Zoubida Charrouf and the Story Behind Morocco’s Argan Oil – CNN’s African Voices

CNN, African Voices, by Errol Barnett (March 10, 2014) — Zoubida Charrouf is a professor and research scientist in Morocco who wanted to save the argan tree forests, which are indigenous to Morocco and deeply rooted in the country’s culture and history, but were in danger of being squeezed out between the advances of rapid regional development and the encroachment of the vast Sahara desert.

With her research, Charrouf discovered that argan oil, with its unique cosmetic and culinary qualities, could be the key to both saving the argan tree and empowering rural Berber women who had little opportunity for employment or education. Until, that is, the passion of one professor unlocked the door to what is now a remarkable story of environmental success and women’s empowerment.

CNN’s Errol Barnett interviews Zoubida Charrouf, the mother of the argan oil revolution in Morocco, in a three-part series for African Voices:

 

Watch it here:

Part 1: Passion drives Moroccan professor

Part 2: Inside Morocco’s argan oil co-op

Part 3: The business of argan oil

5 ways to identify good quality argan oil

A little while ago I wrote a post about how to identify good quality argan oil. This is the follow up ….

1. It’s all in the argan nuts
in reality the argan nut is not a nut, its’ a fruit and the little thing that is pressed to extract the glorious oil is the kernel of the argan fruit.
Since the industry has gone rampant, some producers might use argan kernels that are old and mouldy.

2. These two lovely ladies.
You have probably seen this picture of these two lovely ladies working hard pressing argan oil. Many companies use this stock image and it appears like these two must be hand grinding and pressing argan oil for half of the world population!

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Companies want you to believe that the oil is hand pressed and that you are getting an exotic artisan product. The argan kernels might be cracked between two stones by hand, but pressing the oil is another ballgame. Back in the days,  the oil was extracted from the argan cake using water. Which was ok for life on the farm, as the oil only needed to be preserved for 3 months.

Adding water to argan oil makes it oxidise rapidly and deteriorate all the good components of the oil. It doesn’t sound as exotic, but once the argan kernels are cracked by hand, they are then pressed in special machines to extract the oil.

3. Deodorised
Watch out for this one! When argan oil is deodorised it goes through a steam and chemical treatment, which basically strips the argan oil of its wonderful qualities.

4. Light like a feather
Argan oil is the favourite product for the beauty industry as it can be included in skin and hair care products. It should be light as a feather and not leave a greasy residue.

5. Pure Argan oil
How do you know that what you are using is pure argan oil if it says it on the bottle? Well you don’t. You can only assume that it is. Unfortunately some oils on the market are mixed with inferior oils to maximise profit.

What makes Mira’s Hand argan oil different?
We are Moroccan ourselves and know the industry and the region very well. We work directly with our producers. Our argan oil is pressed for us every three months under a strict quality control system, is lab tested and packaged with the most care and flown out to Australia, not shipped, 3 days after pressing. We bring in only small batches of argan oil to secure the freshest and highest quality argan oil available on the international market.

FREE postage and handling!*

FREE-5

We changed our policy and are now offering FREE STANDARD POSTAGE AND HANDLING on all orders Australia wide!

Also, if your order is over $60, you will receive FREE EXPRESS POSTAGE AND HANDLING.

Order before 1pm and your order is posted out to you the same day.

Happy shopping!

*Australia only

Jamila

We are popping up!

We have moved into a pop up shop! Visit our store at 74 Johnston Street, Collingwood, Victoria. Come and check out some fantastic Xmas deals from us at Mira’s Hand, our friends at La Gaia and Spa Fresh Blends. 

Open 9.30am – 6.30pm daily. Last day of trading is Friday 20 December. 

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We will finish the year with an end of year party at the shop from 4pm onwards on Friday 20 December.

Email me to score an invite to come dance and eat and drink and be merry and all that jazz! 

Jamila 

 

 

making Moorish memories

One of my fondest food memories is eating Tunisian spaghetti at my uncle’s house in Noyon, a little town in France.

I was ten years old. My uncle’s nice Tunisian neighbor had made us children a big plate of spaghetti to share. We all dove in headfirst, the chickpeas in the spaghetti sauce where fresh and crunchy. The meatballs, oh my meatballs were larger than life and juicy and spicy and had a succulent smoky aroma, the tomato sauce was made from sun ripened fresh tomatoes, and the spaghetti was perfectly cooked. To this day the memory of that spaghetti makes me salivate.

We are so very proud to announce the launch of our new company Mira’s Table. Come taste our amlous (traditional Moroccan spreads) and premium virgin culinary argan oil at Lunch, Australia’s first industry event dedicated to the food-to-go market! If you are in the food biz register here for free.

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Tell me about your favourite food memory? I’d love to hear, email your story to win our complete new Moroccan gourmet range.

The truth about Argan Oil

‘Oh Moroccan Argan Oil, I put it in my hair, I didn’t know you could put it on your skin……’?

Moroccan Argan oil has become incredibly popular over the last few years as a hair care product and has been hailed as ‘the secret of Moroccan women’.

This statement always makes me slightly squirm. Last time I checked with my mother and the women in my family, we weren’t keeping a bottle of argan oil as a secret from the rest of the world in a box with our incense and jewels.

Many Moroccans say when asked about the oil ‘Oh Argan Oil, I dip my freshly baked warm bread in it, make Amlou or use it for cooking and salads’. You see the difference between cosmetic argan oil and culinary argan oil is that one comes from the unroasted argan kernel and the culinary oil comes from the roasted argan kernel. Pure cosmetic Argan Oil is incredible for SKIN, HAIR and NAILS.

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Fresh baked Moroccan bread

So how do you know if you are buying the real stuff?

1. Packaging
Clear or even worse plastic packaging is a gianormous no no!! This should be a very big red light alert! Any self respecting producer of Argan Oil knows the worth of this oil and would never ever put their precious oil in clear or worse plastic packaging. Clear packaging makes the oil detoriate. The light breaks down the great properties of the oil. So make sure your argan oil comes in a dark glass bottle.

2.Read
Read your ingredient listing. ‘Pure Argan Serum’, ‘Moroccan Argan Oil’, ‘Moroccan Berber Oil’ are a few terms that are being used by hair care brands to make you think what you are buying is pure. It’s very simple. If argan oil is the fourth, fifth or sixth ingredient on the list, it means you are not getting the full benefits of the oil. You might as well go and crack open that very expensive bottle of champagne, dilute it with 20 liter of luke warm tap water and say you are drinking champagne. Catch my drift?

3. Smell
Pure Argan Oil does not contain any added perfumes or scents. Cosmetic argan Oil has this beautiful slight nutty scent that dissolves after a couple of seconds after application. If your oil smells really strong, it might mean that the oil has gone rancid.

4.Pricing
I got a bargain and paid ten bucks for this Oil. That is not going to happen I am afraid. Argan oil is a labour intensive oil, it takes a long time to produce one liter of this precious oil. On the bright side, you only need a small amount for your skin, nails and hair. A bottle will last you anywhere from 3 to 6 months.

5. Quality
Like olive oil, there are differences in quality in Argan Oil. Unfortunately the industry has gone absolutely rampant and there is more demand in Argan oil. Some producers don’t wait until the nuts have ripened and try to harvest the nuts before they are ready, which produces bad quality argan oil. (I will talk more about the industry in a future blog post).

6.Sediment
Check your argan oil, if it is even and clear it might be too refined. Good quality cosmetic Argan Oil has some sediment or cloud. The less the oil has been put through strainers or deodorised the better.

7. Feel, look and touch
Pure Argan Oil has a beautiful light texture, it is not slimey and is absorbed by your skin immediately and has a light golden colour.

8. Age
The freshest argan oil is the best oil. Look for oils that are recently pressed, not ones that are gathering dust on the shelves of shops. Mira’s Hand argan oil is flown out every three months and pressed in small batches especially for us.

Read my follow up blog post here.

At Mira’s Hand we offer the highest quality available of pure Organic Moroccan Argan Oil.