Argan Oil (Argania Spinosa)
The Argan (Argania spinosa) tree is an unusual thorny tree almost exclusively native to the geographical area of south west Morocco, making the oil produced from its seeds one of the rarest in the world. Growing in the arid climate of that area, its fruits take up to one year to ripen. Consisting of a thin fleshy hard-to-peel exterior surrounding an inner nut containing up to three large seeds, it is these seeds that are rich in essential fatty acids, tocopherols, phytosterols and triterpene alcohols.
Traditionally, Argan oil is manufactured by Moroccan women in a small laborious artisanal process. Having collected and dried the fruits in the sun, the flesh is peeled off and used as cattle feed. The nuts are broken manually, roasted, crushed and ground into a paste with cold water. Hot water is then added and the oil comes to the surface where it is skimmed. After standing a while the pure oil is then decanted. Estimates are that every liter of Argan oil produced requires 10 hours of work and 100 kg of fresh fruit are needed to produce a scant two liters of this rare oil.