Known in Spanish as achiote, annatto seeds are commonly used in Mexican, South American and Caribbean cuisine. They are primarily used for colouring, as they give a deep, rich golden colour to food (annatto is used in Canada and the United States to colour cheddar cheese). However, annatto seeds also have a delicate, pleasantly earthy flavour that is essential to some dishes.
To use as a colouring, soak the seeds in hot water to create a coloured liquid for adding to stocks or rice, or fry them in oil to make a lovely golden cooking oil.
Our favourite use for annatto seeds is to make puerco pibil, a slow-roasted pork dish from Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. For this dish, annatto seeds are blended with orange juice, chiles and other spices to make achiote paste, which infuses the pork with an incredible, distinctive flavour. We also have our own Achiote Seasoning available which combines annatto seeds with the other spices and chiles needed for this dish.