Argan oil is an oil produced from the fruits of the Argan (Argania spinosa) a species of tree endemic to the calcareous semi-desert of southwestern Morocco. It is the sole species in the genus Argania. The Argan tree now grows only in southwest Morocco. It is believed to date back 25,000,000 years and to have once covered North Africa. Now endangered and under protection of UNESCO, the Argan grows wild in semi-desert soil, its deep root system helping to protect against soil erosion and the northern advance of the Sahara.
Argan oil was first reported by the explorer Leo Africanus in 1510. An early specimen was taken to Amsterdam and then cultivated by Lady Beaufort at Badminton c1711. Now only 8600 square kilometers remain in southwest Morocco and these are declining at a rate of 500 km² per year.
The most labor intensive part of oil-extraction is removal of the soft pulp (used as animal feed) and the cracking by hand, between two stones, of the hard nut. The seeds are then removed and gently roasted. The traditional technique for oil extraction is to grind the roasted seeds to paste, with a little water, in a stone rotary quern. The paste is then squeezed between hands to extract the oil. The extracted paste is still oil-rich and is used as animal feed. Oil produced by this method will keep 3-6 months, and will be produced as needed in a family, from a store of the kernels, which will keep for 20 years unopened. Dry-pressing is now increasingly important for oil produced for sale, as the oil will keep 12-18 months and extraction is much faster.
Argan oil contains 80%
unsaturated fatty acids
Argan oil is rich in essential fatty acids and is more resistant to oxidation than olive oil.Source: Wikipedia
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