The quantity of argan oil extracted depends on the extraction methods used as well as on the quality of the argan kernels harvested.
Before I talk about the different Argan oil extraction methods, let´s have a look at the harvesting step.
The natives use two traditional centuries-old methods for collecting the Argan fruits:
The local women would either collect the fruits directly from the ground after they naturally fall between July and August.
Or collect the Argan nuts after goats eat the fruit’s pulp, ruminate and spit them out.
And although the latter method sounds weird, but rest assured that it is cleaner and safer than it first sounds, especially that the kernels are protected in a shell that is 15 times harder than the hazelnuts’. Furthermore, the women usually clean the goats’ argan nuts before processing them anyway.
The goats of the Arganeraie acquired astonishing climbing skills to be able to nourish on the Argan fruits, and “take over” the harvesting job at the same time.
That said, this harvesting method become very rare, simply because the raw material needed to satisfy the worldwide need of argan oil is way bigger than any herd of goats, no matter how big, can collect.
Besides, remember the most expensive sort of coffee on earth – is made from animal poop and costs around 400 $ a cup!
Processing The Fruits To Extract Argan Oil
After collecting the fruits, the women would sun-dry the argan fruits for about a week in the open air. This will speed-up the removing of the pulp covering the argan nuts. This fleshy pulp is considered to be a very nutritive cattle feed.
Nowadays, there are also other solutions to mechanically remove the pulp to gain time before proceeding to one of the different Argan oil extraction methods.
The quantity of the fruits (and hence kernels) needed to extract one liter of the pure Argan oil depend -among others- on the extraction method adopted as well as on the fruits quality.
It takes almost 48 hours of intensive work to remove the pulp of 30 Kg of argan fruits, crack the gained nuts to have only 2 Kg of kernels at the end.
After that, depending of argan oil version needed (cosmetic or culinary), the 2 Kg kernels are roasted on open fire for half an hour
before grinding them, using stone-mills, to yield 1 liter of culinary argan oil. The grinding itself takes up to 3 hours of cumbersome work.
I found the following video to be very informative as it breaks this information down in an understandable way:
That’s a lot of work for a small amount of oil, especially if you consider that the yearly crop yield of the argan tree is doesn’t depass 180 kg.
That said, both the cumbersome extracting process and the scarcity of the raw material are only two of the influencing factors justifying the relatively high price of the genuine Argan oil.
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