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What Is Annatto?
Annatto, also called Roucou, is produced from the reddish pulp which surrounds the seed of the achiote (Bixa orellana L.), and is used to produce a red food coloring and also as a flavoring. Its scent is described as "slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg" and flavor as "slightly sweet and peppery". The food additive number for annatto is E160b, allowing consumers to identify it on a label even when it is not listed by name.
Annatto is used in many cheeses (e.g., Cheddar, Red Leicester, and Brie), margarine, butter, rice, smoked fish, and custard powder, and commonly found in Latin America and Caribbean cuisines as both a coloring agent and for flavoring. Central and South American natives use the seeds to make a body paint, and lipstick. For this reason, the achiote is sometimes called the lipstick-tree.
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