Achiote


Achiote


(photo courtesy of Leonardo Aguiar. Originally uploaded to Flickr as Urucum (bixa orellana) seeds)

From Privilege: Cooking in the Caribbean for men only (and for women who care)

Achiote (Annatto)

Rusty-red dried seed used primarily to colour cooking oil, also lend delicate flavour – no substitute.

It was January of ’07 when someone left a comment on this site asking what that odd fruit in the lower right hand corner of the Naparima Girls’ Cookbook was. Puzzled, and a little embarassed that I had never noticed it, I quickly got to work trying to find the answer. Fortunately, it was another reader who provided the answer.

Excerpt from the discussion that ensued:

The fruit that is Annato/ Achiote on the new Naparima Cookbook is also known by the common name of Okhcoo( hope I spelt it correctly). It is used to make/give the red colouring which many trini cooks of long ago could not make stewed fish without. And by my Mom always in her salted fish with ochroes and conrmeal dumplings steamed in coconut milk.
It is a big tree and usually when the pods are ready if they are not harvested on time there would be a red spotted carpet of dirt or grass under the tree.

Shortly after receiving this information I made a trip to the Port of Spain General Market and found a bottle of the stuff being sold by a local vendor who called it urucu (shown above). Excited I snatched it up and used it shortly after in a paella. Although it gave good colour, I could not discern any particular flavour that was imparted. To be fair the mixture was very liquidy and I wonder if maybe I literally got ‘watered down’ product. Annatto/achiote is such a fundamental base in Latin American cuisine that I find it hard to believe that this is what all the hype has been about. Especially, as I have very vivid memories of the vibrant flavours of the paellas in Venezuala. I think I may need to try another bottle of the stuff, this time purchased from a specialty store or something of the like. If anyone who is locally based knows a good source feel free to give me your recommendation :)

Hmm, I really should get around to posting that Market picture series though, I can’t believe it’s been almost two years! Oh well, at least on film food never rots :lol:

Want to know more about achiote and its uses? Check out the following:

Achiote (Wikipedia)

Note: This entry has been submitted to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Gretchen from Canela & Comino

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Passionate foodie, founder of Trinigourmet and Caribbean Lifestyle Maven. Author of "Glam By Request: 30+ Easy Caribbean Recipes"

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  • http://canelaycomino.blogspot.com Gretchen Noelle

    Wonderful entry! Please be sure to email me all the info so I can include this in the round-up!

  • http://canelaycomino.blogspot.com Gretchen Noelle

    Wonderful entry! Please be sure to email me all the info so I can include this in the round-up!

  • http://nyamfood.blogspot.com Anaylli

    I love cooking with achiote!! Mostly for the color not the flavor though. The flavor is really subtle. I can’t be much help with local suppliers since i’m in the U.S., but if you can find the seeds, the oil is really simple to make and you might get more flavor out of it than the market-bought one.
    I have a recipe for mine here:
    nyamfood.blogspot.com/2008/02/achiote-annatto-urucum.html
    But there are many others out there…

  • http://nyamfood.blogspot.com Anaylli

    I love cooking with achiote!! Mostly for the color not the flavor though. The flavor is really subtle. I can’t be much help with local suppliers since i’m in the U.S., but if you can find the seeds, the oil is really simple to make and you might get more flavor out of it than the market-bought one.
    I have a recipe for mine here:
    nyamfood.blogspot.com/2008/02/achiote-annatto-urucum.html
    But there are many others out there…

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Gretchen – thanks! Looking forward to the roundup :D

    Anayli – Great to have discovered your blog :) I may have to see if I can track down some sides in order to try your recipe out :)

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Gretchen – thanks! Looking forward to the roundup :D

    Anayli – Great to have discovered your blog :) I may have to see if I can track down some sides in order to try your recipe out :)

  • http://aidanbrookstopics.blogspot.com/ Trig

    I’ve got achiote as the paste and annatto as the plant, but it probably varies from place to place like so many other products.
    www.aidanbrooksspices.blogspot.com/2007/10/annatto.html

  • http://aidanbrookstopics.blogspot.com/ Trig

    I’ve got achiote as the paste and annatto as the plant, but it probably varies from place to place like so many other products.
    www.aidanbrooksspices.blogspot.com/2007/10/annatto.html

  • Melanie

    Hi Sarina–I googled achiote and it does indeed grow inside this pod–as displayed.

  • Melanie

    Hi Sarina–I googled achiote and it does indeed grow inside this pod–as displayed.

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Trig – regional variations using the same words is so confusing :) i’m actually working on a post on hibiscus and sorrel and how what those words refer to changes according to where you live :)

    Melanie – Yes, I know, it’s also on the cover of the Naparima Girls cookbook shown above :)

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Trig – regional variations using the same words is so confusing :) i’m actually working on a post on hibiscus and sorrel and how what those words refer to changes according to where you live :)

    Melanie – Yes, I know, it’s also on the cover of the Naparima Girls cookbook shown above :)

  • Harasho Puck

    Found on herbies-herbs.com

    Family: Bixaceae Genus: Bixa Species: orellana

    Common Names: Annatto, achiote, achiotec, achioti, achote, urucu, beni-no-ki, bija, onoto, orleanstrauch, roucou, roucouyer, uruku

    Parts Used: Seeds, leaves, roots, shoots

    Medicinal Properties: Antibacterial, anti-dysenteric, anti-gonorrheal, anti- inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, anti-tussive, astringent, cicatrizant, depurative, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, febrifuge, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, nutritive, parasitic, purgative, stomachic

    Culinary Herb Provides Hope for Prostate Cancer

    The Achiote shrub (Bixa orellana) is more commonly known as Annatto, famous for producing a red seed used as food coloring. Achiote grows in a wide variety of tropical and southern hemisphere countries, ranging from Mexico to Portugal. The name "Achiote" originates from Spain. Several first nations peoples of South America, such as the Piura and Cojedes tribes, used the leaves of Achiote for medicinal purposes, often for a wide range of conditions, such as skin problems, liver disease, stomach disorders, and general infections. The infusion of the leaf is considered to possess astringent antiseptic properties which make it valuable in the managements of dysentery and diarrhea, plus it is antipyretic, which has been applied traditionally to suppress fevers. The effect on the liver is gentle enough to be considered a general digestive aid, yet strong enough to assist in the treatment of hepatitis. It's antiseptic properties are often used as a wash, whether for a broad array of skin disorders or as a douche in mild vaginal tract infections.

    Perhaps the most interesting reports of Achiote's use concern the prostate and cancer. In South America these stories come from the shamanic healers of the region known as "Curanderos," who use approximately a teaspoon of the crushed leaves per litre of water, boiling the leaf as a decoction for ten minutes. After straining, the tea is consumed specifically after the meals at a dose of three cups daily, served warm or cold. This is thought to be a good remedy for a long list of complaints regarding the urinary and reproductive areas, from cystitis to prostatic disorders in general, to relatively serious conditions such as renal insufficiency and of course cancer itself. Tonic properties are thought to make these leaves usefull as an aphrodisiac and an aid for managing obesity.

    Other claims include an ability to remove uric acid from the blood, which would be of great help in many arthritic conditions. Additionally, it appears to have some circulatory cleansing properties, perhaps through its beneficial effects on the liver, because it is used to treat high cholesterol, and presumably in relation to this, it is recommended for arterial hypertension. Test tube experiments on the alcohol extract of the leaf showed significant activity against some strains of E. coli and Staphylococcus, and a water based preparation relaxed the muscles and blood vessels of dogs. Most of the information known about this plant concerns its popular seeds, which contain a large number of interesting natural compounds known to be healthy and safe, however some people may notice a pronounced diuretic effect, in which case the dose should be accordingly decreased.

  • Harasho Puck

    Found on herbies-herbs.com

    Family: Bixaceae Genus: Bixa Species: orellana

    Common Names: Annatto, achiote, achiotec, achioti, achote, urucu, beni-no-ki, bija, onoto, orleanstrauch, roucou, roucouyer, uruku

    Parts Used: Seeds, leaves, roots, shoots

    Medicinal Properties: Antibacterial, anti-dysenteric, anti-gonorrheal, anti- inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, anti-tussive, astringent, cicatrizant, depurative, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, febrifuge, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, nutritive, parasitic, purgative, stomachic

    Culinary Herb Provides Hope for Prostate Cancer

    The Achiote shrub (Bixa orellana) is more commonly known as Annatto, famous for producing a red seed used as food coloring. Achiote grows in a wide variety of tropical and southern hemisphere countries, ranging from Mexico to Portugal. The name "Achiote" originates from Spain. Several first nations peoples of South America, such as the Piura and Cojedes tribes, used the leaves of Achiote for medicinal purposes, often for a wide range of conditions, such as skin problems, liver disease, stomach disorders, and general infections. The infusion of the leaf is considered to possess astringent antiseptic properties which make it valuable in the managements of dysentery and diarrhea, plus it is antipyretic, which has been applied traditionally to suppress fevers. The effect on the liver is gentle enough to be considered a general digestive aid, yet strong enough to assist in the treatment of hepatitis. It's antiseptic properties are often used as a wash, whether for a broad array of skin disorders or as a douche in mild vaginal tract infections.

    Perhaps the most interesting reports of Achiote's use concern the prostate and cancer. In South America these stories come from the shamanic healers of the region known as "Curanderos," who use approximately a teaspoon of the crushed leaves per litre of water, boiling the leaf as a decoction for ten minutes. After straining, the tea is consumed specifically after the meals at a dose of three cups daily, served warm or cold. This is thought to be a good remedy for a long list of complaints regarding the urinary and reproductive areas, from cystitis to prostatic disorders in general, to relatively serious conditions such as renal insufficiency and of course cancer itself. Tonic properties are thought to make these leaves usefull as an aphrodisiac and an aid for managing obesity.

    Other claims include an ability to remove uric acid from the blood, which would be of great help in many arthritic conditions. Additionally, it appears to have some circulatory cleansing properties, perhaps through its beneficial effects on the liver, because it is used to treat high cholesterol, and presumably in relation to this, it is recommended for arterial hypertension. Test tube experiments on the alcohol extract of the leaf showed significant activity against some strains of E. coli and Staphylococcus, and a water based preparation relaxed the muscles and blood vessels of dogs. Most of the information known about this plant concerns its popular seeds, which contain a large number of interesting natural compounds known to be healthy and safe, however some people may notice a pronounced diuretic effect, in which case the dose should be accordingly decreased.

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