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Annatto is a bright–orange food colouring, which is extracted from the dark red, triangular seeds of a small tree native to South America. Although the seed is edible, it has little flavour and its culinary value lies more in its colouring properties. Annatto is used in Filipino, South American, Southeast Asian and Caribbean cooking as a colouring agent. Usually the seeds are fried in oil or lard and then discarded, and the remaining yellow lard is used to fry vegetables or meat to give them a golden yellow coating. When ground into a powder or paste, annatto is used to colour butter, margarine and smoked fish. Washed–rind cheeses, such as Livarot, are sometimes dipped in annatto colouring to deepen the colour of their rind, while the colouring of some cheeses, such as Red Leicester, is also enhanced with annatto.
Also known as — achuete, anatto, anchiote