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What Is Kitchen Bouquet?

By Lumara Lee
Updated May 16, 2024
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Kitchen Bouquet is a sauce that has been used by American cooks for over 100 years. It can be used as a browning sauce or gravy base to make quick meals from scratch. Kitchen Bouquet also functions as a seasoning. It takes only a small amount to enrich the color of food, and a bottle will last a long time.

Jules Tournade, a candy business owner, first created the sauce made out of spices, herbs, vegetable juices, and caramel in 1877. He named it Tournade's Concentrated Essence, which took first place at the First Annual Exposition of Alimentary Products in 1882. After winning this honor, Tournade’s sauce was renamed Kitchen Bouquet Browning and Seasoning Sauce. This sauce was originally sold in an aqua glass bottle which has since become a collectible antique, and would go on to become a staple in many kitchens. Since 1971, the sauce has been sold by The Clorox Company.

Kitchen Bouquet is popular with cooks and food stylists who are concerned with food presentation. Although it contains some spices for flavor, it is mostly used as a browning agent. Kitchen Bouquet is often brushed over meat to give it an appealing, roasted appearance. It is also used to improve the color of foods that don’t turn brown when they are cooked in a crock pot or microwave. The sauce is also used to darken the color of stews, soups, marinades, and gravies.

Some people find the taste of Kitchen Bouquet delicious, and they like to add it to foods to bring out the flavor. Other people don’t think it has any flavor at all, so they only use it as a browning sauce. For people who don't like it, it is commonly reported to taste burnt. Tournade intended for Kitchen Bouquet to taste like beef, and it does to some people.

The main ingredients in Kitchen Bouquet are caramel and a base made from a number of vegetables and spices. The sauce is preserved with a small amount of sodium benzoate. It comes in the same brown bottle with a yellow label that it has been packaged in for decades. The only difference in packaging is that the original brown bottle was made of glass, and now it is made of plastic.

There are several ways to make a homemade browning sauce using ingredients found in most kitchens, and a combination of brown sugar and water is all that is needed for simple recipes. The first step is to cook 1/2 cup of brown sugar over low heat, stirring constantly until it turns dark brown. Adding two cups of water will create a sauce that will give meats that attractive, roasted appearance.

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