In a nutshell: Our annatto seeds come from Mexico's Yucatan peninsula and have both remarkable flavour and a deep orange colour, ideal when you want to make South American and Mexican style dishes.
Annatto (also known as achiote) comes from a small tree (bixa orellana) known as the lipstick tree with stunning pink flowers and dramatic seed pods. Traditionally used as a body paint by Amazon tribes and as an ink and fabric dye by the Aztecs and Incans, it is still a common flavouring and colouring ingredient throughout South America, the Caribbean and Philippines. It is also rich in antioxidants and used as a herbal medicine for high cholesterol and stomach problems. Still widely used commercially to colour many foodstuffs, such as cheeses (Dutch gouda) and in Brazil it lends it's characteristic orange colour (along with dende palm oil) to many Bahian dishes.
Our Yucatan annatto grown in the harsh and dry conditions of the Yucatan is remarkable for its penetrating flavour and vivid colour. Use it for classic Yucatan recados and rub, delicious cochonita pibil (braised pork) and tamales. Annatto seeds also infuse any oil and rice dishes with a deep colour and aroma. I use it as a substitute for Peruvian amarillo potatoes when making and colouring mash for one of my my favourite dishes, Causa, the cold Peruvian layered potato cake with avocados, tuna or prawns.
About Épices de Cru
Épices de Cru began in 1982 as a catering partnership between Philippe and Ethné de Vienne. Their mission was a kind of “cooking pot anthropology:” learning the secrets of family cooking around the world and applying these techniques to the needs of hungry Montrealers. The secret, they learned, was spices. Over the last two decades, Philippe and Ethné have searched for the world’s best spices, accompanied by their children, Marika and Arik. The de Viennes believe in direct sourcing spices: visiting growing regions, spending time with growers, and developing personal relationships that last decades. In 2004, they officially opened their first spice shop in Montreal’s fantastic Jean Talon market– it’s since become a mecca for foodies from all over the world. I first visited in 2008 and have been buying and using their spices on a regular basis ever since that first exciting visit. They steadfastly maintain that they do nothing original, only facilitating the exchange of culinary common sense from one place to another. But, what they do is simply quite brilliant - by providing us with the finest quality ingredients, and their superb spice mixes, we can all experiment with unusual spices and recreate delicious recipes from around the world.