Everyone visiting Morocco will inevitably visit one of the local souks (market). If you visit a souk in the south of Morocco, you will find many vendors selling this golden-brown liquid. When a shop owner offers you a piece of bread and tells you to take a dip and give it a taste, what do you do?? Don’t be afraid, friend, go ahead and indulge in some tasty Moroccan Argan oil!
What is Moroccan Argan Oil?
Moroccan Argan oil is produced from the kernels of the argan tree that is uniquely found in Morocco. The Argan trees grow mostly towards the low coastal areas and in the mountains south of Marrakesh. Bread served with oil to dip in is a staple breakfast food in Morocco. Argan oil is a luxury item, and is a real treat to dip bread in or to drizzle over couscous. It also has a wide range of cosmetic applications.
Amlou is a tasty dipping condiment made from Argan oil. It is a thick brown paste with a consistency similar to peanut butter, and is produced by grinding roasted almond and argan oil together using a stone mill, and also mixed with honey. Be warned; this stuff is highly addictive!
Moroccan argan oil has become increasingly popular for cosmetic use. It is sold without additives as a natural skincare and hair care product. It can be used as a skin moisturizer, hair conditioner, nail treatment, and lip moisturizer, just to name a few!
Some argan oil producers will make use of goats in the production process! The goats will climb the trees and feed freely on the fruits. They will then poop out the undigestable seeds, which are afterwards retrieved to make argan products (yes, you read that correctly!) This process considerably reduces the work involved in extracting the kernels.
If goats aren’t used, workers will have to extract the kernels by hand, making it a time-consuming, labour-intensive process. This process is a source of employment for many Berber women in the country. At present, argan oil production supports over 2 million people in the main argan oil-producing region of Morocco.
Be sure to pay a visit to one of the many Moroccan Argan Oil Co-Operatives and see the production process for yourself!
Buying Moroccan Argan Oil
Moroccan argan oil, being a rare and luxury item, unfortunately is not cheap! The best places to get oil from would be the local co-ops. When it comes time to buy, don’t be afraid to haggle. Everything is negotiable! Usually, a good counter offer to their initial price is half the original asking price, and you’ll likely settle somewhere in between. For the more adventurous in spirit, take a trip down the beaten path. There are hidden gems all throughout the country. If you don’t like bargaining, it might be a good idea to have your guide buy it for you, as he will have a better idea of the current price of argan oil.