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Bixin, the major apocarotinoid of annatto

Annatto, sometimes called Roucou, is a derivative of the achiote trees of tropical regions of the Americas, used to produce a red food coloring and also as a flavoring. It scent is described as "slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg" and flavor as "slightly sweet and peppery"[1].

Annatto is produced from the reddish pulp which surrounds the seed of the achiote (Bixa orellana L.). It is used in many cheeses (e.g., Cheddar, Red Leicester, and Brie), margarine, butter, rice, smoked fish and custard powder.

Bixa orellana seeds

Annatto is commonly found in Latin America and Caribbean cuisines as both a coloring agent and for flavoring. Central and South American Natives used the seeds to make a body paint, and lipstick. For this reason, the achiote is sometimes called the lipstick-tree.

In Venezuela, annatto (called locally 'onoto') is used in the preparation of hallacas, perico, and other traditional dishes.

In Brazil, both annatto (the product) and the tree (Bixa orellana L.) are called Urucum and the product itself may also be called Colorau.

In Cuba and other Caribbean islands, both fruit and tree are popularly called Bija (pronounced bee-ha) instead of Bixa.

It is a major ingredient in the popular spice blend Sazón made by Goya Foods.

As a food additive, annatto has the E number E160b.


References and Sources for Further Reading

  • Template:Grocers
  • The Herb Book, John Lust (Bantam Books, New York, USA, 1984)
  • Cooking With Spices, Carolyn Heal & Michael Allsop (David & Charles, Vermont, USA 1983)
  • The Book of Spices, F. Rosengarten Jr. (Livingston Publishing Co. , Penn., USA, 1969)

Template:Herbs & spicesTemplate:Ingredient-stub

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