Annatto food colouring is vegetable based used in cheese making, giving a lovely orange, yellow or red colour to your cheese.
Extracted from the seeds of the Achiote tree, native the tropical America, annatto is an organic product, making it suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
The yellow and orange hues with cheese will naturally vary throughout the year as the animal’s food changes. In spring and summer months, with lush, fresh grass and its natural carotene content, milk contains a natural orange tint. So will the cheese made from it. At other times of the year, the tint is lighter.
This yellow and orange pigment is carried in the cream. Farmers skimmed the milk to make delicious, rich-looking butter to be sold separately.
England is among many countries, worldwide, that use annatto to colour cheeses. Colourants have been added to the famous Red Gloucester cheese as early as the 16th century. Annatto was later used for this purpose and then subsequently adopted in other parts of the UK, for cheeses like Cheshire, Red Leicester and a coloured Cheddar made in Scotland.
Nowadays, cheddars are produced in white, red and orange varieties. The only difference between them is the amount of annatto present.
In addition to cheese, colouring is a practice greatly extended to many modern processed food products.
The old saying ‘we eat with our eyes’ is very true.
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