Between Essaouira and Agadir you will find the famous Argan trees, in fact little factories for medical products.
It's a real miracle with these trees because this part of Morocco is the only part of the world where these Argan trees are growing that produces fruit wit Argan oil in it. Nobody knows why only there; it must be the right combination from soil and weather.
At the picture you see a little village with many Argan trees al about 3 - 5 meters high but with roots from about 15 meters or more.
The first fruit will be there when a tree is 30 - 40 years old, but they can be older than 200 years.
One tree produces about 30 - 50 kilo's of Argans fruit, enough for 1 - 2 liters of Argan oil and 20 hours of work to make it.
Small towns in this area often live off the production of Argan oil and its related products. During our trips to Essaouira or Agadir we will visit an Argan oil cooperation and see how the oil is made.
At this picture you see Argan trees.
They look a bit like large bonsai trees with angular and complicated branches.
They also look a bit like olive trees but the leaves are also green at the backside and not silver like the olive tree leaves.
Between Essaouira and Agadir you'll find thousands of them, but only there. The only place of the world!
In other places of the world you can find Argan trees, but no fruit filled with Argan oil.
When you buy Argan oil you have two types of argan oil: the pure oil that is suitable for cosmetic purposes, and the argan oil for consumption purposes. The latter is pressed from seeds after being slightly roasted.
Hence the specific taste.
Left you see the fruit of an Argan tree and you also see the angular and complicated branches.
When the trees are more than 30 years old, fruit grows that are as big as an olive. You can eat them but they have a bad and bitter taste.
First they are green, than yellow and then yellow with a lot of red and brown.
At a certain moment, after they were green, yellow, red and brown they are ripe and fall to the ground.
Moroccan women pick them up from the ground and let them dry in the sun at the roof of their houses.
In this way many women in this area, the Amazigh women, have enough work to lead a good and independent life.
The brown and dried fruit is so hard that they can be cracked and than the Amazigh women of the cooperation can take off the very hard jacket of this fruit.
The wood of the trees is also very hard and people use it as building material.
In 1998, UNESCO decided to declare the argan region as a biosphere protected area.
Here you see brown hard nuts it the left hand of the woman and the stone to crack these nuts in the right hand.
If the nut has been cracked and the shell has been removed, a hard pit remains.
In the hand at the bottom of the picture you'll see the pit and the shell of the nut.
The next step is smashing this pit after which seeds are released.
The whole proces of two times cracking nut and pit is done by hand by the Berber women.
No machine can do this job.
Here you see how somebody is breaking the pit to get the seeds.
They do that with two stones. A small one and a big one as you can see on the picture. In one pit are mostly one up to three seeds.
The seeds are white and have the form of an almond.
That's the reason that the ladies in the cooperations speak about almonds instead of seeds.
For the pure Argan oil you are grinding the seeds and for the oil for consumption you are going to roast the seeds first before grinding.
For roasting the seeds the women use very often the shells of the nuts.
Most left on this picture you see the soft oily seeds.
You can eat them but they have a bitter tast.
In the middle you see the pits.
Totally right you see the nut in his shell.
They are grinding the seeds after which a kind of drap is created that contains the oil.
With this 'machine' the ladies are grinding the seeds. On the top you drop the seeds and than you turn the upper stone over the lower stone.
Than you'll get a kind of oil containing 'porridge'.
This porridge they mix it with water and is then kneaded by hand. What you then have is a sturdy bulb that will later be used as animal feed and the oil that drips from the bulb while kneading.
(This 'device' is not used for some time because it's dry.)
This oil, the argan oil, is collected and put into bottles.
Because the whole process is laborious, the price of argan oil is quite high.
In larger cooperations the use hydraulic pressed which provides about 15% more oil, more hygienic oil which you can store easily three years after opening the bottle, and you don't have to use the water anymore, so a better quality of the oil.
Here you see the ladies of this factory working with there 'machines'. Simple stones to break the shell (right) and the pit (left).
This part only can be done by hand. A lot of hard work!
Of course it's nice to taste the result of this hard work.
In the middle the clear Argan oil and left and right from it the several products made with the Argan oil, for example Amlou, a kind of peanut butter made from grinded almonds, with Argan oil and honey.
The pure Argan Oil works very therapeutic for the skin of the face and hair.
The therapeutic properties of argan oil are mainly attributed to specific polyphenols that the oil contains and to the high levels of squalene and tocopherols.
By eating it, drinking it of using the oil for your skin you really feel yourself younger and more healthy.
Argan oil, the liquid gold of Morocco, is one of the most powerful oils. The most powerful oil is the oil of the fig cactus that you also can buy in the same cooperations.
This Moroccan oil from the fig cactus is the most expensive oil there is because you have to use more than 1000 kilo of fruit to get one liter of oil; the liquid platinum of Morocco.
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Hans ter Brake, fotographer (Friday, 20 April 2018 10:15)
Beautiful pictures. My compliments!