Argan oil is a plant oil produced from the kernels of the argan tree that is endemic to Morocco. In Morocco, argan oil is used to dip bread in at breakfast or to drizzle on couscous or pasta. World-wide, it's gaining a reputation both as an ingredient in high-end, personal-care products and as a heart-healthy gourmet product
Culinary argan oil (argan food oil) is used for dipping bread, on couscous, salads and similar uses. Amlou, a thick brown paste with a consistency similar to peanut butter, is produced by grinding roasted almond and argan oil using stones, mixed with honey and is used locally as a bread dip.
Various claims about the beneficial effects on health due to the consumption of argan oil have been made. Researchers have concluded that daily consumption of argan oil is 'highly likely' to be one factor helping the prevention of various cancers, cardiovascular diseases and obesity.
Now increasingly important for oil produced for sale, as the oil will keep 12–18 months and extraction is much faster. Using mechanical presses, mixing of the dough and water is unnecessary and the dough can be directly pressed.
The fruits of the argan tree are nut-sized and may be round, oval or conical in shape. The fruits are covered by a thick peel which covers the fleshy pulp. The pulp surrounds a hard-shelled nut which represents approximately 25% of the weight of the fresh fruit.
Contained within the nut are one to three argan oil–rich kernels. Argan oil is extracted from the kernels, with yields varying from 30% to 55% depending on the extraction method used.
Extraction of the kernels is key to the argan oil production process. In order to extract the kernels, the argan fruits are first dried in the open air and then the fleshy pulp of the fruit is removed. Sometimes the flesh is removed mechanically without the need to dry the fruits. The flesh is usually used as feed for animals.
The next stage involves cracking the argan nut to obtain the argan kernels. Attempts to mechanize this process have been unsuccessful and therefore it is still carried out by hand, making it a time-consuming and labour-intensive process. Berber women, whose skills are unparalleled, often engaged in this arduous process in retrieving the kernels by undergoing a tedious manual work.
Kernels used to make argan oil for food use, culinary argan oil, are then gently roasted. After the argan kernels have cooled down, they are ground and pressed. The brown-colored mash expels pure, unfiltered argan oil. After this, unfiltered argan oil is decanted into vessels. The press cake remaining after the argan oil has been expelled is protein-rich and is frequently used as feed for cattle.
Cosmetic argan oil is produced almost identically, although the argan kernels are not roasted to avoid an excessively nutty scent.
After pressing, the argan oil is decanted and left to rest for approximately two weeks. This allows solids suspended in the argan oil to settle to the bottom, creating a natural sediment. The clearer argan oil may then be further filtered depending on the clarity and degree of purity required. Pure argan oil may contain some sediment. This is a natural part of the production process and does not affect the quality of the argan oil.
Recipes using Argan oil see Here