Author Topic: Annatto seeds  (Read 2344 times)

Offline padams

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Annatto seeds
« on: April 29, 2010, 02:49:33 PM »
I found annatto seeds and powder in my grocery's mexican spice section!  Question....how would I turn it into dye now? 

I found directions on making an oil-based infusion....but that wouldn't work for cheese, would it?
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Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: Annatto seeds
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2010, 03:02:29 PM »
Pinch them REALLY hard between your fingers. >:D
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Offline padams

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Re: Annatto seeds
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2010, 03:10:27 PM »
hehehe...... ;)
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Annatto seeds
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2010, 03:16:53 PM »
LOL sailor.

Padams, if you really want to know how they make the dye commercially, the process converts the natural dye (bixin), which is oil loving, into one that is soluble in water as a potassium or sodium salt. You take annatto seeds, grind them up, and add ethyl acetate, swirl it around and let it sit so the oils are extracted. Then you add lye (either sodium or potassium lye) and cook the whole thing in a pressure cooker. You'll get the water soluble salt this way, which you can then decant and take water out of to concentrate.

Like you already found, the easy way is to make the oil based infusion, and as you said, it doesn't work well. You'd need to do the conversion to make it a water soluble salt.
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Offline padams

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Re: Annatto seeds
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2010, 11:18:04 AM »
Yikes!!! And that stuff goes in cheese?!? 

I kinda followed your recipe for other natural colorings that I found here.  I dumped the whole lot of them in a small pot, covered with water, and simmered until most of the pulp was off the seed.  strained that liquid into a jar.  it's pretty red! (and my hands are orange!)

I got all the debris, so I won't have all the little flecks like i did with yesterdays' 1 qt jack experiment.  So, I am going to try some of it today in my 2gal jack.

Linux, you really make a good argument for NEVER eating another processed food again!
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Annatto seeds
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2010, 11:45:38 AM »
LOL. By the time you get the water soluble salt, there's no ethyl acetate left. It's not that bad, really. Some of the other mystery foods, though...

If you hydrolyze the bixin through heat/pressure without using a helper to extract, you'll get a bunch of dye, it just won't be as concentrated or efficient. So that's a good way to do it at home.

As an aside, I do get a kick out of the organic, all-natural types (like me), who make cheese and who take pride in that there are no fake additives in the cheese, and that the rennet is not animal rennet and the salt was mined from the 80 trillion old deposits on the moons of pluto and all that, and don't realize how annatto is extracted, or how rennet is produced from mold growing in giant fermentation tanks. Nothing wrong with having an all-natural outlook, it's just there's  little chance of completely escaping modern science and food production techniques. We have to learn to love at least part of the bomb. :)

But seriously, ethyl acetate isn't that bad. It's the ester product of alcohol and acetic acid. It's not that different from putting lemon rinds into alcohol to extract the flavor for limoncello and limoncito.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2010, 12:20:42 PM by linuxboy »
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Offline padams

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Re: Annatto seeds
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2010, 03:24:38 PM »
Ah!  Well, when you put it that way, it's not so bad!  Where are you getting your pluto salt....I haven't been able find any of that!  >:D

Soaking in alcohol is how i make vanilla, without any sugar syrup or other additions.  I have quite a few people that prefer it to store vanilla.
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Annatto seeds
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2010, 03:43:23 PM »
I get my Pluto salt from Whole Foods. It's certified biodynamic gathered by single mother worker ants who gather it grain by grain in their employee-owned company, which sponsors a trip every year to the outer reaches of the Kuiper belt.  :P

That's how I make my vanilla, too. I use a mix of Madagascar and Haitian beans. Sooo good. Has a lovely balance of flavor and aroma.
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Offline coffee joe

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Re: Annatto seeds
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2010, 04:05:34 PM »
Annatto powder that you found in your Mexican grocery is most likely a corn flour method of extracting. The seeds are placed in a spinning drum with the flour and something heavy like a smooth rock and the color is transfered to the flour. I have seen very large versions of Mortar and Pestle to do the same job.

Beyond using serious organic chemistry, this is the method used around the world. The interior of the seed has no coloring. Only a light cover on each seed.

Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Annatto seeds
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2010, 01:01:01 PM »
Realy I didn't kow that so only the outter pod is used for coloring. Good to know If I find seeds.


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Offline coffee joe

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Re: Annatto seeds
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2010, 08:16:34 PM »
There are as many as a hundred seeds in a single pod. the color is a very fine powder on the exterior of the seed. I have used butter fat to extract a coloring agent for cheese but it is very weak so I just don't bother any more with coloring.  In Brazil, it is known as Urucum, you may find some info under this name. I can grow wherever oranges  can so if you live in that type of climate, the seeds you find in a store will grow. It is a tree about the same size as an orange tree.