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Caramel Colors for Sauces and Seasonings


Sethness liquid and powdered Caramel Colors and Caramelized Sugar Syrups are used in a variety of sauces and seasoning applications including:

  • BBQ sauces
  • Gravy and gravy bases
  • Soy sauce and fish sauce
  • Pancake and waffle syrup
  • Flavoring extracts
  • Vinegars
  • Seasoning mixes
  • Meat rubs
  • Poultry coatings
Caramel Color in BBQ Sauces

Sethness liquid Caramel Colors are primarily used in BBQ sauce applications; however in some instances powdered Caramel Colors can be used. Our liquid Caramel Colors offer tones from dark red to light brown to dark brown. Sethness can also provide the perfect Caramel Color for high salt content sauces, and applications that require low sulfite, positively charged Caramel Colors.

Caramel Color in Gravy and Gravy Bases

Gravies and gravy bases utilize a number of Sethness Caramel Colors to provide the perfect hue for rich looking gravies. Dry gravy base formulations must consider whether the final color will be in liquid or dry form. In dry applications, a salt and pepper effect can occur when the powdered Caramel Color particle size interacts with the spices, salts, or fillers. Pre-mixing steps are recommended to minimize this effect.

Caramel Color in Soy Sauce and Fish Sauce

Salt content plays an important role in soy and fish sauce applications. These sauces can contain as much as 20-25% salt in addition to the protein from wheat or soybeans. The Sethness Caramel Color used must be compatible with the salt level and the protein (which are positively charged), or the resulting mixture may become hazy or form a precipitate (sedimentation).

Sethness offers two varieties or classes of salt-stable Caramel Colors. Our positively charged, low-sulfite Class III Caramel Colors are manufactured using ammonia reactant and provides excellent reddish-brown tones, and they are extremely stable in soy sauces.

Sethness also offers Class I (Plain) Caramel Colors that are processed without using any reactants. Our Class I SC105 Caramel Color was developed especially for delicate, premium, reddish soy sauces. It is very mild in flavor and carries a slightly negative to neutral charge.

We recommend that Sethness Caramel Colors are added, along with soy extract and other spices, as early in the process as possible and before cooking. There should be an additional refining process after cooking, which will result in some color loss. At this time, the dosage of caramel should be adjusted accordingly.

Caramel Color in Pancake and Waffle Syrups

Caramel Color is the most widely used colorant in the pancake and waffle syrups. Some of our Sethness liquid Caramel Colors are recommended because of their overall color strength with minimal flavor impact.

Caramel Color in Flavoring Extracts

Sethness Caramel Color is often used in flavoring extracts to improve the darkness or redness of the products. Some of our liquid Caramel Colors are recommended for darker tones, while our Sethness Caramelized Sugar Syrups are used to deliver sweet notes to the flavors.

Caramel Color in Vinegars

In vinegar applications, the ionic charge of the Caramel Colors is critical. Sethness recommends that the vinegar be tested with both positive and negative Caramel Colors in order to see which ionic charge works best.

When vinegar is made from acetic acid, both positive and negative Sethness Caramel Colors work well. If the vinegar is made from natural sources such as grapes or apples, the ionic character may vary. During clarification, bentonite may add positive aluminum ions to the solution. Typically, in these cases, positively-charged Caramel Colors work best.

To perform an ionic compatibility test, simply add a little Sethness Caramel Color to the vinegar and let it sit overnight. The following day, the samples should be examined for sedimentation or turbidity. While sedimentation is easily seen using normal light, turbidity is best checked using a strong backlight such as a microscope lamp. If turbidity or sediments form, there is going to be a problem.

In summary, when working with a vinegar application, the ionic character as well as hue and color strength needs to be evaluated. To ensure a successful formulation, the Caramel Color must be tested for precipitation due to ionic interactions.

Caramel Color in Seasoning Mixes

The use of powdered Caramel Color in seasoning mixes can help enhance the color. Sethness Caramel Color can add redness and also contribute to the darkening and controlling of brown tones. Knowing the salt content of the seasoning mix is also very important in choosing the correct Sethness Caramel Color.

Sethness offers excellent red-toned Caramel Colors for paprika, chili, and in BBQ and dried mustard blends. Darker-toned Caramel Colors are commonly used in darker meat rubs and instant noodle seasonings.

Caramel Color in Meat Rubs

Both liquid and powdered Sethness Caramel Color can be used in meat rubs. In some applications, Caramel Color is applied directly onto the exterior of the meat. Negatively-charged Caramel Colors tend to soak into the meat, while positively-charged Caramel Colors tend to stick to the exterior of the products.

Caramel Color in Poultry Coatings

Sethness’ Class I liquid Caramel Colors such as YT25 and YT90 are recommended for poultry coatings as they create excellent golden tones in poultry coatings. Sethness also provides powdered Caramel Colors that offer a nice reddish blend.