Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How to Make Annatto Oil

annatto pods on tree (Maui)
dried annatto seeds in a pod (Maui)
beautiful orange-red color from
annatto seeds infused with oil
For best result harvest fresh annatto seeds from the dried pods.  You know the pods are dried when they opened up to show the red seeds inside (see photo from above, second from top).  You can cut down the pods from the tree and then open up each pod to get to the seeds.  It is best if you can wear gloves for this procedure or your fingers will be stained red and difficult to wash off even with soap. Once you have removed the tiny red seeds put them in a fine strainer and tap the side to rid any fine hair or thorn-like fibers.  If you cannot harvest fresh annatto seeds the next best thing is to find them in Asian grocers.  Fresh annatto seeds render a beautiful bright orange-red color when infused with oil.  I normally use canola, vegetable or olive oil.   It really does not matter the exact ratio between oil and seeds.  I generally put in less seeds than oil.  It is best to make enough annatto seed oil for what you will need or use.  Just like any oil it does get rancid over time.  The seeds store much longer than the oil when sealed and kept in a dry place.  If the seeds do not make much color when you render them then they have been on the shelf too long and should be discarded.


1 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp annatto seeds


In a pan add annatto seeds and oil.  Stir the seeds over 1-2 minutes or until the oil turns bright orange-red.  Remove the pan from heat and let the seeds steep for about 10-15 minutes.  Discard the seeds.

*Here is a link with more info on annatto seeds:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annatto

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