Author Topic: Making annatto cheese coloring  (Read 3005 times)

Offline Boofer

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Making annatto cheese coloring
« on: August 23, 2012, 11:03:40 AM »
I wanted to see if it was practical and do-able to take my newly found annatto seeds, purchased at my Asian foods store, and make annatto coloring for my cheeses.

The idea is relatively simple. Using water, remove the colored seed coating and suspend it in the water. I initially used 5 ounces of distilled water and boiled the seeds for several minutes. Then I let the resulting broth sit for several hours while I did something else. I came back to the project and saw that the water had some color but that some of it had been absorbed by the seeds. I dumped that water into a reserve glass container for later action. I replaced the water with fresh distilled water and boiled the seeds again, stirring gently to ensure that the coating was being removed. After another cycle of this, I collected the colored extract and began filtering it using coffee filters.

After passing the extract through four coffee filters (which took a bit of time), I had about 7 ounces of liquid. I had cleaned an empty Cholula chili sauce bottle which held 5 ounces. I next boiled the extract down to about 3.5 ounces, concentrating the color. I put it into the empty bottle and then dripped out a couple drops onto a clean white plate. I put a couple drops of commercial annatto coloring beside it to compare. My extract was thinner but better filtered (does that matter?) while the commercial annatto was slightly thicker (maybe the suspended fines) and darker. I touched a corner of paper towel to each  liquid to see the staining and wicking action. During the making of this extract, some of it got onto the counter and did stain it. I had to use a kitchen cleaner with bleach to remove the stain.

This is something someone could do in an hour or two if they had the annatto seeds available. It's not particularly difficult and doesn't require special equipment. The key points in this process are to use adequate water to clean the color off the seeds, filter the resulting colored liquid, and boil it down to concentrate it. I could have further boiled mine to get a deeper color. I feel confident that it will color cheese in the strength that I ended up with. I may just have to add more.

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Offline BobE102330

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Re: Making annatto cheese coloring
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2012, 02:34:40 PM »
Cool thanks. Let us see how it works in a cheese

Offline hoeklijn

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Re: Making annatto cheese coloring
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2012, 12:25:09 AM »
What a wonderful experiment again Boofer! One question: What's the price of annato solution in the US compared to the price of the seeds?
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Offline Boofer

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Re: Making annatto cheese coloring
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2012, 08:45:59 AM »
What a wonderful experiment again Boofer! One question: What's the price of annato solution in the US compared to the price of the seeds?
The package of seeds cost me about $.79 and one ounce of commercial annatto coloring costs $6.97. The final volume of colored liquid that I ended up with was greater than 1 ounce, but I did not take the time to boil it down to reduce it and intensify the coloring. To be more closely compared with the commercial product, that should be done.

One other point: the commercial annatto contained more suspended particulate than my filtered product, which also might contribute to the deeper color.

For someone who did not have access to the commercial annatto, but still could acquire seeds, this process would likely do just fine.

When I need to color a cheese, I will most likely stick with the more saturated coloring of the commercial annatto.

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Offline Spellogue

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Re: Making annatto cheese coloring
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2012, 12:35:12 PM »
Wow, I'm impressed with your precision.  Two weeks ago I boiled annato seeds to add some color to a farmhouse cheddar, but I didn't take quite the care in preparing the decoction that you did, Boofer.  The quality of the end product was therefore more coarse, I'm sure, but it seemed OK for use in a rustic farmhouse cheddar.

I placed two Tbsp. of annato seeds in one cup of water and boiled it in the microwave at two minute intervals for 8 minutes.  I wish I'd started with a larger bowl as the fluid boiled over a bit at the first interval.  I didn't cover the bowl figuring a little evaporation might concentrate the elixir.  The liquid wasn't very dark, so I mashed up the seeds a bit with a spoon.  I only strained through a medium wire sieve, so there was some fine particulate matter in my finished liquid.  I had a little over 1/3 cup.  I added this to the milk just before adding the rennet.

It gave the pressed cheese a light salmon pink color.  There was some obvious fine granularity.  I suspect that was from both the annato particulate (darker) and the slight coagulation of from the starter taking the dye differently (lighter) than more fluid milk.  Different, not an unpleasant look, but rustic.

I tasted a drop of the liquid before adding it and found it quite bitter, so I didn't want to add more this first time trying it.  I'd never used annato in cheese making before.

I'll be very interested in your results, Boofer.  I'll try to remember to take some pics when I handle this cheese  next, I've already larded it.
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Offline MrsKK

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Re: Making annatto cheese coloring
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2012, 07:28:05 AM »
Thanks for doing this experiment, Boofer!  A cheese to you!

I also found annatto seeds at an Asian store and used them for a cheesemaking class, much as Spell did.  I don't think I boiled it enough, though, and I used a pan on the stove.  It didn't give much color to the cheese, but I only used a couple of tablespoons of seeds to a cup of of water and I had four gallons of milk to color.  It did end up more cream colored, rather than just white as it would have without any colorant.

I'll have to play around with it some more before my class in October.  Price comparisons were about the same for me, too.

Offline Boofer

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Re: Making annatto cheese coloring
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2012, 08:23:50 AM »
so I mashed up the seeds a bit with a spoon.
I believe the coloring is only on the surface of the seeds. Mashing the seeds would introduce more particulate, contributing to a filtering problem without adding deeper color.  :(

Thanks for the cheese, Karen.  :)

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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Making annatto cheese coloring
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2012, 04:38:21 PM »
How cool is that?

I think they reduce the annatto extract more so it's more concentrated. Perhaps you want to use an espresso grinder to make a dust our of the seeds and get out all those essential oils and tannins? Think of the color of a brew from ground coffee beans in that coffee filter vs whole beans with the same amount of water. Obviously the ground beans will have a much more intense color, no?

Offline leboy001

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Re: Making annatto cheese coloring
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2012, 05:45:23 PM »
How cool is that?

I think they reduce the annatto extract more so it's more concentrated. Perhaps you want to use an espresso grinder to make a dust our of the seeds and get out all those essential oils and tannins? Think of the color of a brew from ground coffee beans in that coffee filter vs whole beans with the same amount of water. Obviously the ground beans will have a much more intense color, no?


Maybe use a stove top espresso pot? With ground seeds the hot water will be forced through the grinds. But then if the colour is only on the outside it might be kinda pointless. You could reduce the liquid content at teh start or via simmering on the stove?

Offline Boofer

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Re: Making annatto cheese coloring
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2012, 08:24:10 AM »
Obviously the ground beans will have a much more intense color, no?
From the wiki: "In commercial processing, annatto coloring is extracted from the reddish pericarp which surrounds the seed".

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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Making annatto cheese coloring
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2012, 04:06:33 PM »
or the ground pericarp then

Offline Boofer

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Re: Making annatto cheese coloring
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2012, 01:50:53 AM »
Let's ferment something!
Bread, beer, wine, cheese...it's all good.

Offline washwood

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Re: Making annatto cheese coloring
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2012, 07:59:32 PM »
Interesting colonial heritage here. Annatto is indigenous to tropical (originally South American) areas, however our familiarity is with coloring in northern latitude foods (my mind always jumps to cheddar).

One other thing to note from the wiki, "Achiote dye is prepared by grinding seeds or simmering the seeds in water or oil." A richer color may come from soaking in oil. Just a thought.

Offline mightyMouse.tar.gz

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Re: Making annatto cheese coloring
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2012, 08:09:09 PM »
I would be interested in knowing if you run into any weird contamination issues.
// bad cheese exception handling
try { Cheese myCheese = new Gouda(); } catch (NastyCheeseException e) { throw new CultureContaminationException(); }

Offline Boofer

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Re: Making annatto cheese coloring
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2012, 08:20:01 AM »
I would be interested in knowing if you run into any weird contamination issues.
Me...or washwood?

I wouldn't expect any with the brew that I made because it boiled in the reduction phase.

A richer color may come from soaking in oil. Just a thought.
I don't want oil in my milk and then cheese. :o

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