Annatto seed, or Achiote Seed is a small. red color seed, which is grown around the world. They are used as a natural food coloring in items like cheese, butter, margarine, oils and rice dishes. The oil from the seeds adds a golden to reddish color. They have a peppery flavor with hints of nutmeg. They are used in seed, ground, paste and oil form in Mexican, Latin & South American and Caribbean cooking, as well as in the Philippines and Portugal.
In Caribbean cooking, the oil is used to flavor chicken, fish, meats, rice, tamales and vegetables. In Peru, Brazil and other South American countries, Achiote Seeds are used in marinades for beef and pork dishes. In Venezuela they’re used to make Aliño Criollo, which is a seasoning blend and used as a chicken rub. In Belize and the Oaxacan & Yucatan regions of Mexico, they are made into Achiote Paste along with other spices and used as a rub to season pork, chicken and fish dishes.
The seeds can be ground and added to soups and stews or made into a paste to be spread on fish or pork before grilling. It’s a tough process to work with annatto, as the dried seeds are very hard and quite difficult to grind.
To make annatto oil, heat the seeds with grape seed, or other neutral oil until it reaches the desired color. Strain out the seeds and refrigerate the unused oil.
To make a paste, cover seeds with water and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for a couple of hours to allow the seeds to soften. Drain and pat dry using a paper towel. Grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder until paste consistency. Add your spices according to your recipe. Store any unused paste in the refrigerator.
Contains: Annatto Seed (Achiote Seed)
There are many Achiote Paste recipes, here is one example:
Makes ½ cup
¼ Cup Annatto Seeds
2 Teaspoons Coriander Seeds
2 Teaspoons Cumin Seeds
2 Teaspoons Dried Mexican Oregano
1 Teaspoon Black Peppercorns
3 Whole Cloves
1 Bay Leaf
1 Teaspoon Kosher Sea Salt
4 Garlic Cloves
¼ Cup Distilled White Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Finely Grated Lime Zest
1 Teaspoon Finely Grated Orange Zest
Blend annatto seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, oregano, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf, and salt in a blender on low speed, increasing to high, until finely ground. Add garlic, vinegar, lime zest, and orange zest. Continue blending until a coarse paste forms. Transfer to a small airtight container and chill.