Other names – Bixa orellana or “fondant tree»
– shrub or small tree with large glossy leaves.
Pink five-petal small flowers with many stamens in bloom
one day. Fruits are bright red prickly dry capsules
with contained red seeds.
Annatto spread throughout the world from the tropics of the American continent. Its also
cultivated in Southeast Asia, where the Spaniards brought it at 17
The plant became known due to the red pigment contained
in seeds and widely used as a food coloring that
alternative to similar synthetic products. This dye
obtained by extracting it from seeds and used in powder or
English name of the plant lipstick tree (in translation
– lipstick) is explained by the unique coloring properties
American Indians painted body paint with annatus paint, and war paint
both frightened the enemy and protected from mosquitoes and mosquitoes.
In Ecuador, there is still a small tribe of Indians who
are called red for the fact that they literally shine with annata paint
from hair to feet. According to the beliefs of the representatives of this tribe,
a scarlet hue – a symbol of blood – is endowed with truly magical properties.
The Aztecs mixed Annatto seeds with cocoa in order to obtain
specific taste and more pleasant shade of chocolate. In the 17th century
merchants brought a large batch of Annatto to Europe, as the first vegetable
dye. Since then, the plant has been used as a food coloring.
How to choose
The choice is brick-red annatto seeds of a triangular shape,
to obtain a rich shade, a taste reminiscent of the taste of pepper,
as well as a scent with notes of nutmeg
How to store
Plant seeds should be stored in a dark place in a sealed container.
Due to the temperature resistance, the dye of the annatto plant does not
is lost during prolonged heat treatment of various dishes,
on the contrary, it is able to change shades, which allows you to play with
the resulting color. Moreover, since the coloring properties are similar
the properties of popular spices such as turmeric,
saffron and safflower, then annatto can also be used in dishes,
where the listed spices are used.
Also, in addition to the universal coloring properties, annatto also has a special
aroma. True, the smell of these seeds can hardly please the experienced
public, floral-peppery, slightly sour, it does not differ
expressiveness, but the bittersweet taste is bright enough,
to have an independent meaning, like a spice.
For culinary use, annatto is washed and dried
separate from the pulp. The reddish seed is used to give a rich
color and delicate floral scent to various dishes. So annatto
used to flavor vegetable dishes: beans,
tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins,
pepper, as well as to make the oil red or orange,
margarine, smoked fish and cheese.
Plant seeds can be infused in hot enough water until
until the color reaches the desired saturation. This water also
can be used with legumes or rice. Seeds
annatto is also often added to meat marinades, mainly
Due to this, the meat gets a pleasant taste and rich color.
Various sauces are also colored with seeds. In addition, often in
cooking oil is used with annatto.
Despite the fact that the calorie content of annatto seeds is quite high,
but since they are only used in the form of spices and dyes
in small quantities, they can be safely used even by those who
monitors his figure.
Nutritional value of seeds per 100 grams:
Proteins, g Fats, g Carbohydrates, g Ash, g Water, g Calorie content, kcal 15,8 14,9 52,3 1 – 345
Useful properties of annatto seeds
Composition and presence of nutrients
Annatto seeds contain flavonoids and alkaloids. Due to the presence
The flavonoid plant is often used as a diuretic.
In addition, annatto has antirheumatic,
as well as anti-inflammatory properties.
Once the seeds were used to treat fever, various diseases
kidney and dysentery.
Today it is mainly used as a colorant.
various medications, plasters, various ointments.
Various parts of the plant are used in the treatment of the effects of burns,
sunstroke and headache.
Useful and healing properties
Annatto has different therapeutic properties: antiseptic, astringent,
emollient, antioxidant, antibacterial, expectorant.
The seeds are used to treat various diseases, such as: smallpox,
stomach diseases, kidney diseases, dysentery, as an antipyretic,
slightly laxative and astringent. The pulp is used for compresses.
The leaves of the plant are used to treat the respiratory system,
for discomfort in the throat, pain in the kidneys, vaginal and skin inflammation
and infections, fever, hypertension, diarrhea,
vomiting blood, hemorrhoids,
abscess, angina pectoris, headache and conjunctivitis.
Crushed or boiled leaves are used to control vomiting,
and also as an antidote for complex poisoning with cassava, which
contains hydrocyanic acid.
The infusion of leaves is used by women for vaginal flushing, which
considered to be a very effective remedy against bacteria-induced
and inflammation fungi.
Fruits and seeds are also used for headaches. And the infusion of leaves
or dry extract is widely used for prevention and treatment
such an ailment as prostatitis.
Use in kitchens around the world
Nowadays, the plant is found in all tropics, but the main
Brazil and Peru remain exporters. And the main consumers
Mexico and Guatemala remain.
In Latin American cuisine, annatto is used to flavor
and coloring drinks, as a seasoning are added to dishes
from turkey, chicken, fish, shrimp.
And in Venezuela, annatto is an important component of the traditional Christmas
dishes called Find.
The Spaniards, who were the first to reach the homeland of annatto, appreciated it
deservedly and taken away along with other gifts of the continent: tomato,
paprika, potatoes, chocolate, vanilla. And then they re-cultivated
in Southeast Asia, where the plant not only took root well in
land, but also got used to the cuisine, especially the Philippines and partly Vietnam
In Europe, the American spice did not gain much popularity,
although in english
kitchens has found itself a fairly limited use for
coloring some popular cheeses. But in Latin cuisine
America’s annatto is included in local pickles, condiments and quite widely
are used in the preparation of various dishes and drinks. So, in the southern
Mexico cook meat baked in banana leaves, marinated
pre-paste recadowhich is done with the obligatory
the presence of annatto seeds.
Bright aromatic oil is popular in Caribbean cuisine
with annatto. To do this, the seeds are fried in oil for 5 minutes (1 tsp.
seeds in 4 tablespoons of grape seed oil), then
the seeds are removed and the tinted oil of the beautiful
orange. The finished oil can be stored in a glass bottle
or a bank. By the way, you can use other vegetable oils as well.
In Filipino cuisine, annatto is used in such traditional dishes,
as ukoy (sweet potato pancakes with shrimps), pee
with pork in annat oil) and Kari Kari (vegetable stew
In order to fully appreciate the culinary properties of the spice
you can use it to cook a spicy popular in Mexican
kitchen mix known by the names achiote paste or recado.
Here is its composition:
- 3 tbsp. annato;
- 1 tbsp. coriander, oregano;
- 1 tsp. cumin, black / Jamaican pepper, salt;
- 3 pcs. carnations;
- 5 cloves of garlic;
- 4 tablespoons orange / lime / vinegar juice.
All ingredients are ground into a homogeneous paste, getting a marinade,
which is used to rub meat, cut into portions. Processed
so the meat is kept for a while, and then wrapped with palm
leaves and baked.
Dangerous properties of annatto seeds
The root of the plant is completely contraindicated for ingestion, brewing
from it tea or infusion, take as a dietary supplement in the form
powder, as it causes quite severe liver poisoning
(hepatotoxic effect). There are false recommendations that
claim the beneficial effects of annatto root in hepatitis.