Annatto Seed, sometimes called achiote seed, is used more for its color than for its flavor. The brick-orange seed of the achiote tree, annatto tastes delicately earthy, nutty, and mildly sweet, with a hint of pepper. It does not have a pronounced smell. Thanks to the profoundly red hue of the seeds, the achiote tree has been nicknamed “the lipstick tree” and does contribute its color to various cosmetic applications. The color comes from the interplay of bixin and norbixin, chemical compounds derived from the breakdown of carotenoids. These pigments are soluble in both oil and water, which is rare, and comprise up to 7% of the dry seed.
Americans are most familiar with Annatto Seed as the natural colorant used to produce orange cheddar cheese. Orange became the acceptable color for cheddar after dairy farmers discovered that when cows are fed fresh grass, the cheese from their milk had a vibrant yellow tone. This was due to the carotenes present in fresh grass; hay, while easier to store and use as feed, lacked the photosynthetic carotenes and produced creamy white cheeses. The public perceived the orange color to be more healthful and so, farmers dyed their cheese to perpetuate the ideal.
Tips From Our Kitchen
Soak Annatto Seed in oil to create a flavored cooking oil; this is a wonderful cooking medium for Caribbean and Mexican foods. Use it to fry the chicken in arroz con pollo, and add seeds to the water in order to give the rice its distinctive golden hue. Use the oil as a base for curry. Add Annatto Seed to a soaking liquid for a marinade, and marinate chicken or fish, and even tofu. Add judiciously; even though the flavor is mild, too much annatto can impart overwhelming earthiness that may overwhelm a dish. Annatto Seeds are extremely hard and almost impossible to grind at home. Should you want it in powdered form, we recommend that you buy Ground Annatto separately.
Our Annatto Seed is grown in India.
This product is certified kosher.
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Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*