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The Annatto plant known better as Achiote, (Achiote is pronounced as ah-chee-oh-tay), the pungent seed of the tropical annatto tree, is used both as a flavoring and a coloring. It is ideal to marinate or to prepare grilled or roasted beef, or chicken, pork and fish. The fruits are heart-shaped, brown or reddish brown at maturity, and are covered with short stiff hairs, grown in the humid tropical climate. When fully mature, the fruits split open exposing the numerous seeds. Although it does not produce an edible fruit, the achiote is widely grown for the orange-red pulp that covers the seeds. The achiote dye, used to give color is prepared by stirring the seeds in water, is used to color butter, cheese, rice and other foods. These seeds are very hard and must be soaked and softened to be used. Generally, they are made into a paste or oil.

These seeds are used in the Philippine Islands (which they use the seeds by grounding them and used as a condiment), used in Mexico, Peru and in the Indian cuisine.

Achiote is sold in whole or ground seeds, paste or liquid.

In a hurry, you can dilute 1 OZ of paste with ½ of cup of vinegar and itís ready to use.
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