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Achiote or Annatto Seeds

Achiote or Annatto seeds is a spice that grows heavily in the Yucatán area and is unique and native to this area. The seeds come from the Annatto tree, which grows beautiful pink flowers that produce a prickly pod which has dozens and dozens of these seeds inside.

The seeds have a beautiful brown, brick, reddish warm and appealing color. The Mayas used the seeds since Pre-Hispanic times to color their skin, garments, art and they also mixed them with their chocolate drink as a symbol of blood, given the color, in their rites. The seeds provide a strong, pungent and sort of permanent flavor to the dishes they are used in.


9comments inAchiote or Annatto Seeds

  1. G Perez

    Feb 17

    I was taught to cook these seeds in oil to extract their color and use the oil instead of sazon packets in my cooking. I keep the oil in the refrigerator and mix it with my sofrito. It gives color to my rice and meats.

    1. Pati

      Feb 26


  2. Isa

    Feb 16

    We also use it heavily in Pacific Island culture. We are called “Chamorros”. We use achote in cooking rice, soup, meat dishes, and empanadas!

    1. Pati

      Feb 18

      So interesting. Thank you so much for sharing, Isa!

  3. Lisa

    Feb 16

    Can they be used to colour red bread/plum pretty bread/red velvet cake or is flavour too strong, or is colour nullified with the alkaline level?

    1. Pati

      Feb 26

      You can definitely test it out, Lisa. I would simmer the seeds for a while and use that liquid. Let me know how it goes!

  4. Deby

    Feb 16

    Years ago I went to a small Annatto farm in Belize and it was so cool and so primitive, I will always remember it and my husband always uses Annatto on his BBQ Chicken here now in Costa Rica and here it’s referred to as Achiote.

    1. Pati

      Feb 18

      Your husband’s BBQ chicken sounds yum!

  5. charleen

    Oct 19

    annatto seeds have been found to contain a very powerful form of Vitamin E. Researchers in Queensland,Australia have contracted with a Canadian pharmaceutical company to synthesize the substance,which has been shown to be of great benefit in treating breast cancer. Other sources studied for this purpose are red palm oil and rice bran. Annatto seems to be the chosen one.

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