Kitchen Bouquet is, according to the Practically Edible website, "a bottled condiment sauce used as an ingredient in cooking, rather than as a table condiment." It is mainly used to darken or add a brown colour to foods and is therefore sometimes referred to as a "browning agent."
Kitchen Bouquet is only made by one company, the Clorox Company in Oakland, California. The ingredients that the Clorox Company includes on plastic bottles of Kitchen Bouquet are: "caramel, vegetable base (water, carrots, onion, celery, parsnips, turnips, salt, parsley, spices), sodium benzoate (less than .01 or 1% to preserve freshness) and sulfating agents."
Descriptions of the flavour of Kitchen Bouquet vary. Some describe the cooking condiment as flavourless, while others think it tastes as though it has been burnt. The Practically Edible website describes the flavour of Kitchen Bouquet as a mild beef flavour and attributes that flavour to the fact that Kitchen Bouquet is made from a certain combination of herbs, spices, vegetables and water.
Kitchen Bouquet has a variety of uses, all of which require only small quantities of the condiment. For example, it can be used to colour meat, particularly meat that has been cooked on an electric grill and may otherwise come out looking grey. Brush the top of meat with Kitchen Bouquet before cooking for a nicely roasted appearance. Kitchen Bouquet is also used to darken gravies and marinades, lending them a rich, brown colour "and to enhance the colour of foods cooked in the microwave or in a crock pot, which might not brown otherwise." Additionally, Kitchen Bouquet can be used as a substitute for certain "bitters" in alcoholic drinks.
Kitchen Bouquet was originally called "Tournade's Kitchen Bouquet" and was sold in an aqua glass bottle that measured about 6 1/2 inches tall. It is thought that the condiment was first made in the 1800s by a manufacturing company in New Jersey that was owned by Jules L. Tournade. Tournade died in a horse accident in 1891. In 1923, as the result of a merger, Kitchen Bouquet became part of the Foulds Company. Then, in 1929, thanks to another merger, it was owned by Grocery Store Products, Inc., where it was made until 1972, when the Clorox Company purchased Grocery Store Products, Inc., and, consequently, Kitchen Bouquet. Kitchen Bouquet is now sold in a brown bottle with a bright yellow label.
A simple version of Kitchen Bouquet can be made at home to colour meat and darken and thicken gravies and marinades. Heat a 1/2 cup of brown sugar in a small pan, stirring until the sugar begins to melt and darken in colour. Then, pour 2 cups of water into the pan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for a few minutes and then use in cooking or store in the refrigerator.
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