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All About Achiote | Know Your Spice Annatto (Bixa orellana)

All About Achiote | Know Your Spice Annatto (Bixa orellana)

All About Achiote | Know Your Spice Annatto (Bixa orellana)

All About Achiote | Know Your Spice Annatto (Bixa orellana)

Achiote (Bixa orellana) is also known as achotillo, bija, urucum, and atsuete (Bixa orellana)

All About Achiote | Achiote is also known as Annatto (Bixa orellana)

Annatto is an orange-red food coloring or condiment made from the seeds of the achiote tree (Bixa orellana), which grows in tropical regions in South and Central America.

It’s most commonly used as a natural food coloring, as it imparts a bright color that ranges from yellow to deep orange-red, similar to saffron and turmeric.

Its color comes from compounds called carotenoids, which are pigments that are found in the seed’s outer layer and many other fruits and vegetables, such as carrots and tomatoes.

Additionally, annatto is used as a condiment to enhance the flavor of dishes due to its slightly sweet and peppery taste.

What are the other names of Achiote?

Annatto names in other languages are given below.

Achiote is not known in India as Sindoor as claimed by many internet articles. Sindoor is traditional vermillion.

Indian Languages Other Languages
Bengali: –
Punjabi: –
Tamil: Kongaram, Sappira
Telugu: –
Kannada: Kunkumada gida
Hindi – Sinduriya, Latkan
Marathi: Sendri
Latin (Botanical): Bixa orellana
English: Achiote, Lipstick tree
German: Annatto, Orleanstrauch
Portuguese: Anato, Urucum
Spanish: Achote, Annatto, Achiote
Tagalog: Achuete, Achwete, Atsuete
Arabic: Atshiut

What exactly is Achiote?

Get to know about Annatto

Spice card – all about achiote | know your spice annatto (bixa orellana)

Annatto belongs to a family of plants known as Bixaceae or Achiote family.

Its scientific name is Bixa orellana.

Bixa orellana is a perennial, tall shrub that can reach 6–10 m (20–33 ft) high.

The fruits of the Bixa orellana are globular, ovoid capsules arranged in clusters resembling spiky looking red-brown seed pods covered in soft spines.

When fully mature, the pod dries, hardens, and splits open, exposing the seeds.

The shrub is most well known as the source of the red-orange, annatto pigment.

The pigment is derived from the pericarp (the waxy aril layer that covers the seeds) of the Bixa orellana fruit.

What is the botanical description of Achiote?

Botanical information of Annatto

Botanics – The evergreen shrub Achiote  is a member of the Bixaceae or achiote family. Bixaceae is a genus of three genera and a total of 25 species.

It is considered indigenous to Brazil, South and Central America.

It is also widely cultivated in Tropical countries such as Mexico, Peru, Indonesia, Ecuador, Kenya, India and East Africa.

The shrub has shiny heart-shaped leaves, sometimes with reddish veins and attractive pink flowers. This made it popular as a hedge plant in colonial gardens.

Annatto seeds are brick red, triangular in shape, 3 to 5 mm (1/8” – 3/16”).

What is the nutrition value of Achiote?

Know the nutritional value of Achiote or Annatto

The nutrition value of Achiote: 11.50% protein, 6.74% moisture, 5.22% ash, 2.22% lipids, 42.19% total carbohydrates and 28.45% fiber.

The most abundant minerals found in annatto are potassium and sodium.

What is the chemical composition of Achiote?

Know and understand about chemical composition of Annatto.

The most abundant amino acids found in Achiote are lysine, phenylalanine + tyrosine, leucine and isoleucine. Valine was the most limiting amino acid.

    What is the history of Achiote?

    Know more about the origins & the story behind Annatto

    The annatto tree B. orellana is believed to originate in tropical regions from Mexico to Brazil.

    It was probably not initially used as a food additive. But for other purposes such as ritual and decorative body painting (still an important tradition in many Brazilian native tribes, such as the Wari’), sunscreen, and insect repellent, and for medical purposes.

    It was used for Mexican manuscript painting in the 16th century.

    Annatto has been traditionally used as both a coloring and flavoring agent in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Philippines, and other countries where it was taken home by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 16th century.

    It has various local names according to region.

    Its use has spread in historic times to other parts of the world, and it was incorporated in local culinary traditions of many countries outside the Americas.

    Achiote plants and seeds were brought to Asia from Mexico in the 17th century through Sephardic Jewish trade routes.

    Annatto seeds and plants from Portuguese, French, and Dutch colonies in Martinique seem to have spread more quickly across the Old World.

    This trade route can be traced via traditional recipes in Jamaican, Filipino, and Vietnamese cuisine, where the Caribbean name for the seed and plant, Annatto and Bija, is more widely used than the Latin name Achiotl.

    The use of Annatto seeds to dye food began when settlers arrived in the Americas and could not find saffron to use as coloring in their recipes.

    Annatto seeds were soon referred to as ‘poor man’s saffron,’ and their popularity in Europe grew immensely, leading to the commercial cultivation of the spice in India by 1787.

    What are the uses of Achiote?

    How is annatto used?
    • Central America, Africa, Sri Lanka, South America, Caribbean and India are the main producers commercially.
    • In body care products, annatto oil provides antioxidant benefits while adding a rich, sunny colour to creams, lotions and shampoos.
    • Seeds were used by American natives to make lipstick and red body paint.
    • It is used as a food coloring for adding yellow or orange color to cheese, butter, cakes, sausages, baked goods, snack foods, potatoes, smoked fish, breakfast cereals and popcorn.
    • It is used to form paste and powder used in Filipino, Chamorro, Jamaican and Latin American cuisines.
    • It is used for sauce of pancit in Philippines.
    • The seeds are grounded or used to make annatto oil.
    • Annatto preparations are also used in makeup products and in textile industries.
    • Grounded seeds are added to stews and soups.
    • Meat is also marinated with annatto colored seasonings.
    • Apart from being used as a fabric dye, Annatto is also used in household products such as floor wax, furniture polish and shoe polish.
    • While it is mainly the seeds that are used by indigenous people for non-medicinal purposes, the whole achiote plant is used in traditional medicine.
    • Traditional healers in Colombia also use annatto as antivenom in cases of snakebite.

    What does Achiote taste like?

    What is the the taste of Annatto?

    it is so hard that you may struggle to grind it up in your spice grinder. Even cooking annatto seeds won’t make much difference.


    Health benefits of annatto (bixa orellana)


    What can I use Achiote for?

    Learn how to use Annatto in your food & beverages.
    • Make annatto oil to give foods annatto distinctive shade.
    • Use as a food coloring to impart a yellow or orange tint.
    • Use for baking to enhance the color of fillings, frostings, gels, sugar cones, wafer biscuits.
    • Use annatto paste and oil for marinades.
    • Annatto pigments can be used for in cheese, dairy products, cereal-derived products, sweets, beverages, sauces, and sausages.
    • They are also used in products like margarines, vegetable creams, cheese, and icecream.
    • In the Caribbean, the seeds are usually fried in (animal or vegetable) fat; after discarding the seeds, the then golden-yellow fat is used to fry vegetables or meat.
    • Mexican cooks often use a paste (achiote) of annatto seeds with some preservatives (acetic acid) that dissolves completely in hot fat.
    • In South México (Yucatán), meat is often marinated with a spice mixture called recado that derives its vibrantly yellow colour from liberal addition of annatto.
    • Baking poultry and fish in a hot oven, pan-frying or grilling is also possible with annatto.
    • In the Philippines, achiote seeds are often ground to a powder and added to soups and stews; meat is often marinated with annatto-coloured seasonings.
    • In Vietnam, batters are often prepared with annatto oil to achieve a more attractive colour; annatto oil is also common for improving the colour of coconut-based curries.

    How long does Achiote last?

    Learn about how long does annatto last in storage.

    Both seeds and ground achiote will keep for a long time. With proper storage, achiote can be good for up to three years.

    How do I store Achiote?

    Learn about how to store annatto.

    Store it dry in an airtight glass container and a dark cabinet away from the light. Achiote oil will keep a few months when stored in a glass container in the refrigerator.

    Is there a substitute for Achiote?

    Learn how to use a substitute for annatto if unavailable
    • Like annatto seeds, safflower provides a brilliant yellow color to dishes and this is mainly what makes it an excellent annatto seed substitute.
    • A combination of paprika and turmeric is a workable alternative to achiote seeds.

    Where do I buy Achiote from?

    Where to Locate Achiote in the Grocery Store?

    Spice aisles in some Asian and most Mexican stores in the USA will have annatto readily available. Online Amazon however, overcomes availability issues for most. Links are below :)

    What are the health benefits of Achiote?

    Learn about health benefits of Achiote or Bixa orellana

    Health Benefits of Achiote (Bixa orellana) or Benefits of Annatto

    • Health Benefits of Achiote as an Antioxidant & Antimicrobial – Annatto, due to its powerful antioxidants, possesses antimicrobial properties and it can kill various pathogens, and bacteria in the body.
    • Health Benefits of Annatto for Digestion – The high level of fiber found in annatto seeds, as well as the edible leaves of the achiote plant, is good for digestion. It promotes the smooth passage of food through the bowels and the efficient uptake of nutrients.
    • Health Benefits of Achiote for ImmunityPrimordial medicinal practices recommended the chewing of Achiote leaves or drinking the tea prepared with these leaves, for enhancing the immunity of a person.
    • Health Benefits of Annatto for Digestive Problems – Achiote is an excellent remedy for treating digestive problems like colic, intestinal gas and indigestion. Many physicians prescribe it for curing anorexia as it is known to stimulate the digestive as well as the nervous system.
    • Health Benefits of Achiote for Eyesight The high carotenoid content, present in annatto, functions as antioxidants in your ocular system and prevent the development of cataracts, while also staving off macular degeneration, keeping your vision strong for years.
    • Health Benefits of Annatto for Skincare – Tocotrienols, present in annatto, act as antioxidants, which is one of the reasons that it is so sought after for the treatment of the skin.
    • Health Benefits of Achiote for Wounds – Annatto seed paste can be applied to speed the healing process of wounds.
    • Health Benefits of Annatto for Breathing – Annatto seeds have expectorant properties. Therefore, they are used to prevent mucus-related disorders like coughs, asthma, and bronchitis. It also clears the mucus from the lungs.
    • Health Benefits of Achiote for Liver – Annatto seeds help balance, detoxify, metabolize, and strengthen the liver. It also helps to reduce liver inflammation. Scientists have shown the role of bixin in destroying the harmful free radicals in the liver.

    All About Achiote | Know Your Spice Annatto (Bixa orellana)
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    Annatto Oil / Achiote Oil / Dau Mau Dieu Recipe from Vietnam

    Annatto Oil / Achiote Oil / Dau Mau Dieu Recipe from Vietnam - Annatto Oil is an essential ingredient in many Asian and Latin dishes. Mild tasting and fragrant, the infused achiote oil adds vibrant orange-red color to your dishes. 
    Course Condiment
    Cuisine Vietnamese
    Diet Diabetic, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
    Keyword Achiote, Achiote Oil, Achiote Oil Recipe, Annatto, Annatto Oil, Annatto Oil Recipe, Dau Mau Dieu, Dau Mau Dieu Recipe, Homemade Achiote Oil, Homemade Annatto Oil
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 5 minutes
    Total Time 10 minutes
    Servings 5 Servings
    Calories 80kcal
    Author Sumit Malhotra

    Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup Vegetable oil Peanut oil is preferred
    • 5 teaspoon Annatto Seeds Achiote Seeds

    Instructions

    • Rinse annatto seeds with cold water.
    • Drain & transfer to a paper towel to dry for 15 minutes.
    • Add the vegetable oil to a saucepan and heat over medium flame.
    • Throw in the annatto seeds and stir well till the oil turns deep red.
    • After cooking for 3 minutes, turn off the heat.
    • Continue stirring and for another 2 minutes till the oil is still hot.
    • Remove from the stove and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
    • Strain the oil & bottle.

    Notes

    • Use a mild or neutral vegetable oil for this recipe. Peanut oil works very well.
    • Be careful during cooking as the seeds and oil will stain any porous material.
    • Do not overcook the achiote seeds because burnt seeds will result in a bitter taste.
    • The colour of annatto oil and my chilli oil with bhut jolokia  is almost the same, the taste however is immensely different. Both oils are made with peanut or groundnut oil.

    Tools & Equipment Used For This Recipe

    The links below the image lead to product links on Amazon.in & Amazon.com respectively

    FInally! To Sum It Up

    All About Achiote (Bixa orellana) | Benefits of Achiote

    Spice card – all about achiote | know your spice annatto (bixa orellana)

    All About Achiote | Achiote is also known as Annatto (Bixa orellana)

    Annatto is an orange-red food coloring or condiment made from the seeds of the achiote tree (Bixa orellana), which grows in tropical regions in South and Central America.

    It’s most commonly used as a natural food coloring, as it imparts a bright color that ranges from yellow to deep orange-red, similar to saffron and turmeric.

    Its color comes from compounds called carotenoids, which are pigments that are found in the seed’s outer layer and many other fruits and vegetables, such as carrots and tomatoes.

    Additionally, annatto is used as a condiment to enhance the flavor of dishes due to its slightly sweet and peppery taste.

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