What's Argan oil?
Argan oil comes from the argan tree (Argania Spinosa), an endemic tree in southwestern Morocco. Used locally for centuries, nowadays argan oil is attracting increasing interest from outside of Morocco, thanks to both its cosmetic and dietary properties.
Ancestral method of argan oil extraction
Once ripe, argan fruits are typically collected by women and brought to village where they are broken down the traditional way between two stones, (left shells are usually used to feed needed fire).
After getting rid of the shells, the almonds are then closely crushed along with some water in a handmade mill called Azerg. Then the obtained dough is kneaded repeatedly and pressed by hands to extract argan oil. The residue is conserved and used to feed own livestock. Using this traditional way, it takes more than 10 hours to produce just one liter of argan oil.
Argan almonds are gently roasted before being crushed yielding an oil used in daily kitchen recipes. For cosmetic purposes, we should use argan oil that comes from the not roasted almonds.
The production of Argan oil has always been a merely matter of those Moroccan local families. But recent exploitations of argan fruit has taken it to an even more crafty, let alone industrial level because of the publicity that has been made on the virtues of argan oil. Local women's cooperatives have joined forces to produce more of this miraculous oil the traditional way.
A part of argan oil production is intended for export to Europe, Canada and the United States, which reinforces the local socio-economical role of this magically precious oil. Some of argan oil production is meant for high level cosmetic usage after further processing in laboratories.
A summary of Argan oil benefits
- For centuries, Argan oil has been used locally for therapeutic, cookware and cosmetic purposes, today the whole world is appreciating this oil.
- Argan oil is highly rich in essential fatty acids oleic and lineoic acids (47%) as well as in vitamin E (60-90mg/1OOg) , which positively boost our skin regenerating capabilities.
- It repairs and protects the skin against droughts and external aggressions, preventing its premature aging thanks to its essential fatty acids.
- Argan oil vitamin E richness, gives its antioxidant qualities
- It protects muscles from degeneration associated with aging.
- It can be used both for internal and external purposes.
- some argan oil internal usages: Massage, for rheumatism, against hair loss, to eliminate dandruff, against acne, burns, wrinkles, to protect against skin drying.
- some argan oil internal usages: positive effect against cholesterol and atherosclerosis.
- some argan oil culinary usage: in dressings, its aroma couples very well with crudites.
- Its nutty after-taste enhances so many dishes: whether with fish or goat's cheese, with puréed sweet potatoes or a salad of carrots and oranges.
- A simple argan oil drizzle will enliven your soups, cooked dishes and even desserts.
- It adds a touch of nut and sesame, bringing an oriental flavor to your cooking,
- It enhances the prostaglandins synthesis. Argan oil contains no cholesterol, which makes it very suitable in the context of any cholesterol-free diet.
- It protects the cardiovascular system.
- For a cosmetic use, it softens the skin, revitalizes the tired and wrinkled parts by rehydrating and giving the skin its lost youthful elasticity.
- Argan oil is also highly effective as a relief middle in cases of burns, scars and the like.
- Argan oil has a strengthening effect for nails and hair.
- Argan oil is widely used in the local recipes as well as in traditional medicine as a treatment of skin diseases such as acne and chickenpox (varicella).
- Currently, it is used as a medicinal product and active ingredient in many cosmetics and increasingly used by international and famous beauty specialists.
Argan oil constitutes an important source of lipidic fat. It's estimated that argan oil production is between 3,000 and 4,000 tons, that is 1.6 percent of total Morocco oil consumption.
You would appreciate knowing that to produce just one liter of argan oil you need, in good years, no less than eight argan trees. A long day of labor is needed to get such precious liter of oil : argan fruits drying, pulping, getting rid of argan nuts shells one by one and by hand, crushing and grinding roasted almonds the traditional way and finally hand-persing and extracting this legendary oil. Added to argan fruit scarcity, comes the difficulty of production. (see argan oil production steps in photos).