Annatto seed is an orange-red condiment and food coloring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree native to tropical regions from Mexico to Brazil. It is often used to impart a yellow or orange color to foods, but sometimes also for its flavor and aroma
Used extensively in Mexican kitchens, annatto seeds are often used to make achiote oil, which is used in rice dishes and stews. To make achiote oil, cook annatto seeds in hot oil until their skin dissolves. Once the oil turns bright yellow, discard the seeds and use the oil for cooking. The seeds can also be made into adobo paste – grind them with garlic and any variety of chili pepper. Annatto seed makes a much cheaper substitute for saffron’s golden coloring; but it does not replicate saffron’s distinct flavor.
What are the effects of Annatto seed?
– Prevent cancer
– Treatment of gastric reflux
– Great antioxidant
– Improve the digestive system
– Control blood sugar
How to use Annatto
Annatto has been used for centuries for various purposes.
It was traditionally used for body paint, as sunscreen, as an insect repellent, and to treat disorders, such as heartburn, diarrhea, ulcers, and skin problems.
Today, it is mainly used as a natural food color and for its flavor profile.
For example, this natural food additive is present in various industrial foods, such as cheese, butter, margarine, custard, cakes, and baked goods.
In many areas of the world, annatto seeds are ground into a paste or powder and combined with other spices or seeds in various dishes. As such, it is a key ingredient in cochinita pibil, a traditional Mexican slow-roasted pork dish.
Compared to artificial food colorings, annatto provides antioxidants and has other benefits.
Plus, its seeds can be used to make essential oils used in aromatherapy and may have antibacterial effects.
However, it’s important to note that essential oils are meant to be inhaled or applied to the skin. They should not be swallowed as this can be harmful.
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