Moroccan liquid gold – how to buy argan oil?
Called liquid Moroccan gold, argan oil is for sure number one on the list of souvenirs worth of bringing from this country. Also one of the most expensive oils in the world so very easy to find fake mixtures. Made from the fruit of the argan tree, occurring endemically only in southern Morocco between Essaouira and Agadir. To produce 1 liter of this precious oil, 30-35 kg of fruits is needed.
Argan oil is produced for cosmetic and culinary purposes. In the kitchen, added to salads, meat or dips is treated as a healthier alternative to sunflower oil. Its expensive, cosmetic and cold-pressed version is used for body and hair as well as serum for hands and nails.
Edible argan oil has amber color as a result of roasting argan fruits. Cosmetic oil is a little bit brighter, similar to gold. Only stored in glass bottles, so that it does not lose its benefits. The label describing the composition should contain only 100% Argan oil without the addition of parabens or other vegetable oils. The safest products are marked by ECOCERT certificate, which also indicates that the oil is organic.
SMELL AND CONSISTENCY
Edible argan oil has a very characteristic nutty aroma, stronger than cosmetic version. Therefore, it is important always to smell the product before purchasing. If also the color is similar to brown, there is high probability that this is culinary hot-pressed oil, often sold for cosmetic purposes at a higher price. Pure argan oil does not solidify at room temperature, so any lumps or nonuniformed texture can indicate the presence of fillers.
WHERE (NOT) TO BUY
Argan oil loses its properties in contact with sunlight so certainly it`s not the best idea to buy the product from roadside sellers even at a bargain price. It is also better to avoid the shops “with everything” and go to a small cosmetic stores or pharmacies, which often produce oil (still with certificate) or work with particular factories. Between Essaouira and Agadir are plenty of workshops where you can directly buy the oil at the best possible price (be aware of typical factories for tourists, they are rather situated on Marrakech – Essaouira road). A verified place in Marrakech is the Firdaous Herboristerie shop, in a small shopping center, approx. 2 minutes walk from Jemma El Fna square. Prices are fixed so no need to bargain.
Bottle of 100% Argan oil can be stored approx. 2 years in a dark place. How do you know that the oil is already stale? It will just smell like rancid.