CategoryHerbs and spices

Cookbook | Recipes | Ingredients | Spices and herbs

Annatto, also called onoto or achiote, is a spice and food coloring made from the seeds of the South American achiote tree.[1]

Characteristics edit

Annatto seeds grow inside the spiky pod of the achiote tree and have a red color.[1][2] The mature seeds are harvested, after which they can be dried and powdered, processed into a paste, or steeped in oil or water.[1][3] Theses seed extracts lend a yellow-orange color to foods.[1][2]

In addition to their vibrant color, annato seeds also have a mild peppery and musky flavor.[1][3] These flavors are largely derived from its terpene family and caryophyllene content.[2]

Selection and storage edit

Annatto powder has a long shelf life (up to a couple years) when stored in an airtight container away from light and heat.[1] The paste and oil have a shorter shelf life, remaining good on the order of weeks to months when stored in the fridge.[1][3]

If you cannot find any annatto, a substitute can be made by combining equal parts of ground turmeric and paprika to approximate its color and flavor profile.[3]

Use edit

Annatto is widely used in Central/South American cuisines, as well as in those of the Caribbean and the Philippines.[1][3] The traditional Venezuelan dishes hallaca and perico use annatto in their preparation.

Due to its potency as a colorant, annatto is frequently used in many foods to give them a yellow-orange color. Various cheeses, condiments, beverages, and snacks contain it. For example, annatto gives cheddar and red leicester their colour, and it helps tint butter and margarine yellow.[1]

Whole annatto seeds are rarely used in dishes; instead, the seeds are either steeped in water or oil to release their flavor and color.[1][2] More seeds are needed to infuse water, since the water-soluble compounds are less abundant.[2] Ground annatto powder can be used like other powdered spices, sprinkled directly into the dish.[1] The paste can be thinned with water before mixing into a dish, and the oil can be used when cooking foods or in marinades.[1][3]

If using annatto for its flavor, consider making and/or using annatto oil, since many of its characteristic flavor compounds are primarily fat-soluble.[2]

Recipes edit

References edit

  1. a b c d e f g h i j k l "Annatto: A Natural Dye, Medicine, and Food Additive". The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 2023-12-06.
  2. a b c d e f Farrimond, Dr Stuart (2018-11-06). The Science of Spice: Understand Flavor Connections and Revolutionize Your Cooking. National Geographic Books. ISBN 978-1-4654-7557-2.
  3. a b c d e f "What Is Annatto: Storage, Substitutes, and More". Simply Recipes. Retrieved 2023-12-06.