Saturday, September 4, 2010

FOOD: Cheddar Cheese thank the Mayans for its color

Most Cheddar, yellow and delicious owes its distinct color to a little seed from the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico called Annatto, its the seed from the Achiote tree (Bixa orellana) and in my opinion a use that only takes the color from this seed but not its flavor.
Achiote seed pod, with Annatto seeds.

And flavor not color is where Annatto is truly remarkable, known in Mexico as Achiote, its the base for Cochinita Pibil a delicious slow roasted pork dish that deserves its own post, Annatto's taste has an interesting mix of flavors and an intoxicating aroma thats earthy and hints citrus and spicy chiles pepper and cloves yet there is absolutely no heat, and like pepper it has the ability to balance flavors Annatto has  great manners,  you need to really abuse it for it to overwhelm a dish.

Most latin markets will have it in paste form and its the best way to get it the seeds are so hard any ordinary spice grinder would have a hard time with this seed.

Use it mostly on pork and chicken, perfect for grilling and for the oven,  I even add a bit to my marinade when I barbecue a beef porterhouse or ribs. get it and explore



  1. ahh you see... it did say cheese

  2. Great post and pic. We first ran across annatto visiting the ranch of friends in Minas Gerias Brazil where they had a tree. They noted that the indigenous people there had used it for body decoration. We recently used it in some spicy pickles we made, mainly for the color.