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Argan oil, is a product that is very fashionable lately in the western world but which, in fact, is a tradition in Morocco. But first of all, since you can not start the house on the roof, we will go step by step, starting by describing exactly what Argan is.
There are two main overlooked facts about Argan and its production: the first, it develops mainly in arid zones ; the second, it is a fruit. This fruit is oval in shape, similar to olives but in greenish yellow and with an hard exterior layer. Inside, its pulp is bitter and has an unpleasant taste but usually used as animal food. Inside the fruit we find two or three seeds of similar appearance of the almond. And it is only from those seeds that the well-known oil is extracted, in such a way that it is needed at least 100 kilos of fruit (including the water they contain) to produce a liter of oil. Imagine the work that entails!
Argan can be obtained in two different ways: the modern industrial way and the traditional way, although there some urban myths about the traditional way of obtaining the “gold of Morocco”.
The process of obtaining the oil goes through three phases: removing the dried pulp of the argan fruit, breaking it to obtain the seeds and grinding them to obtain the oil. The industrial process consists of using specialized machines for each phase of the process described, normally supported by operators; that is to say, in the first phase there is a machine that is responsible for slightly cutting the surface of the pulp, so that either it separates perfectly, or else an operator does it if the machine does not achieve it. The same happens in the second phase; with respect to the third phase, the seed is subjected to a roasting process and subsequently milled, finally obtaining the oil.
The traditional process of obtaining oil can be distinguished in two ways, which differ in the first phase, that of the separation of the pulp of the fruit. Two things can happen: either the fruit and the skin are dried, falling from the tree and being easy to separate, or they are taken care by a person, or goats that they are glad to enjoy the pulp and spit the fruit of its interior later.
If we consider that, until the argan tree has the first leaves, it must reach average height of approximately three meters, surely you will wonder how it is possible that the goats reach these branches.
This, which seems an impossibility, has a simple explanation: the argan tree grows mostly in arid areas, where there is hardly any vegetation, so our friends goats have no choice but to climb the tree and eat the leaves and their fruits.
Once we have the fruit picked and without pulp, it is crushed with a stone to obtain the seeds, and then the seeds are browned on a wood fire. Then, with a mill, crush the seed to obtain a paste, which is then added water and kneaded, until the oil is obtained. It is a laborious process that can last more than six hours to obtain only one liter, and it is quite common to use it for food and for skin, a tradition made only by women.
It is produced between Essaouira and Agadir and in the Anti-Atlas region, where many cooperatives exist. Prices should range between 25 euros per litter in low quality to the 40 euros (better quality) or when bought in the cooperatives.
There are people who believe (even Moroccan people) that the process of separating the pulp from the fruit can be done by the goats , but in a totally different way: defecating it. Yes, you heard correctly, the urban legend runs that the goats eat the pulp with the fruit, but while the pulp is digested the hard fruit does not, with which they defecate it and the fruit can be found intact. And the main reason for this hoax is that there are times when argan oil smells bad.
Well, goats do not need to go through the painful process of defecating a food that they can not digest for a simple reason: they are ruminants. That is to say, they eat the fruit with their pulp, they ruminate during the night and later they spit what is not possible to digest, in this case the argan fruit.
With regard to the smell, which is true that it can happen, it has a very simple explanation: once it is split, the argan seed gives off a rather unpleasant odor, and that is why it is previously roasted, transforming the smell of a similar to the hazelnut. But of course, it may happen that we have bought a homemade oil only designed for the treatment of the skin, and has been cold pressed. In fact, it is common that in the industrial process, in addition to roasting, the seed is subjected to a deodorization process.
The argan oil is a product widely used in Morocco, not only for cosmetic purposes and applied to the skin, but also in other parts of the body, and even as a foodstuff. These are its main uses:
It is proven that it moisturizes, protects, regenerates the skin and is anti-wrinkle. In addition, used in the hair nourishes and moisturizes also, giving it shine and softness, and used in the nails, along with a few drops of lemon juice , revitalizes and give shine. It is also popularly used as a massage cream and it can be found in Hammams and massage centers around Morocco
It is used frequently for this purpose, since it reduces cholesterol and prevents cardiovascular ailments. For example, it is common to join the ground almonds and eat with bread, having a flavor similar to nougat. Sometimes, it is mixed with an almond paste and honey, producing the Amloul, a delicious cream that is rarely found outside the areas where the argan is produced.
You may also be interested in: 9 typical Moroccan foods
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