Annatto, Turmeric, and Paprika

ImageAnnatto, Turmeric, and Paprika


The colors of the food define the perception of the particular food item or recipe. Many people identify good food and good flavor simply by the colors before it is even savored. When the colors match the consumer’s criteria, the desire for that specific food increases, intensifying the flavor for the actual food as well (The Art Institute, on cooking, 4th Ed.). Many colors added to food are derived from plant sources to enhance the visual part of the food. Even though they are from natural resources, federal regulations establish that all food coloring added to products have to be identified from their original source or plant and not identified as natural. Other food colors that are chemically created, such as FD&C Red No. 40 dye and lake, have to be identified in the content of the product as certified colors (Margaret McWilliams, Food Experimental Perspectives 7 Ed.). In this research, I will talk about the sources, functions and the interaction of cooking with Annatto, Turmeric, and Paprika.


Achiote is the tree responsible for the seed annatto which provides the bright yellow and intense orange that is used in many commercial products. Annatto is used in central and south America as medicinal and as an ingredient in many dishes. The fruit has a heart shape and it is covered with spiky hair. When the fruit ripens, the pod opens to show its red seeds. This particular fruit has been used by ancient civilizations as face coloring and as a part of religious rituals. The annatto seed can be ground into a powder, as a paste, and cooked in oil to make the achiote oil. In addition, the annatto color is commercially utilized in cheeses, butter, margarine, processed meats, beverages, packaged foods, and it is a staple in Caribbean gastronomy. Earthy, musky, and slightly peppery are the flavor characteristics of the annatto seed. The color of annatto is extracted by heating the seed in oil or water or simply by a single touch (Bethany Moncel, Guide).


Paprika is another natural food color that is ground and it is made from the chile peppers (capsicum) originally from Mexico and taken to Europe by Christopher Columbus. It is used as a garnish in many recipes to create vibrant colors. Paprika is very versatile for flavor such as sweet, spicy, and smoked. The pepper is planted in March and harvested from September to November. The peppers are first placed to dry in racks above the fire for about two weeks. Then, when the pepper is dried completely, is taken to small paprika mills, where the stalks and part of the cores are removed. This ground process is made through electric mills that have stone wheels. The heat from the friction determines the flavor and color of the paprika, so a slow grinding process is very important (


Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor with a slight fragrance of orange and ginger, and better known as the principal Indian curry ingredient. It provides the mustard and yellow color in Asian foods. This particular root is from the Curcuma longa plant and it also part of the ginger family. The skin of turmeric root is brown with a deep orange pulp. Turmeric has been used for hundreds of years as house remedies such as anti-inflammatory medicine. The versatile use of turmeric is incomparable as a condiment, healing remedy and textile dye. The deep color of turmeric is made out boiling, drying and fine grinding the root. Turmeric can be straight added to different eggs, grains, beans or lentils, salads, stews, and meats (


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