Graines de rocou
Graines de Rocou
Graines de rocou

Annatto seeds


Originating from Central America, annatto seed is a spice that adds a beautiful reddish-orange color to your dishes.

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Our annatto seed:

a powerful red dye

Annatto, commonly known as Rocou, Achiote, or Roucou, is a red-orange dye obtained from the seeds of a tropical tree (Bixa orellana L.). The main pigments found in annatto extracts are bixin and norbixin.

Native to Central America, annatto seeds have been used for millennia by the Mayans and Aztecs as a potent natural red dye, earning the plant the nickname ‘lipstick tree.

Annatto is an evergreen tropical tree that has adapted well to the tropical climate of Kampot. At the ends of its branches, spiny capsules form. It is necessary to wait until the summer months for the seeds to develop inside these capsules. The Annatto seeds are harvested from the tree, with each containing between 30 and 50 very hard, triangular red seeds.

The Rocou seeds are then sun-dried to remove the thin layer of wax that surrounds them.

Annatto, also commonly known as Achiote or Roucou, is a red-orange coloring obtained from the seeds of a tropical tree (Bixa orellana L.). The main pigments in annatto extracts are bixin and norbixin.

Medicinally, annatto has been traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments, including burns, infections, and even as an insect repellent. Annatto seeds contain antioxidant compounds such as bixin, which is used to aid digestion and as an anti-inflammatory.

Annatto seeds are hard and dense, making them nearly impossible to grind with a mill or mortar. To release their coloring and aromatic molecules, heat them in oil and then remove them before using this oil for cooking. You can also infuse them in water; however, this method requires more seeds and a longer infusion time (approximately one hour) for the compounds to dissolve.

  • Marinades: Annatto is often used to color and flavor marinades. Mix it with other spices, oil, and citrus to marinate meat, fish, or vegetables before cooking.
  • Frying: Soak Annatto seeds in hot oil. When the oil is well-colored, remove the seeds and use it for frying fish croquettes or fritters.
  • Sauces: Add Annatto to sauces to give them a beautiful red color and a slightly earthy flavor. It can be used in pasta sauces, tomato-based sauces, meat sauces, and seafood sauces.
  • Rice and grains: Annatto can be added to rice, quinoa, and other grains to color them and give them a unique flavor. It is particularly popular in Caribbean and Latin American rice dishes. Add Annatto-infused water gradually as you cook your rice (e.g., Spanish chicken rice).
  • Stews: Incorporating annatto into stews such as stews, curries, and soups can give them a beautiful color and additional flavor.
  • Infused oil: Infuse oil with annatto by gently heating the oil with seeds or annatto powder. This flavored oil can be used for cooking or dressing salads.
  • Fish and seafood: Annatto is often used to season and color fish and seafood dishes. Rub it directly on fish before cooking or add it to marinades and sauces.
  • Traditional dishes: Explore traditional recipes from Caribbean, Mexican, Latin American, and Asian cuisines where annatto is a common ingredient originating from Central America. You will find a multitude of delicious dishes that showcase this spice.
  • Vegetarian dishes: Add an original touch to vegetarian recipes by incorporating annatto; for example, sautéed tofu with annatto or quinoa and vegetable salad with annatto.Flavor pairings with Annatto :

Garlic: Garlic adds a pungent and aromatic flavor that pairs well with annatto, especially in meat and fish dishes.

Onion: Onions bring subtle sweetness and depth of flavor that complements annatto, especially in stews and sauces.

Lemon: Lemon adds freshness and zest to dishes seasoned with annatto, balancing its earthy flavor.

Cilantro: Fresh cilantro adds an herbaceous touch that pairs well with annatto, especially in fish and seafood dishes.

Tomato: Tomatoes complement the color and flavor of annatto, especially in sauces and stews.

In the 17th century, with the expansion of trade between Europe and the New World, annatto was imported and spread across the European continent. It was used as a textile and food colouring. At the time, competition was fierce between Dutch and French cheeses. French cheesemakers discovered the strong colouring power of Rocou, a spice fresh from the holds of merchant ships from the New World, and decided to use it to give their cheese a unique colour: mimolette was born! The orange colour derived from Rocou has enabled mimolette to establish itself as a French speciality in its own right, making it an instant eye-catcher in any cheese shop or on any cheese platter. If you were wondering about the origin of the orange colour of Haddock fillets, you now have the answer: Rocou. To obtain this orange fillet, the haddock undergoes meticulous preparation using age-old know-how. First, the fish is salted in brine and then immersed in rocket water. After drying, the fish is gently cold-smoked for several hours.

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  • Variety

    Bixa orellana
  • Origin

  • Ingredients

    100% annatto seeds
  • Spice-Food Pairing

    Flavoured and colouring oil, rice, fish, red curry, vegetables, marinades
  • DDM

    36 months
  • Conservation

    Keep in a cool, dry place, away from light and moisture
  • Allergen

    Allergy free

Sweet, slightly peppery, lemony and peaty notes. Strong colouring power.

Delivery in France (48h) and in Europe (3/5 days)

Free delivery for orders over €80

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