Achiote

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:

Achiote Molido/Annatto Powder (left) and Achiote Entero/Whole Annatto (right)

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:

Achiote Entero (left), Achiote Molido (right)

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.

See the color? It's ready!

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.

13 thoughts on “Achiote

  1. I would like to ask why this blog? Why do you blog about Latina – you are a gringa married to a Latino, how long have you been married to him? Just curious.
    By the way I like cooking myself. I am Dominican, and everytime I make a recipe I tell my family “this is so and so “dominican style” LOL !! I hope am not being too nosey. Your blog is insipiring to blog.

  2. @ MCBLOPEZ – It’s a fair question y entiendo tu curiosidad.

    Okay, your first question, how long have I been married to my husband. I have been married to him for 12 years now.

    As for why I blog about Latinidad when I’m Anglo – this is not so easy to answer!

    I explain a little about this on my “About” page if you haven’t read it:

    http://latinaish.wordpress.com/about/

    But, I will go into further detail.

    Okay now, being Latino/a is not just a blood thing. As you know Latinos can be white/Spanish, black, brown/mestizo/indígena/ladino, etc. It’s not about the color of your skin – it’s about a shared culture and language. ¿Está de acuerdo?

    A shared culture makes being Latino more of an “ethnicity” porque no es una raza homogénea.

    So, if I speak as much Spanish each day as I do English, cook food from Latin America just as often as “American” food, participate in Latino traditions and celebrations, not as a turista, pero porque es una parte de mi vida, read to my children in Spanish, dance to music in Spanish, (even sometimes dream in Spanish!), live in a traditional Latino household (Most Anglos do not let the Suegra live with them, or let random tios come and stay for months at a time like I do!) – how can I NOT consider myself at least partly Latina?

    So you say, “Why this blog?” – The real question is, how could it be any other blog? This is my life and anything else would be a lie. My life is perhaps not normal. Maybe I am not normal either, but I’m okay with that.

    Let me tell you a story.

    Cuando yo era niña, yo tenía un libro. El libro fue sobre un ratóncito que quería ser un pájaro. El ratóncito se fue a vivir en un nido. Trató cantar como un pájaro. Trató comer gusanos. Trató volar. Al final, se dio cuenta de que no estaba destinado a ser un pájaro y volvió a ser un ratóncito.

    Este cuento me puso triste cuando era niña. Siempre he odiado el final cuando el ratóncito regresaba a ser ratóncito. En mi opinión, el ratóncito debería haber permanecido con los pájaros. Tal vez que el ratóncito no sería realmente un pájaro, pero si él estaba feliz, entonces no hace daño a nadie para que él viva su vida como quiere.

    Tal vez me entiende un poco mejor ahora :)

  3. I don’t really agree with you. To me Latino is from blood. For me there is no such thing as Latino white or Latino Black – what I do believe is that people assimilate the culture and way of life of their spouse and take on those roles. My sister (may she rest in peace) was married to a gringo, he wasn’t Latino, although he ate plenty of platanos and danced merengue with her at family functions, that didn’t make him Latino. Anyway, I want to just thank you for answering my questions and for being so candid.
    Yo te entiendo a ti y tu vida and the reason you need to blog. About the ratoncito, si entiendo si no le hace dano a nadie pero remember que el mono aunque lo viste de seda mono se queda.
    Thanks again.

    • @MCBLOPEZ – You’re right, your brother-in-law was not Latino, but if he embraced the culture with todo el corazón, he was Latino-ish, and that is all I’m claiming to be :)

      It would be disingenuous of me to pretend I am interested in things that do not interest me just for the sake of appearing properly Anglo. I’m not concerned with fitting into anyone else’s expectations of what I “should” be. I am me, and if that makes me a strange white girl, so be it.

      I have some questions for you now, though.

      What is race? Stop and really think about this. If you believe that race is shared blood, remember that every living person today has a common ancestor from the same place – Africa. (And if you’re religious, we share Adam & Eve as common ancestors.)

      Here is more on that:

      http://science.howstuffworks.com/evolution/female-ancestor.htm

      The truth is, race is a man-made construct. I encourage you to research this and think about it.

      My second question is this… There are people who identify as “Latino” who grew up in the United States. Their first language is English. They don’t speak Spanish well, and sometimes not at all. They prefer McDonald’s to menudo and football to fútbol. They watch Law & Order instead of Sabado Gigante, and listen to Elvis Presley instead of Elvis Crespo. Now, the question: Should I chide these people for “acting white”?

      I don’t see the point. If these are their preferences, who am I to say otherwise? Who am I to tell them they don’t like the “right” things based on their appearance/heritage/blood?

      Recuerda…

      “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

  4. Mujer tranquila yo entiendo. I understand your position and all your valid points am not shooting you down because you identify with my culture more than with your own. I was just curious. Thanks again for the lengthy explanation.

    • @MCBLOPEZ – No worries – Estoy tranquila :) It’s just a topic I feel passionate about and obviously from the lengthy responses to your questions, something I enjoy discussing. Thank you for your comments and honesty. I hope to see you around.

  5. Oh Yeah Senora Lopez I can tell. :) Cool I’ll see you around and well continue to read your blog from time to time. Good Luck and again thanks for sharing.
    De Una Senora Lopez a otra, Buena Suerte

    • Hola, Hector. Bueno, no soy doctora y no puedo darte consejos porque nunca he tomado achiote entero y no sé si es médicamente seguro, pero esto leí en un artículo sobre el achiote:

      “Sus semillas son consumidas como alimento y condimento y se les atribuyen propiedades estimulantes y digestivas.”

      Puedes leer más aquí: http://www.rpan.org/principal/catalogo/3%20ACHIOTE%20r-PAN.pdf

      Pero mejor hablas con un doctor o curandera. Buena suerte!

  6. Pingback: Pasteles Salvadoreños | Latinaish

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