Annatto uses go widely from edibles, to cosmetics and textiles.
Achiote seeds are the main component from the making of Annatto extract, giving an orange-yellow color from its carotenoid pigments. Kenya and Peru are the biggest annatto exporters with more that 60% of the production and distribution
The Achiote tree, original from the Amazon and some parts in Africa, provides a hard flower which contain in its insides, small reddish seeds that will derivate into two different forms of colorant: oil soluble bixin and water soluble norbixin.
The process from seeds to colorant consists in drying the seeds in the sun for hours until they bursts open. However, the drying must be controlled, because over drying it may cause loss in the pigmentation due to radiation from the sun. After they’ve been dried, the seeds are threshed and placed in a tank with 200 liters of water, and so, the precipitation process begins.
This process involves chemical mixtures and solutions such us caustic solution and sulphuric acid, which will mainly have a part in changing and adapting the mix’s ph balance and its concentration, and therefore, its color range.
At the final stage of the production, the variation in its mix will depend in the form of the annatto extract is presented: whether it’s in oil bixin, or in powder norbixin.
By the one hand, oil soluble bixin is more used in oils, because of its natural state allows it to mix better with greasy products like: edible oils, dressings, margarine and butters, etc.
By the other hand, water soluble norbixin is used as a mix powder to manufacture in the making of other products that require blending with water, such as: cereals, cheeses, snacks, etc.
Annatto is a great and natural colorant for the food and cosmetic industry with a variety of color range going from a reddish orange, to a pale yellow.
Some products from the food industry that you may not know that used Annatto colorant:
- Cheddar cheese
- Potato chips
- Cereal bars
- Protein bars
- Breakfast cereals
- Pineapple beverages
- Orange deserts
- Yellow colored ice-creams and popsicles
- Lemon candies
- Bakery frostings
- and Fruit fillings, among many others.