Argan oil is one of the rarest oils in the world. Discovered by the North African Berber tribe who skillfully unlocked the secrets of this ancient elixir which remained virtually unknown outside of Morocco for thousands of years.
When you gaze upon the gnarled tree trunk of an Argania spinosa tree, better known as the argan tree, you can feel the power of its presence. Endemic to Morocco’s southwestern region, even the strength of theses trees were not enough to save them from neglect over the last few decades as they began to decline. In 1998 UNESCO created a Biosphere Reserve program with the assistance of the Moroccan government to not only protect the argan tree but to help it flourish by re-planting trees and showing farmers how to naturally co-exist within the forest without harming it.
The argan tree is important for so many reasons, sometimes growing nearly 30 feet tall, it and stands as a guardian protecting Morocco’s land. This ‘tree of life’ as it is often referred to by the locals, has an extraordinary root system that travels deep within the ground facilitating moisture to keep the soil from eroding, thereby stopping the spread of the Sahara, the largest desert in the world. Since ancient times argan oil was used for medicinal purposes to treat external and internal ailments, it provides shade in a hot climate, dried argan fruit is very nutritious and makes an excellent animal feed and bees nest it its high branches providing a great opportunity for gathering honey. Ground argan shells are used in soaps and cosmetics, and argan wood, known for its hardness was once used as coal for firewood and to build homes because its wood is nearly indestructible to as insects.
‘Liquid gold’, the precious oil produced by the argan tree and extracted from the kernels of the argan fruit is very labor intensive. This work is done by hand and carried out by local women from our Cooperative.
During the summer months ripe argan fruit is placed in the sun to dry for a few weeks. The dried fruit is discarded revealing the argan shell. Each shell contains 2-3 argan rich kernels that must be hand-cracked for 10-15 hours to produce the 5.5 pounds of kernels needed for one liter of oil. The kernels are then lightly roasted giving them a nutty flavor before grinding. Non-roasted kernels are used for cosmetics and skincare.
Studies have shown that culinary argan oil has many health benefits. It has more than twice the amount of vitamin E as olive oil making it a very powerful antioxidant, it helps with inflammation, regulates blood sugar levels, has healthy omegas for the heart and helps heal your body. Culinary argan oil is a wonderful finishing oil that will add a subtle nutty flavor to any dish you create and it can also be used for light sautéing.