You may have heard of Argan Oil but do you know anything about it, where it comes from and what it even looks like? I guess, probably not, unless you are into beauty therapies or have been to Agadir in Morocco.
The Argan tree is very specific to the south of Morocco, and abounds in Agadir and the surrounding local area. It is very selective in its choice of soil and many projects have been undertaken to introduce these trees elsewhere and failed due to this very fussy tree.
It is totally wild and cannot be cultivated, some things in this world should just remain wild really, and this is one of them. The bushes are very unassuming, and unless you knew what it was, you would think it was probably another olive tree or similar type bush.
What makes this tree so special is the fruit it produces, or rather the seeds and oil that is produced from them. Getting the oil out is no easy matter and it has to be ground out using a series of grinding stones, oh and by hand as well just to make it harder.
As you drive through the region, you will see these bushes; most are loaded with bright yellow fruit pods. These are totally inedible to humans; however goat seems to love them. You will often see goats in the trees, perching on the thinnest branches to get at the small leaves and the fruit.
Harvesting takes place when the fruits change colour from yellow to brown, where various methods are used from picking up the fallen to actually knocking the seeds down and gathering the seeds from the goat faeces, which apparently make the best oil!
The husks are cracked and the small seeds inside are extracted. These seeds are then ground by small hand powered specially shaped grinding stones to produce the oil. This process takes ages and is done in phases until the finest pulp is ground, producing the oil.
The oil can be used in cooking, added to salads or mixed with ground almonds and honey for a delicious Moroccan breakfast or snack. It is also heated up and cooked then used in the finest skin care treatments and cosmetics. The oil is said to possess good medical properties and the cosmetics are very good for the skin.
All the work is done by women and as you drive towards Marrakesh on the old road you will see the woman’s cooperative which sells authentically produced Argan oil and Argan products, so this is the place to buy from if you want Argan products.
Whilst very expensive, the products are wonderful and last a very long time, so well worth buying. The edible oils are perfect on salads and added to cous cous for that authentic taste of Morocco. So why not buy some and help support the local economy of the Agadir region.
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