cup annatto seeds

1 cup vegetable oil or lard

  1. Sift the seeds in a colander to get rid of any dust or leaf particles.
  1. Heat the oil or lard in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the annatto seeds and reduce the heat to low.  Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the oil or lard is tinged a deep orange annatto color.  Do not use high heat as this makes it bitter.
  1. Strain and let cool.  Refrigerate covered and use as needed in recipes.  It lasts indefinitely in the icebox.

NOTES:  If the seeds are of high quality, and only low heat was used, they can be cooked once more.  Annatto oil or lard can be bought in jars at Latin American specialty stores or at some supermarkets.