Annatto (also known as Achiote, Lipstick Tree, or Bija) is a shrub or small tree native to tropical Central and South America. Fruits are heart-shaped, brown or reddish brown at maturity, and are covered with short stiff hairs.
When fully mature, the fruit split open exposing its many strikingly beautiful seeds. Although it does not produce an edible fruit per se, the Achiote is widely grown for the vibrant orange-red pulp that covers the seeds.
The Achiote dye, which is prepared by stirring the seeds in water, is used to color butter, cheese, rice and other foods. To harvest Annatto, bag the seed heads to capture ripening seed, allow the seed heads to dry on the plants; remove and collect seeds once they are dried.
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