The strange red pointy pod in your bag this week is Achiote - a regionally native plant used for thousands of years in food. Inside each pod is a collection of small red forming seeds. The coating around the seed portion produces a red dye, which is one of the most well-known safe food colorings in the world. Ever wonder how many latin-cuisines get their red, such as rice and pork? This is the stuff!
One word of caution, however. It is a dye, so watch it an your clothing when you handle it. You will see it on your fingertips if squeeze them. Since does wash out, this is a perfect and completely safe and edible skin coloring, which gives it's common name "lipstick bush." It is wonderful for face painting with kids, with its nice rosy red hue. So if you're feeling adventurous, you can feel free to play with your food here! Mix with a little egg white for a high-quality non-toxic body paint!
For more information check out this website, and try the recipe for Achiote Paste below!
Enjoy the harvest,
Claudia & the crew at Ridge to Reef Farm
Achiote paste, favored in Yucatán and Oaxacan cuisine, is made from the slightly bitter, earthy flavored, red annatto seeds, mixed with other spices and ground into a paste. Achiote is a distinctly colored and flavored mainstay of the Mexican kitchen.
A typical preparation mixes:
1/4 cup annatto seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon salt
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup bitter orange juice (Seville) or 1/3 cup white vinegar
Grind the spices (annatto, coriander, cumin, peppercorns, oregano and cloves) in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle. Blend the ground spices with the salt, garlic and the bitter orange juice until it is smooth. Rub the mixture onto chicken, pork or fish and let it marinate for 4–6 hours then cook as usual. Or use the achiote as an ingredient in another dish.
The paste is dissolved in either lemon juice, water, oil or vinegar to create a marinade, and marinated or rubbed directly upon meat. The meat is then grilled, baked, barbecued or broiled. Sometimes it is added to corn dough to create a zesty flavor and color in empanadas and red tamales.
Ridge to Reef Farm serves the US Virgin Islands with certified organic produce grown with sustainable permaculture practices (and a lot of love).