what is annatto

This additive can be found in everything from spice mixes and cheddar cheese to mustard and marinades. What is annatto? Is it Paleo?

What is Annatto?

Annatto, sometimes called achiote, is the bright triangular seed of the achiote plant, native to tropical regions around the globe. Its flavor is somewhat mild and peppery, but its color is deep, bright orange. The seed can be crushed into a powder and added to dishes, soaked in warm water or oil to make a liquid dye, or, as is the case in commercial processing, the red color can be extracted from the seed and added to a variety of foods.

Is Annatto Paleo?

Yes, actually, it is! While we think additives are unnecessary, annatto is pretty harmless stuff. If you’re primal, you might even seen annatto listed as an ingredient in butter. That means they’re after the same yellow color as Kerrygold and other pastured butters. In that case, it’s best to stick with the real stuff and know that the annatto-added butter is masquerading as higher in carotenoids than it truly is.

Annatto seed is a perfectly harmless seed that just happens to be bright orange, and therefore used as a food dye! Some Puerto Rican recipes call for it as a coloring agent, and countries throughout South America use it to get a deeper color in many dishes. It’s really not necessary, but it is ancient, harmless, and Paleo.

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