Annatto oil is made from annatto seeds commonly known as Atsuete or Achiote. They can be combined with any type of cooking oil. Its oil is red in color and is usually used for food coloring. It makes any kind of dish more vibrant; however, there is no effect on the taste of the food. In the Philippines, these seeds are easy to find in any location. Some locals plant atsuete trees in their backyard and use the seeds of the fruit whenever they are needed. The local markets sell these seeds in pouches at a reasonable price.
When you reside outside of the Philippines, finding these seeds can be a nightmare. Personally, I had a difficult time finding them for key ingredients in Filipino food such as Arroz valenciana and Pancit Malabon. The only way to get these seeds is at an Asian store. Most of the time, they are not available. Perhaps, if you’re living in parts of America, you can get them at a Spanish store. They are usually labeled as Achiote. When you find them, you are ready to go. Today, annatto powder is already available in a pouch in most Asian store (Philippines section). The brand name is mama sita.
Here, are the steps to make oil from annatto:
Combine at least 2 tbsp of annatto seeds in a 1/2 cup of your preferred oil. Cook over a medium heat until the bubbles start to come out. Turn off the heat and let them soak for at least 2 minutes. Do not over heat the seeds or else they will produce a bitter taste and the oil will become green. Strain the oil well. You can store the oil in a jar with the lid tightly sealed at room temperature for up to 3-4 days. The oil is now ready to use.
If you’re using an annatto powder. Combine 1/2 tsp annatto powder with 2 tbsp of your preferred oil. Stir until annatto powder diluted well. Or, dissolved 1 tbsp of annatto powder to 1/4 cup water.