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SEPTEMBER HERB OF THE MONTH
ANNATTO
Bixa orellana



Annatto is an orange-red condiment and food coloring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree (Bixa orellana). It is often used to impart a yellow or orange color to foods, but sometimes also for its flavor and aroma. Its scent is described as "slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg" and flavor as "slightly nutty, sweet and peppery". The color of annatto comes from various carotenoid pigments, mainly bixin and norbixin, found in the reddish waxy coating of the seeds.

Annatto and its extracts are now widely used in an artisanal or industrial scale as a coloring agent in many processed food products, such as cheeses, dairy spreads, butter and margarine, custards, cakes and other baked goods, potatoes, snack foods, breakfast cereals, smoked fish, sausages, and more.

The annatto tree B. orellana is believed to originate from Brazil. Annatto has been traditionally used as both a coloring and flavoring agent in Latin America, the Caribbean, and other countries where it was taken by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 16th century.

Ground annatto seeds, often mixed with other seeds or spices, are used in the form of paste or powder for culinary use, especially in Latin American, Jamaican, Belizean, Chamorro, Vietnamese, and Filipino cuisines.

Annatto is used currently to impart a yellow or orange color to many industrialized and semi-industrialized foods. In the European Union, it is identified by the E number E160b.

In the United States, annatto extract is listed as a color additive "exempt from certification" and is informally considered to be a natural coloring. Foods colored with annatto may declare the coloring in the statement of ingredients as "colored with annatto" or "annatto color."

Annatto condiments and colorants are safe for most people when used in food amounts, but they may cause allergic reactions in those who are sensitive. Annatto is not among the "Big Eight" substances causing hypersensitivity reactions (cow's milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat), which are responsible for more than 90% of allergic food reactions.

This month CVHS is not publishing a herb of the month recipe in favor of our July CVHS potluck member recipes series.


in parts by Wikipedia

Photo by Rigues