Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Achiote(Annatto) Oil

Infused oils are nothing new, you can find them in any store or take a few minutes to make your own. The process is simple and you can make virtually any flavor. All you need is a bottle, any oil of your choosing, and the item you want to infuse the oil with. For this post ill just focus on the achiote oil but I also made a garlic rosemary infused olive oil that tasted divine! Achiote also known as annatto and roucou is a plant species native to South America and the Caribbean. Achiote has a taste that can simply be described as unique, It has a mix of sweet and spicy notes to it that goes well in a variety of dishes,The seeds come from a pod that is shaped like a prickly teardrop.
Achiote gives food a reddish to golden hue depending on how much you use and how you make your infusion.Boiling the seeds in water gives you a more reddish concoction and infusing in oil gives your food a golden color in my opinion. I use the water based roucou in my smoked herring primarily to give it the desired red color, the oil is used in almost everything else I cooked. I had my first encounter with achiote in Trinidad a few years ago where my aunt made me a water based liquid infused with the seeds called roucou that can be used to color food just like the oil. Now...don't get confused. Achiote, roucou, and annatto is the same thing, different regions just refer to it differently. Achiote seeds are available in most international food sections of supermarkets or available for order online. For this recipe I'll just give the process without exact measurements because you can make any quantity you want to suit your need.

Achiote Oil
Achiote seeds
Vegetable/Canola Oil

- Measure out ingredients so that for every cup of oil you have 1tbsp achiote seeds.
- Put saucepot over low heat with amount of oil and seeds to be used.
- Cook oil over low heat stirring occasionally.
- When oil reaches a beautiful sunset red/orange color and seeds have darkened you can remove pot from heat.
- After oil has cooled, strain the seeds out and funnel into bottle to be stored in.
- Store at room temp or in refrigerator if concerned about pathogens.

**I had 2.5 cups of achiote oil stored at room temp for just over three weeks with no spoilage. I am no food scientist so keep refrigerated for a 3 week maximum if you have concerns. 

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