Graininess in butter is fairly common. This is not a reflection of the quality of the butter, but merely a reaction to temperature fluctuations. It tends to be more of a problem during the summer months when products sit in hot trucks during shipping.
Crystallization (graininess) in finished products or raw butter is due to the various fatty acids melting and cooling at different rates. This crystallization can occur immediately, or can appear months after the product has been made – especially if the product has experienced temperature variances during storage or transportation. If cooling occurs slowly, the fatty acids can crystallize into large clumps, causing graininess. If cooling occurs rapidly, a process known as tempering, the fatty acids will not have time to crystallize, creating a finished product which is smooth.
As a natural product, the chemical composition of a butter will vary due to the location where the raw material is harvested and/or the weather of the area during the harvesting season. Processing, transportation and store can also impact the way a raw ingredient performs in your finished product.
Tempering: The proper method for alleviating graininess is a process known as tempering. Using a double boiler, heat your butter until fully melted (most butters melt around 120 degrees Fahrenheit – for shea, we recommend 170-185 degrees Fahrenheit). Hold the butter at that temperature and stir occasionally for approximately 15 to 30 minutes. The steady heat of tempering will help completely melt the fat crystals, but will not harm the beneficial qualities of the butter. Immediately pour the butter into your desired container and then place in the freezer (recommended) or refrigerator for rapid cool down. Once your butters have cooled to room temperature, they can be removed from the freezer or refrigerator.