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Argan oil

bottles of argan oil in Borough Market“Have you heard about argan oil and the goats?” Katherine turned to me.
“No. What goats?”
We were standing in Borough Market on our foodie day out.
“Well,” her tone was surreptitious, “there is this tree in Morocco called the argan tree. The goats love the fruit and they scramble madly to eat it. The stones of the fruit are so hard that they pass right through the goat and out the other end, undigested.”
“Then the goats tread the kernels?”
“No. The stones are collected by Berber women who smash them open and crush the kernels to make the oil. It tastes great. There are also argan oil beauty products. Go and try some.”
She pushed me towards the stall.

The lady on the argan oil stand was friendly and helpful. I wasn’t keen on the idea of the goats’ role in the oil production but I tasted it. The oil was nutty and absolutely delicious.

Feeling a bit of a devil, I bought a bottle. Goat or no goat, it was great oil. In fact if you venture onto the Wild Wood Groves’ website you will see that goats are banned from their argan tree groves for three months prior to harvesting the fruit until well after the harvest has ended. So If you buy oil from Wild Wood Groves, the argan stones have not had a jouney through the guts of a goat. If you buy argan oil from elsewhere in the region the journey of the kernels may be a bit longer than ground-hand-basket (observed by fenced in goats).

Argan oil is cold pressed, extra virgin and extremely beneficial to health. It has nearly double the vitamin E found in olive oil, is 80% unsaturated, rich in omega 6 and 9. It is produced in Morocco where it is used to lower cholesterol and protect the heart, liver and gallbladder. It has been used there for centuries to treat a whole gamut of conditions. It is also believed to be a tonic and aphrodisiac.

The production of argan oil is labour intensive. It takes one person a couple of days to collect enough seeds to make a litre of oil. The argan trees are covered with spiky thorns so it’s difficult to pick the fruit, which is gathered off the ground when they have dropped in late summer. Then the fruit is peeled from the nuts and the nuts are cracked between heavy stones, one by one. The almond shaped seeds at the centre of the nuts are pressed to produce the oil. Nothing is wasted. The fruit is fed to the goats and the cracked shells are used as fuel (they can burn for 30 minutes). Once the seeds have been pressed, the seed cake is fed to cattle.

This oil has great depth of flavour. Just a tiny dash on a salad can give a totally new dimension of flavour. As a lot of the health giving properties can be lost if it is heated, it’s best drizzled on just-cooked food. It’s also very good as an appetiser. Just dip crusty fresh bread in a saucer of argan oil.

If you want an usual and special present for someone, argan oil is well worth considering. We bought a 60ml bottle for �6.00 in Borough Market and use it as an occasional treat. You can also buy the oil on line from the Wild Wood Grove website.

Argan oil won a Gold Medal at The Great Taste Awards 2005.

7 Comments so far

  1. Katherine on May 4th, 2007

    Hello F! Isn’t the oil scrummy? There’s the straight version and the toasted version; we love to dunk coarse wholemeal bread in the toasted one, sprinkled with a bit of sea salt. It has a taste unlike any other oil I’ve tried.

    They also make a honey-almond-argan oil paste which you spread on toast in the morning which I tried but didn’t buy in Morocco (too heavy to bring back). Wish I had now - maybe Wild Groves sell that too…

  2. fn on May 4th, 2007

    Hi Katherine, thanks for dropping by.

    The oil that we bought is the toasted version. Great depth of taste and pizzazz.

    The paste is called Amlou. It is on the Wild Groves stall in Borough Market and available from their website. They also sell Moroccan saffron that looked very good.

  3. mrs sani on February 5th, 2008

    can you send me details about argan oil, & where can i buy it locally to me. 31 dalmeny ave. margate, kent ct93nj , as my computer is out of order at present.

  4. Jo Knight @ LittleFfarm Dairy on February 5th, 2008

    Wow, I wish I could get some of the fruit for our goats, they love a treat! Think I’ll order some of the oil for us as well…

    Although very naughty sometimes, our lovely goats do deserve an occasional treat, though; last year they were ‘excavating’ on the site of the Ffarm’s old water mill & unearthed an exquisite, hand-blown cobalt blue fine glass vase in pristine condition, believed to date to around 1750. Why it had been discarded in the first place, how it got there & how on earth it had survived centuries in the soil without getting broken, is a complete mystery….anyhow next week I think I’ll get the goats to choose the Lottery numbers!

    Meanwhile, being in Wales, the vase is the perfect vessel for displaying the first daffodils of the year - albeit carefully, of course!

  5. fn on February 6th, 2008

    Hi Mrs Sani

    I am sorry but I can’t help you on your quest for Argan oil. Your best bet would be to visit the Wild Wood Groves’ website, the link is above as they import and distribute the oil. You can buy the oil direct from them on line.

    Hi Jo

    Amazing. Super to have such gentle archaeologist goats.

  6. Renee Elliott on July 23rd, 2008

    I am interested in finding argania spinosa seeds for the purposes of trying to grow them in a poor arid region of India I will be visiting. This could be a boon to some poor people if they would happen to grow there. Do you know of any way the seeds themselves are made available? Thanks and blessings, Renee Elliott

  7. [...] The droppings of the goats contain the kernels of the seeds they consume which are, strangely enough, used by locals to press and grind into oil. Even more disturbingly: this oil has a number of uses including culinary (yes, people eat it) and cosmetic (yes, they also smear it on themselves). You might want to skip over the versions of these products sold by local farmers for the somewhat cleaner mass-produced varieties. For a quarter-liter bottle of this goat-digested kernel-oil you can expect to pay from 15 to 50 dollars. [...]

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