A perfect gift for cooks. Browning sauce is something I love for one very simple (and important) reason. It makes gravy beautifully brown. Beef, pork or lamb gravy becomes a rich dark brown, and surprisingly it also makes turkey or chicken gravy a lovely golden brown when you use it sparingly. Add a very small amount to cream sauce or cheese sauce to add depth and richness to the color. Browning sauce was always difficult to find at the store, but after a while it became impossible to find. After a couple years of fruitless searching, I finally realized that, if I wanted it, I was going to have to make it.
First I had to do the detective work. I still had the last bottle on my shelf, and the ingredients listed were water, sugar, salt, spices, flavorings, and some things whose names had so many letters you can’t pronounce them. I suspected the active ingredient was the sugar but was not certain. I looked online for any clues about how to achieve that lovely golden brown color. All searches for brown coloring led to one thing: ‘caramel color’. It is everywhere. Cola has it, packaged gravies have it, canned soups have it, chocolate cake has it. Caramel is burnt sugar, and that I know how to make. After just a few experiments, I came up with an excellent browning sauce that I have been happily using for several years. I make up a large squeeze bottle (about 4 ounces) and it lasts a year or two refrigerated. If you make a large batch, you can make enough to give to others as well as enjoying it for yourself, for very little extra work.
This recipe makes about four 4-ounce bottles of browning sauce. If you want more, DO NOT increase this recipe. Just make a batch at a time until you get the amount you want.
• 2 cups sugar, in a heavy-bottom saucepan like a cast-iron skillet
• 1 cup water, measured and set next to the sink
• Wooden spoon (a metal spoon will get too hot)
• Several thick potholders next to the stove
• An apron
USE EXTREME CAUTION
Heating sugar can be extremely dangerous. Sugar melts at 320 degrees, so you don’t want to spill it on your skin. Work carefully and quietly without distractions. Make sure the kitchen is clean and neat with no obstacles in the way. Have all your tools laid out carefully. Have no dangling clothes or jewelry. Move slowly and carefully. Do not allow others in the kitchen area, especially children, unless it is a person you are very comfortable working with and can count on to be helpful and not distracting. Focus on your work. Be careful.
Place sugar in saucepan. Turn on to medium heat and stir slowly and constantly with the wooden spoon. The sugar will melt into a clear syrup, then the syrup will turn golden, and gradually it will darken. Stir and heat until the syrup becomes very, very dark, almost black. It will start smoking, be very careful not to allow it to smoke heavily – it may burst into flame which is extremely dangerous. If it begins to smoke too much, turn down the heat (if you are using gas) or take the pan off the heat briefly to slow down the smoking.
When the syrup has become very dark, almost black, immediately carry it to the sink using the potholders and place in the bottom of the sink. With the spoon in one hand and ready to stir, and the measured water in the other, pour the water in all at once quickly, stirring constantly. The sugar will spatter and steam at first, then quickly become a sauce. Stir until smooth – this will take just a minute or so.
Allow to cool, and pour into squeeze bottles using a funnel. I keep this browning sauce in my refrigerator for eight to twelve months.
Add labels for gifting to the cooks in your life.
More homemade gift ideas from Jeanne:
Russian Tea Mix Homemade Garlic Salt Apple Kringle Herb Infused Olive Oil
Shop Our Food/Craft Collection: