Annatto, ever heard of it or cooked with it? Annatto the spice is derived from the seeds of the achiote trees of tropical and subtropical regions. The seeds produce a yellow to orange color in food. The flavor is described as slightly nutty, sweet and peppery.
Annatto is used to color foods as much as flavor them. A mainstay in South American kitchens, the seeds are crushed and the powder is mixed with oil, vinegar or lemon juice to create a marinade used to flavor meats prior to grilling. Annatto is sometimes added to cornmeal dough to make red tamales or empanadas. Annatto is also marketed as “achiote,”bijol,” or “pimentГЈo doce.” Annatto is used in many traditional meat and drink recipes.
Throughout Mexico, Belize, Brazil annatto has been used in cooking and traditional medicine for ages. Annatto is a rich source of tocotrienols, an antioxidant that functions like vitamin E in the body. The tocotrienols are also thought to prevent cancer because of their anti-angiogenic effects. Annatto has been used to treat common infections in the folk medicine of South American countries. Annatto contains bioactive sesquiterpene which has anti-fungal properties.
Anchiote dye is used in many cheeses ie: cheddar, gloucester, red leicester, American cheese and Velveeta. Annatto is also used to color margarine and butter. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) considers annatto colorants to be “exempt of certification”
Achiote has long been used by American Indians to make body paint
The achiote tree has been called the вЂњlipstick treeвЂќ because of the dye it produces
Achiote dye is prepared by grinding seeds or simmering the seeds in water or oil.
Men of the tribe вЂњColoradoвЂ™sвЂќ (from Ecuador) use annatto to dye their hair.
Annato was used for Mexican manuscript painting in the sixteenth century
In India, annatto is known as “sindoor” and is considered auspicious for married women
Caution: Annatto has been linked to cases of food-related allergies but it is not one of the “Big Eight” allergens (cow’s milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat)