Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Colorau - Food Coloring from Nature

This is a red food coloring agent largely used in the Brazilian cuisine. It is known as colorau, which is extracted from urucum seeds (annatto or achiote in America).
Urucum (bixa orellana L)

Urucum tree is easy to grow. This one (and several others) is by the country road near my farm. It´s April.

It looks dangerous because of the spiky shell, but it is pretty soft as this point.


Wait until it gets to this point. You will need gloves to pick them. It´s September. It takes 5 months to mature.


Look what a jewel it hides inside.

The seeds come out easily by touch (make sure you wear gloves or you are going to have your hands like those of the Moroccan women - all tainted by handling bright colored spices).
But you don´t want to use urucum like this. The seeds are rock hard and may break your teeth. Simmer good amount of seeds in mild vegetable oil and then use a mortar and a pestle to rub the color off by adding fine cornmeal.
Sorry, no pictures of me processing the urucum. I don´t extract colorau. I get it from my neighbor.
It is said it tastes slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg, but I personally think it smells like oil and cornmeal.

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