am not sure if that answers your question. Best regards, Heike Pander

    • Hello Anna, sorry but I do not know the answer to your question. Animals like elephants, antelopes, monkeys and others do not have a problem with digesting seeds and humans can eat the seeds, too. Best regards, Heike

      • Hi , it’s not harmful to dogs provided they don’t eat too much . My Maltese dog munches on the seeds sometimes .
        Am Rita from Ghana and am into the production of baobab products .

    • Hello Talent, thank you for your inquiry regarding chewing seeds and possible impact on teeth. I know that in some areas the inside – the kernel – of the seeds (without the shell) is pounded and worked into a paste that is given to people to gain weight because it is very nutritious. I have never heard of anybody who has eaten/chewed on whole seeds. The seed shell is quite strong and you might hurt your teeth by chewing on them. In some areas the whole seeds are pressed to get oil which is very good for the skin. The remains/draff is used to feed livestock. With respect to health in general: as I said, people use the kernels but without the shells. I do not have more information on what will happen if you chew the whole seeds… Best regards, Heike

      • I come from Ghana and interestingly we chew on the whole seed after licking the powdery thing around the seed. It was mire of exercising our jaws and that’s because we badly want to get that creamy nutritious kernel out of the seed. These were my childhood days. Recently I bought some of the fruit from the market and did same. Although the feeling from childhood came back again, this time around I found it pretty tough to chew the seeds to get the kernel out. I really wish to know exactly how I can get the kernel out of the seeds.

        Also is there a manual way I could homemake the oil from the seeds?

        • Dear Adzovi Sika, thank you for your enquiry regarding opening of baobab seeds and extraction of baobab oil. That is a very interesting story you have to tell & thank you for sharing it! I can imagine that it is quite tough to open the seed coats with your teeth to get to the nutritious kernels inside… Knowing how hard the seed shells are I have never attempted this myself. I am afraid it will be quite an effort to open the seeds manually and pressing the oil out manually seems like a huge effort as well. All the producers of baobab oil I know use machines to substract the oil and they use machines to peel the seeds. You could try soaking the seeds to soften up the hard seed shells – but as soon as water reaches the inside of the seeds the kernels start to develop and want to grow into baobabs. Here is a link where you can see how you could try to open the seed coats: https://vimeo.com/292943864 Hope that helps you to find a good solution. All the best and stay safe & healthy – Heike

          • Hi Elizabeth, in order to produce oil you need to press it out of the seeds which is a difficult thing to do as it requires a lot of energy and power. The seed coats are very tough. The producers of oil I know use machines for that. Kind regards, Heike

  2. I have 05 questions on Baobab seeds

    01st How can I De-Shell the hard brown seeds to have access to the Nut or Kernel? Is there a De-Shelling machine that can crack the hard brown shell to have access to the nut or kernel?

    02nd May you please explain in great detail what Roasting and Boiling does to the 0.1mm Hard Brown Seed Shell? Does this soften the shell so that it is easy to peel or De-Shell it?

    03rd When you say Baobab Coffee…!!! How is the Coffee made from the Baobab Brown Seed? I am thinking it is roasted then the Shells are separated from the nut/kernel. The Shells are then crushed or ground or pulverized into powder… Anyway I am not sure about my theory What happen after roasting the entire brown seed? Is the entire Baobab Brown Seed ground into powder to look like normal powdered or granulated coffee we all know? Or is the entire Baobab Brown Seed pulverized using a blender to make it powder?

    04th Is the Baobab Coffee soluble in hot water when brewed into boiled water just like normal coffee?

    05th Since the brown seed shell is so hard… How many years can the Baobab Brown Seed stay fresh/good before it gets bad? I have Baobab Brown Seeds that I collected from about 5years or 6years back… Are they still good?

    Thank You



  3. Good morning
    I have couple of questions

    How can I de-shell the hard brown seeds to have access to the Nut or Kernel? Is there a De-Shelling machine that can crack the hard brown shell to have access to the nut or kernel?
    When you say Baobab Coffee…!!! How is the Coffee made from the Baobab Brown Seed?
    Is the Baobab Coffee soluble in hot water when brewed into boiled water just like normal coffee?
    Since the brown seed shell is so hard… How many years can the Baobab Brown Seed stay fresh/good before it gets bad?

    King regards

    • Hello José, thank you for your interest in my website and your questions. I have seen a de-shelling machine – some of the baobab oil producers are using that to separate the shells from the kernels – but I do not have more information on that. I write about baobab but do not produce baobab oil. For coffee: the seeds are ground and then brewed with hot/boiling water. The non-soluble parts sink to the bottom of the cup. The other day I had a comment from a baobab enthusiast who reported that he managed to germinate baobab seeds that were 30 years old.
      Hope that this answers your questions. Best regards, Heike Pander

  4. Hello Heike,

    Please I have a few questions for you.

    I would like to know whether the baobab seeds have to be roasted before extracting the oil. Or the raw seeds can be pressed with a cold pressed machine to get the oil?

    Also, if the oil is cold pressed, what is its shelf life?

    • Dear Akosua Poku, thank you for your inquiry about baobab. I am not a producer of baobab oil – you would have to contact one of the producers. As far as I know, the seeds do not have to be roasted before the oil can be extracted. Best regards, Heike Pander

  5. Hi Heike!
    can the pulp together with the seed and the red fibers just be grounded all together in a food processor, in order to get and consume the powder for example in smoothies?
    or is there anything talking against this?
    like the hardness of the shells?
    or the powder will not be good for consumption

    Thanks a lot in advance!


    • Dear Anibal, thank you for your inquiry regarding processing of baobab pulp, seeds and fibres. I have never heard of processing all three in the same process and I doubt that the outcome would really be edable… At least, I have never tasted it. As the shells of the seeds are very hard one would get the shredded pieces in the rest of the powder and to me as a consumer that would not be an enjoyable feeling… unless you have a grinder that produces fine flour. In that case I would not have reliable information on whether the outcome is good for consumption or not. All the producers I know separate the powder from the seeds and process each separately – even the red fibres are groud separately. Hope this information helps. All the best & stay safe – Heike

  6. Good day!

    I’d like to buy Baobab nuts. Where can i buy them? They will be for massage, i want them whole.


    • Hi Cathy, thank you for your inquiry. Baobabs grow fruit and those are not called nuts and are usually 15 cm long or even more. I do not know where you live – but you could try to check with baobab fruit powder wholesalers – some might have whole fruit for sale. If you are lucky and live in a country where baobabs grow naturally you could try to find whole fruit at local markets. All the best & kind regards, Heike

  7. Pingback: What Fruit Is Baobab? – Almazrestaurant

  8. Good day sir.
    Am currently doing my thesis on the effects of baobab seed for the treatment of anemia.
    Sir, I will like to know whether baobab seed is a good source of iron before I go deep into my research please.

    • Dear Sakina Baba, thank you for your inquiry regarding iron content of baobab seed. The powder of the baobab fruit contains iron and so do the seeds. As both are a natural product, I cannot tell you how much iron the seeds contain as the content varies. A chemical analysis gives information about the iron content. Good luck for your research & kind reagrds, Heike Pander

  9. Thank you very much for the idea. I grow in a village having Baobab trees around, never know how beneficial this tree holds. As kids we use to eat powder only. Believing that it helps to cure colds. Now I know a lot about it. M busy trying Baobab coffees.

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