BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Liquid Gold

27 Comments

Often likened to gemstones and other rare treasures, quite frankly, the rocks pale in comparison to argan oil. Incredibly rare, this so-called “liquid gold” is produced only in Morocco from the kernel of a dying breed of tree. Extracting the oil itself is a painstaking process, and thus the cost is near astronomical. Used for culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal purposes, rumored health benefits reach far and wide across any proposed usage. Whether it’s eaten, rubbed into the skin, or applied to the hair, it would seem as though anything it touches is magically improved and given a certain glow. Deciphering where the hype ends and the health benefits begin is hard to say, but there is definite merit in the claims; truth be told, it’s long been my hair care secret. Few chemical combinations have been able to tame my curly locks, but this simple oil has brought shine and smoothness to my otherwise frizzy mop of a mane. Of course, the argan oil I use in my hair isn’t pure, but cut with a number of other fillers and fragrances to bring down costs. Nothing you’d want to put in your mouth, that’s for sure.

Culinary-grade oil produced by The Argan Tree, on the other hand, is a luxurious indulgence for the palate. Setting aside the proposed nutritional perks, argan oil is worth splurging on at least once in a blue moon for the sublime flavor. Richly scented of roasted nuts, reminiscent of toasted sesame oil, it’s incredibly aromatic for such an unassuming pale yellow nectar. Deep, woodsy roasted notes prevail, though the effect is quite mild and smooth overall. Finishing with a subtle sweetness and absolutely no bitterness or astringent qualities to speak of, the centuries-long love affair with argan oil becomes easy to understand with a single taste. Surprisingly light, it doesn’t coat the palate, but dissipates quickly; a fleeting delight to chase after with another oil-imbued morsel.

An ingredient of such pedigree must be treated with respect, and for the most part allowed to shine unhindered. Applied to salads, soups, or breads unadorned (and never cooked!), the best way to enjoy argan oil is by pairing it with simple but delicious fresh fruits and veggies. Now that heirloom tomatoes are back in season, I simply couldn’t resist dressing them up in a lush argan coat.


Plate provided by Steelite

No recipes required. It would be a shame to cover up or modify such an extraordinary oil.

Have you ever tried argan oil? How do you like to serve it?

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Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

27 thoughts on “Liquid Gold

  1. Never tried argan oil but I’m intrigued!

  2. I’ve only had it in hair products, but it’s fabulous! :) I think it would be great in any kind of raw Moroccan-style dish…maybe some carrot salad, or on some baby greens w/ figs and nuts (pistachios? almonds?) It sounds so yummy!

  3. What hair care product do you use with it in there? I have wavy, frizzy hair and have yet to find anything that works that’s not full of chemicals & junk. Thanks!

    • I use Agadir Argan Oil Treatment. My only caution is that it’s generally not best to buy it online. While the prices may look better, resellers frequently repackage empty bottles with products that do not contain real argan oil. When you see a product with bad reviews and the buyer claiming that it smelled bad or didn’t work at all, I would venture to guess that they didn’t get the real product.

  4. Wow, I’ve never even heard of argan oil but it sounds amazing. Can you really not heat it? Or is it just best raw?

    • You absolutely can cook with it- The smoke point is around 400 – 425 degrees. It just has such a delicate flavor, I feel it’s generally best to apply it after the food is cooked so that you can really taste it.

  5. And I who thought argan oil was meant for the hair only;D Interesting to hear that it can be used in food also…

  6. I think the best part about argan oil is the story about how they make it… however maybe you purposely didn’t mention it… I have a giant bottle of it that I bought in Morocco and yes, it is best on salads etc… If you are ever in Morocco, bring your own bottle and stock up, it’s a bit pricey but NOTHING like what I see on the internet over here…

  7. Is anyone even sad that this tree is on it’s way out as a breed? Is there anything being done to strengthen it’s numbers?

    • Yes, the possibility of losing an entire species of anything is truly depressing, and especially when it’s a tree that is so valuable to these Moroccan women- The oil is their main source of income, and it’s a rather poor region. Luckily, the trees are protected by the efforts of UNESCO, and the main region where the trees grow has been declared a preserve. I don’t know if the trees can be “bred” to improve their numbers… But at least they’re not being chopped down any more.

  8. I’d love to dip a loaf of bread in this. Sounds divine.

  9. I love learning new foodie things. I’ve never heard of argan oil. For all I know, it could be in my hair products, but it definitely hasn’t graced my plate. I love toasted sesame oil though, so I bet this is a winner.

  10. I’ve never even heard of argan oil. Interesting.

  11. never tried argan oil, but not I want too

  12. I’ve never had argan oil, but its nutty aroma and flavor sound amazing! I love how you paired it with those gorgeous heirloom tomatoes!

  13. I’ve never eaten argan oil, but I’m definitely going to add it to my shopping list next time I’m at the store. It sounds lovely, and if it works as well as it does for my skin (I use Josie Maran’s Argan Oil in the stick form) it may well become a staple in my kitchen.

  14. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who thought argan oil was only used as a cosmetic! I saw some argan oil hair products recently and it never occurred to me that it might have a culinary use as well. And three cheers for heirloom tomatoes!

  15. Havent used it to eat b/c expensive and hard to find food grade. But it does an AMAZING job keeping my eczema in check.

  16. never tried argan oil except on hair..this post reminds me of the coconut oil story. Mom used to apply coconut oil to our hair decades ago.. and never cooked with it because she thought it was really bad for the heart.. :) thanks for the post Hannah!

  17. I wonder what it would taste like with a nice angel hair pasta w/tomatoes and basil? Or even with a nice crusty bread dipped in oil and a little cracked black pepper?

  18. I didn’t realize you could use argan oil for cooking (only ever used it in my hair lol). Based on it’s smell, I imagine it would be a great finishing oil for any Moroccan dish. I can’t believe a tree could be a “dying breed”!

  19. I never heard of this oil…so interesting Hannah, thank you so much for sharing it in this post.
    Hope you are having a great week :-)

  20. I also use it in my hair, but it never even crossed my mind that it could be edible! Will see if it could be a possible birthday present (:

    What did you use for the background in the photo of the oil?

    Thanks!

    • The background here was a sheet of recycled and hand-dyed paper I got at my local art supply store. I have a bunch of similar papers in different colors- I love how versatile they are for photo shoots like this! It’s great because you can also prop them up slightly in the back, to give you that “seamless” look.

  21. Totally new to me and sounds delightful!

  22. Wow, glad to see that you are still blogging,Hannah, and your blog looks better than ever!
    I only knew about Argan oil for hair. I did not know about a different kind for food; sounds yummy!

  23. I love Argan Oil! Thanks for the post. I have tried a number of different brands, and my favorite is Russell Organics Argan Oil http://www.russellorganics.com They have excellent quality at half the price of most other brands.

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