Aragn Oil starts by growing on ancient Argan trees only found in their natural habitat of Southern Morocco in the semi-arid regions around Agadir. The region is bordered to the East by the High Atlas Mountains and to the West by the Atlantic Ocean. During the summer months the Argan fruit is collected and left to dry then stored in large sacks before it gets transformed into Argan Oil.
The first step to making Argan Oil is to remove the fruit from the nut. The women put a large stone inside the sacks and rub handfuls of fruit over it. This breaks off the dried fruit shell and the smooth nuts can be gathered up. I had a go at this and it was by far the easier part of the process, it just got harder from here.
Next the nuts have to be carefully cracked open to reveal the delicate kernels inside. The women sit together on the floor with large stones in front of them. Holding a nut on the large stone, they hit it a couple of times with a smaller stone to crack the nut open, the kernel falls out, they throw the nut back in the sack and sweep the kernels into a basket. It’s a very skilled manoeuvre and even some of the older women, who have been doing this all their lives, have plasters on their fingers. When I tried, I not only whacked my fingers but also smashed the kernels inside, so I wasn’t very successful.
Once the kernels have been collected, they are quality controlled and any bad ones and bits of nut are removed before being put in a cold press machine. This machine works at room temperature, around 25°C, and simply presses the oil out the kernels. The Argan Oil seeps out in one direction and long strands of dried, compacted kernel come out the other.
Then the oil is immediately filtered to remove any smaller bits of debris from the kernels to produce a clear golden coloured liquid. The cooperatives we use filter the oil 3 times.
The pure Argan Oil is then stored in containers where the oil rests similar to wine production. During this resting phase a small percentage of the essential fatty acids crystalize in the oil and form a fine powdery brown sediment at the bottom of the container. For aesthetic reasons some companies filter off this sediment prior to selling it. However, this removes some of the fatty acids from the oil and therefore the goodness in the oil. Leaving the sediment in the oil is the equivalent of selling wholemeal bread with everything left in, and that’s how we like our Aragn Oil. Nothing stripped away and nothing added.
During the whole process, everything is recorded from which trees the fruit came from, to how many litres of oil are produced from each sack. One tree ends up producing around 1 litre of oil.
So now you know the process of how Argan Oil is made and the skilled, hard work that goes into making it, I hope you will join us in appreciating the amazing work the Berber Women do to produce our Pure Organic Argan Oil.