How is argan oil made?

You may have wondered why the argan oil price is quite steep compared to most other oils… there is a reason!

 Argan tree within the argan biosphere in Agadir

 

It all begins with the magnificent argan tree (or argania spinosa). Natively only grown in southwest Morocco, these trees are now UNESCO protected within a Biosphere Reserve to ensure its conservation and sustainable use. The rarity of this tree is one of the reasons why this oil is so special.

 

Once the fruits from the tree have fallen, they are swiftly collected and left to naturally dry.

 

Argan dried fruit in a bowl

 

This is where the magic happens, with a lot of time-consuming manual work. Traditional Berber women from the region work within all-female cooperatives to process these fruits into the oil we know and love.

 

First, the dried fruits are manually opened up to reveal the argan nut. These extremely tough nuts are then skilfully and artfully cracked open using two stones to reveal the valuable argan kernel. (After days of giving it a go ourselves, we hardly managed to crack just one open)! This of course takes a lot of time, but ensures the oil produced has the most nutrients and highest quality. 

 

Woman cracking the argan nut on a stone

 

Argan kernels extracted from the argan nut

 

For the culinary oil, the kernels are then roasted to bring out the delicious nutty flavour.

 

The kernels (both roasted and non-roasted) are then cold pressed using a modern extractor and the first grade quality, golden oil is collected, filtered and bottled.

 

It takes one women around three days to make just one litre of argan oil. This is what makes the oil so valuable!

 

We are proud that nothing goes to waste in this entire process! All of the empty nut shells are collected and used for fire supplies for ovens. The extracted dried fruit, along with the solids left over from the cold pressing are used to feed livestock. The second grade quality oil is re-filtered and used locally for a cheaper price. Kudos Morocco for zero waste!

 

Argan nut empty shellsArgan cold-pressing solid extracts