Argan oil – a rare and precious commodity – has been used since antiquity to perform beauty rituals of women from Morocco. Grown in the semi-desert area of southwestern Morocco, Argan trees produce smaller fruits than those of apricots.
What is even more interesting about this fruit is that even goats find it so delicious that they take the risk to climb the prickly Argan trees just to reach it.
How is Argan oil made?
In the past, people could crack open the pits from goat droppings and press the kernels inside to make Argan oil. The journey through the goat’s digestive system is not a mandatory step in the making of quality Argan oil, so this step is often left out in the process of making Argan oil.
However, it makes the story unique and more interesting. But goats do damage Argan trees when they climb them to secure something for their stomach. Makers would prefer to make Argan oil from goat-free farm trees.
Despite Argan oil’s naturally nutty aroma, it is not made from a nut. Argania spinosa trees bear the fruit, the kernel inside the pit of these fruits make the Argan oil, so the product is absolutely nut-free. Men and women extract the oil from the kernel in the fruit by hand, and this process of extraction by hand can be time consuming.
While the Argan tree’s fruit is green during early spring, it falls from the tree when it turns gold. After it has fallen, it is handpicked and opened. Local goats enjoy the outer layer of the fruit which is given to them, as the pits are obtained from the fruit. The pits are left to dry in the wonderful Moroccan sun.
Then after they have dried up, the hard work begins, as each dried pit is cracked between two hard stones to remove the kernel, which is then crushed using a mortar and pestle, and then hand-ground into a thick paste with a stone quern. This paste is then squeezed hard to produce the Argan oil. The solid part of the thick paste is used as a type of soap or as animal feed.
Many people ask this question, “how is Argan oil made?” Well, this process is quite demanding but the result is priceless. There are two kinds of Argan oil: for cosmetic use and for culinary purposes. In cuisine, the kernels are ground after roasting before the oil is extracted. This brings out the sweet and delicious nutty aroma of the oil.
In addition, roasted kernels will produce much more oil than unroasted ones. This explains why culinary Argan oil is more affordable than cosmetic, which is made from raw/ unroasted pits. However, it also has a nutty aroma when first applied, but the scent disappears completely within minutes.
Argan oil is comprised of Vitamin E/ tocopherols, unsaturated fatty acids, sterols and squalene. Each component is unique in its own way and useful for a particular reason, including as antioxidants, helping with chronic inflammation, ability to protect the skin against skin cancer, and anti-tumorigenic. If you would like to know about more benefits about the oil click here.