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Annatto, sometimes called roucou, is a derivative of the achiote trees of tropical regions of the Americas, used to produce a yellow to orange 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".
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Annatto coloring is produced from the reddish pericarp or pulp which surrounds the seed of the achiote. It is used in many natural cheeses, margarine, butter, rice, smoked fish, and custard powder.
Annatto is 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". Achiote originated in South America and has spread in popularity to many parts of Asia. It is also grown in other tropical or subtropical regions of the world, including Central America, Africa and Asia. The heart-shaped fruit are brown or reddish brown at maturity, and are covered with short, stiff hairs. When fully mature, the fruit split open, exposing the numerous dark red seeds. While the fruit itself is not edible, the orange-red pulp that covers the seed is used to produce a yellow to orange commercial food coloring. Achiote dye is prepared by stirring the seeds in water or oil.
Organic production fosters cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program (NOP) develops, implements, and administers national production, handling, and labeling standards. Organic farming excludes or strictly limits the use of manufactured fertilizers, pesticides (which include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides), plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, food additives, and genetically modified organisms.