Annatto is the seed or extract from the achiote tree, which is indigenous to Latin and South America. Annatto is used heavily in Central and South America as a dye, medicine, and as an ingredient in many foods.
Annatto is a naturally intense dye which can range in color from bright yellow to deep orange. Many commercially made food products utilize annatto for its potent color (Food Reference, nd).
Although uncommon, some people with peanut or nut sensitivities report having reactions to annatto. If you believe you are allergic to annatto, contact your allergist (Food Allergies, nd).
Annatto’s flavor can be described as earthy, musky, and slightly peppery. Annatto seeds are usually steeped in oil or ground to a powder prior to adding to recipes, rather than adding the seeds whole. Annatto is a key flavor component in many Latin and South American dishes. Annatto can also be used for coloring foods (Food Reference, nd).
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Here are some tips on what to do with annatto.