Achiote and annatto are used interchangeably and are the most common names for a product extracted from the seeds of the evergreen Bixa orellanashrub/tree. After macerating in water, the pulp surrounding the seeds is made into cakes for further processing into dyes, while the seeds are dried and used whole or ground as a culinary spice.
Commercially, annatto is used to add yellow color to chorizo, butter and margarine, cheese, and smoked fish. On the Spanish speaking Caribbean islands it’s used to make yellow rice and sometimes added to sofrito. In the French Caribbean it’s used to make blaff recipes. (Houston, 2005).
Achiote powder mixed with other spices and herbs can be turned into a paste tomarinate and give a smoky flavor to meats, fish and poultry. A popular product made with ground achiote is sázon, available in small foil packets ready to use in your recipe. Most sázon brands contain MSG, but Badia does not.
Achiote seeds are steeped in cooking oil (achiote oil) or lard (achiotina), infusing them with color and flavor. Sautéing in or cooking with the oil or lard colors the rice, paella, meats, soups, stews, fish, and sometimes yuca dishes.
When used in small amounts primarily as a food colorant, annatto has no discernable flavor. However, when used in larger amounts to add flavor, it imparts an earthy, peppery flavor with a hint of bitterness. Achiote seeds give off a slightly floral or peppermint scent.
Achiote Paste from El Yuca Teco. 15 oz. container/ 12 peices in a case