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Annato Seeds

$5.25
Weight:
2.00 Ounces
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Product Description

Annatto may be better known to Mexican and Latin markets as achiote. Annatto seed comes from a shrub indigenous to the Caribbean and Central America, with shiny heart-shaped leaves, sometimes with reddish veins. It has an attractive pink flower which made it popular as a hedge plant in colonial gardens. The fruit capsule or pod is heart-shaped, with red prickly spines. When ripe the pod splits in half and reveals about fifty seeds in a red pulp. The pulp is used in many commercial dye products. Annatto seeds are brick red, triangular in shape. The seeds are available whole and can often be purchased in a block or paste form at Latin American markets as Achiote Condimente.

When used in cooking they may be added directly to a cooking liquid or infused in hot water until the desired color is obtained and then used for stocks or coloring rice. To make a Annatto oil it is used by frying the seeds in oil for a few minutes, then discard the seeds and use the oil. It has long been used to color confectionery, butter, smoked fish and cheeses like Cheshire, Leicester, Edam and Muenster. It is widely used in the Caribbean and Latin America, especially Guatemalan, Mayan and Mexican cuisines. Interestingly, the seeds are also used in Filipino cuisine.

Annatto was once used to control fevers, dysentery and kidney diseases, though is now used mostly as a dye in medical preparations such as ointments and plasters. In India, the pulp is used as an insect repellent.

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