The production of argan oil and its by-products is the preserve of the Berber women, and the techniques of argan oil extraction are based on traditional knowledge that has been passed from mothers to daughters of Berber families down the centuries.
The result is a miracle oil, which finally found its way across the Mediterranean to Europe and the rest of the world a few years ago.
Between June and August, they harvest the ripe fruit that has fallen to the ground. This fruit is dried for several weeks in the sun, then the women crack the nut between two rocks to extract the precious, oil-rich seeds. The nut is reputed to be sixteen times harder than a hazelnut.
This work is hard: in one working day, a woman can produce from 1 to 1.5kg of seeds. 100kg of ripe fruit will become 60kg of dry fruit: 30 kg of dry pulp and 30 kg of nuts. Of the 30kg of nuts, only 3kg of argan seeds will be extracted. That 3kg of argan seeds will provide around 1 litre of argan oil after cold pressing.
The argan seeds are ground to a paste using a rotary hand stone and a quern. Water is then added to the paste and it is squeezed by hands to extract the argan oil. This manual process extracts 70% of the oil from the seeds.