Everybody knows about the benefits of argan oil. But few know the complicated process to obtain this magnificent oil.
The know-how requires knowledge that is passed on from generation to generation in the regions of southwestern Morocco.
The Argan Tree
Goats on Argan tree
The argan tree is native to North Africa and has been around for almost 70 million years. The argan tree grows naturally both at sea level and at altitude.
We use the fruit of the tree to make argan oil. The fruit is in the shape and size of an olive or slightly larger. The kernel of the fruit contains 2 or 3 almonds from which we extract the oil.
You will need about 100 kilos of fruit to obtain 1 liter of argan oil, hence its rarity.
Here are the steps to extract Argan oil.
1.The Pickup Step
Berber women collect Argan fruits
The first step is to collect the fruits of the argan tree from the trees. This process has two actions. The first consists of threshing the trees with a pole. The second is gathering the fruits in receptacles.
The fruits are then dried in the sun to ease the next step. For a quality result, you need to select nuts in perfect condition.
2. The Pulping Step
Pulping Argan fruits
By the end of August, the nuts become brown and dry. Now, the nuts are ready for pulping.
To make it easier to understand, you should know that the nut fallen from the argan tree contains a nucleus. The nucleus itself holds an almond.
To make argan oil, we only use the almond of the fruit.
At this step, skilled women open the fruits of the argan tree delicately. They hit the nut with specific stones to open it without damaging the kernel of the fruit.
3. The Crushing Step
Crushing Argan nuts
During this step, the skilled Berber women crushed the kernels of argan with a hammer. The goal is to break them to extract the almonds.
The outside of the kernels is hard. The inside, however, is very fragile. This step is a long and painful moment. Possibly, the most tedious one in the making of argan oil. Once we harvested the famous almonds, we sorted and placed them in a container.
4. The Grinding Step
Grinding Argan almonds
To extract edible argan, you need to roast the almonds in a dish heated by fire. This step is optional and only intended for the manufacture of edible oil.
Using a hand mill, Berber women grind the almonds to form a sticky dough. This dough will be kneaded and mixed with water for hours.
5. The Settling And Filtering Step
Extracting Argan Oil
Once we obtained the dough, we left it to stand. Now, the oil begins to drain from the mixture.
We then store the Argan oil in large containers for several days. The purpose is to separate the oil from the plant residues.
The oil is then filtered several times to purify it and keep a clear liquid.
Argan oil is rare. In addition, it takes a long time to obtain. Its manufacture is not trivial but the culmination of knowledge and inimitable know-how.