To the question: "What is argania?" - not everyone will answer. Perhaps only experts in the cosmetics industry and those who have traveled to Morocco will find the answer unmistakably. So what is argania?
Argan is an amazing tree that grows only in Morocco, and not everywhere there. Argan grows exclusively in the western-central part of the country (Souss) and the Atlas Mountains.
Latin name – Argania spinosa (iron tree)
Family - Sapotaceae (Sapotovye)
Description: Evergreen tree up to 15 meters tall and with a life expectancy of 150 - 300 years. Fruits in the harsh desert conditions appear on the tree only once every two years. The fleshy fruits of the argan tree are larger than olives and look like yellow plums, each fruit has a seed with a very hard shell (16 times stronger than that of a hazelnut) 2-3 nucleoli resembling almonds. Fruit color is dark yellow, from golden to deep red. The smell is light, with pronounced tones of nuts and spices. The taste is slightly reminiscent of pumpkin seed, but more piquant and noble, leaving a tangy aftertaste.
The indigenous population of Morocco - the Berbers - proudly and lovingly call argan the tree of eternal youth and life, as it provides material for construction and fuel, food for people and animal feed, oil and medicine. From time immemorial, the secret of making the miraculous argan oil has been passed down from generation to generation in Berber families. Since this tree grows only in Morocco, it is not surprising that only a few years ago, except for the Berbers of Morocco, few people in the world knew about this oil. According to botanists, in the Moroccan region, about two million trees grow on an area of 8,000 square kilometers. Several years ago, the argan tree was under the threat of extinction. The increasing demand for argan oil in the world has led to the fact that now it is necessary to take care of the conservation of the number of trees. Argania spinosaas well as expand their landing. UNESCO in 1999 declared the region of Morocco, where these trees grow, a world biosphere reserve.
The healing properties of the oil. Argan oil is one of the most expensive, rare and valuable oils in the world, it is comparable in price to truffles, oysters or our black caviar. According to the testimony of the Moroccan historian Abdelhadi Tazi, Morocco has exported extensively argan oil since the 8th century AD. The secret of argan oil is that it contains 45% oligo-linoleic acids. These acids prevent aging of skin cells and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is also an amazing source of vitamin E (74%) due to its alpha-tocopherol content. Saponins and tocopherols, contained in large quantities in argan oil extract, have a pronounced antioxidant effect and make the oil indispensable in the fight against premature aging of the body. Due to its specific and unique composition, the oil is used for dietary, cosmetic and medical purposes.
The unique properties of the oil are explained by its chemical composition: it consists of 80% unsaturated fatty acids, including about 35% linoleic acid, which is not produced in the body and can only be obtained from the outside. Argan oil is rich in natural antioxidants - polyphenols and tocopherols. By the content of tocopherols, argan oil is 2.5-3 times higher than olive oil. Polyphenols have anti-inflammatory effects. Argan oil also contains rare sterols not found in any other oil that have strong desensitizing and anti-inflammatory properties.
Due to its miraculous properties, argan oil is used today in cosmetology, as a means of combating many severe skin diseases, as well as a powerful anti-aging agent.Medicine also takes advantage of the medicinal properties of argan oil to fight diabetes and various infectious and cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer's disease and immune disorders.
The process of making butter. Until now, the process of making oil from the fruit of the argan tree is very difficult and painstaking. Only women and ... goats are involved in this process! Yes, do not be surprised, it is the goats. Local goats have long appreciated the properties of medicinal argan and even mastered a special technique of balancing on tree branches for the sake of it. Such a picture can be seen only in Morocco: a dozen goats graze peacefully ... on a tree, sometimes deftly and gracefully moving from branch to branch at a height of 5 m above the ground! The skin of argan fruit is a favorite delicacy of local goats, who devour this skin, spitting out the fruit, and, thus, carry out the first stage of cleaning the fruit of argan.
Next, the fruits are harvested and dried in the sun. Dry fruits are cleaned of fibers and Berber women manually break the shells of the fruits with stones. To squeeze the edible oil, the seeds collected from the fruits are pre-fried over low heat to give them a characteristic tart nutty flavor. Argan oil is also prepared for cosmetic use, but the seeds are not roasted - as a result, it is almost odorless. The oil is pressed using a mechanical press, then filtered through special paper.
One adult tree produces 6 - 8 kg of fruit. From 100 kg of fruit, you can get about 5 kg of seeds, from which about 1 - 2 liters of oil are squeezed out. That is, to get 1 liter of oil, you need to harvest from 6 - 7 trees! In terms of time, it takes more than 1.5 days of work for several women to obtain one liter of oil, because the entire process of preparing oil today is done manually and is very laborious. Simply peeling the nuts with stones takes approximately 12 hours!
According to experts, the Berbers annually harvest about 350 thousand tons of argan seeds and get about 12 million liters of oil from them. This is very little, for comparison: the world produces almost 9 billion liters of sunflower oil annually, and about 3 billion liters of olive oil.
The main buyer of argan oil from Morocco today is the French cosmetics industry. And the range of products offered by modern cosmetology containing this wonderful oil is quite wide: rejuvenating and regenerating creams for skin and nails, hair strengthening products, massage oils and bath products. By the way, if you are going to relax in Morocco, then you will not find better means for getting a unique bronze tan without any danger of getting sunburned in the burning African sun than argan oil!