Gravy Browning is not the same as gravy powder. Browning just adds colour, and (most claim) some flavour. Gravy Powder will thicken the gravy as well.
There are many different Gravy Browning products made, including such brands as such as Kitchen Bouquet, Goodall’s, and Crosse and Blackwell.
Strict Gravy Browning products — ones that have no additional flavour, just colouring — are made from ingredients such as caramel (E150), salt and water. These products can also be used as for darkening cakes, such as fruit or rum cakes. Some use Gravy Browning in darkening brews of homemade beer. Some wags suggest making a spray-on solution for indoor tanning.
Gravy Browning comes in liquid and powder. It used to be a household staple; now, the fashion instead is to rely on darkening the pan juices to make gravy.
Many Brits feel that American gravy is far too “light” in colour. Most Brits cheat thoroughly, though: they don’t just use gravy browning, they go whole hog and use Bisto which adds flavour as well.
Worchestershire Sauce, though that is going to change your flavour (not a bad thing, perhaps, in some people’s gravy);
- Instant coffee;
- Flour toasted in a pan over very low heat. Some people toast a few cups of it at a time in the oven, let cool, then store in a jar, ready to use;
- A brown roux used as a thickener.
The following Edwardian recipe for a browning sauce came from the Pharmaceutical Journal (London) in 1915. It was intended for pharmacists to mix up to sell as a ready-made product to their customers:
“Browning Sauce: Add a few drops to sauces, soups, gravies and stews for extra colour and flavour.
Granulated sugar 32 oz.
Water 32 oz.
Indian soy 16 oz.
Walnut ketchup 3 oz.
Mushroom ketchup 3 oz.
Combine all the ingredients in a pan over a high heat, stirring well. When thoroughly mixed, allow to cool and bottle for use.” — Eastoe, Jane. Victorian Pharmacy. London, England: Pavilion. 2010. Page 85.