Annatto oil is mainly used to add color to many tropical dishes in Latin American and the Caribbean. Furthermore, I also prepare the annatto oil to add color to the dough for pasteles (our version of tamales) and alcapurrias (stuffed plantain fritters). If you look at certain dairy products like cheese and butter, you will find annatto coloring listed as one of the ingredients.
A Little Bit of Food History!
Annatto oil is made from annatto seeds, rusty-red dried seeds, from the tropical America Tree known as Bixa Orellana. The fruit of the annatto tree is spiny, bright red and shaped like a heart. The fruit is not edible and when fully ripened, it splits open exposing the seeds. When this occurs, the shape of the fruit looks like a pair of lips. The annatto tree is also known as the lipstick tree.
The Taíno Indians cultivated the annatto seeds and mainly used the seeds to make body paint. They also initiated the sofrito cooking process by adding the annatto to their cuisine for color and flavor.
Listing the Main Ingredients!
For this recipe, you will need two ingredients – Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Annatto Seeds. However, you can use the oil of your preference.
Preparing the Annatto Oil!
Pour 2 cups extra virgin olive oil into a saucepan. Add ¾ cup annatto seeds. Stir well.
Heat oil and annatto seeds over low heat for approximately 2 to 3 minutes or until the oil changes into a red-orange color. Stir occasionally.
When the oil is heating, the red-orange pulp that surrounds the annatto seeds gets extracted into the oil, changing the color of the oil. When the oil has a bright red orange color, the annatto oil is ready.
Do not overheat. As a result, the oil will turn dark red and have a bitter taste.
Straining the Annatto Oil!
Remove saucepan from heat and carefully strain oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a glass bowl.
Shake the sieve to completely drain the oil into the glass bowl. Discard the used annatto seeds.
The beautiful red-orange color oil can now be used to add color to your favorite Caribbean dish.
Our parents would pour the prepared oil into a glass jar (cover with lid) and store the sealed jar in the kitchen pantry for up to 2 weeks. Because they prepared meals on a daily basis, it was consumed within a few days.
Click on the button below to watch my YouTube video on How to Make Annatto Oil (Aceite con Achiote)!
Recipe and Nutritional Facts
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. Please refer to our Nutritional Facts Disclaimer for more information.Print
Annatto oil is made from annatto seeds, rusty-red dried seeds, from the tropical America Tree (Bixa Orellana) and is used to add color to many tropical dishes.
- 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup annatto seeds
- Heat olive oil over low heat into a 1-quart saucepan. Add annatto seeds. Stir well.
- Cook over low heat until the oil changes into a red-orange color, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Stir occasionally. Do not overheat.
- Remove saucepan from heat and carefully strain oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a dish. Discard the used annatto seeds.
- Pour into a glass jar and cover with lid. Store for up to 2 weeks.
You can also use the oil of your preference.
Keywords: Annatto Oil