Okay, you all had so many questions about Achiote, so here we go.
A few choice facts from Wikipedia:
• Achiote is a shrub or small tree from the tropical region of the Americas. The name derives from the Nahuatl word for the shrub, achiotl.
• It is best known as the source of the natural pigment annatto, produced from the fruit. The plant bears pink flowers and bright red spiny fruits which contain red seeds. The fruits dry and harden to brown capsules.
• While it has a distinct flavor of its own, it can be used to color and flavor rice instead of the much more expensive saffron.
• The seeds are ground and used as a subtly flavored and colorful additive in Latin American, Jamaican and Filipino cuisine.
Here is what they look like in the package:
Every Latino market I’ve been to has these in the spice section. It might be a different brand name, but they’ll have it.
Here is what they look like out of the package:
The Achiote Molido (powder) you use just like any other spice – just sprinkle it in while cooking. The Achiote Entero is different. You have to extract the flavor/color from it first. There are different methods but I usually make Achiote Oil.
Simply put a few tablespoons of cooking oil in a small pot over medium heat. Mix in about a tablespoon of the Achiote Entero. Mix while it’s cooking and watch the color of the oil. You will see it turn sort of yellow-ish, then orange-ish, and when it starts to turn from orange to red, remove from heat! … Do not allow the Achiote to turn black (burn) – that means you cooked it too long. It only takes a minute or two to cook.
Once the oil has cooled, you can remove the Achiote by pouring the oil through a sieve into a jar, or by simply fishing them out with a spoon. You can use the oil right away or store it, (though I don’t know if this should be stored in the cabinet or refrigerator or for how long it will keep. I always use mine right away.)
Alright, chicas, I hope you appreciated this post. My Suegra watched me take photo after photo of Achiote. If she didn’t think I was a weird gringa before, she certainly does now.