The argan (Argania spinosa) is a species of tree exclusively endemic to the southwestern region of Morocco. More than 80 million years ago, this tree was prevalent throughout Europe and Africa, but climatic changes have reduced the area in which it can be found today to a region covering approximately 8200 square kilometers in North Africa.
This thorny evergreen, which can grow to a height of up to ten meters, tolerates extreme heat and long dry periods very well. Its leaves and fruit are a source of food for sheep, goats, and camels.
Argan fruit is similar in appearance to large olives. Each fruit contains one or two almond-shaped seeds in its core. The extraction of argan oil has traditionally been a job exclusively for Berber women, who perform this task in small cooperatives in order to supplement their income. Here, the hard nut from the argan fruit is cracked by hand in a painstaking process. The seeds are then removed and in some cases roasted over an open fire, after which they are pressed with hand-operated mills to release the oil. It takes around three kilos of seeds – and one working day – to produce a liter of argan oil.
Because of the rising global demand for argan oil, big companies now buy up the dried fruit and mechanically press the seeds at facilities in major Moroccan cities.
Oil made from roasted argan seeds has a nutty taste and is used in modern cuisine as a delicacy for both hot and cold dishes.
Cold-pressed, non-roasted argan oil is well suited for cosmetic industry applications, particularly as an ingredient in natural cosmetic products.
INCI Name:Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil