Annatto (Bixa orellana) is a tropical American tree whose seeds are used to produce a food coloring used in cheese, margarine, butter, rice and smoked fish. Annatto is widely used in Latin America and the Caribbean cuisines as both a coloring agent and for flavoring. Central and South American Indians used the seeds to make a body paint, and as a lipstick. (also called achiote, and lipstick tree)
Annatto seeds are red in color with a slightly bitter taste.
Annatto seeds were used extensively by the Caribs of the Caribbean region as body paint.
In the 17th century annatto was being used in Europe in chocolate recipes, and by the 18th century it was being used to color Cheshire Cheese and Leicester Cheese in England. It has practically no flavor so it is a preferred coloring agent. It is also used as a saffron substitute
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