Bisto Ingredients

by Michele Noonan

Bisto gravy consists of a very basic recipe, without almost no additives.

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Bisto gravy powder is marketed by the maker of Bisto as England's favorite brand of gravy. Bisto powder is mixed with water or meat juices as well as additional seasonings to produce liquid gravy. Bisto gravy is known for its ability to "brown, season and thicken, in one." Bisto can be use as a gravy for potatoes, pot roasts, pies, sausages, casseroles, curries and stir-fries.


Bisto powder contains only two flavorings: salt and onion powder. Original Bisto powder does not come with many herbs or other flavors so that the cook add her own herbs or meat drippings. Other versions of Bisto, including Bisto granules, come in additional flavors such as onion and chicken.


Bisto contains two types of starches, potato starch and wheat starch. Starch is used to thicken the gravy so when water, stock or meat drippings are added the gravy is not too thin. Potato starch and wheat starch likely add more flavor and can withstand high temperatures better than alternatives such as flour or cornstarch.


Dried yeast is a third ingredient in Bisto. Unlike the baker's yeast found in bread recipes, the yeast in Bisto is brewer's yeast. Brewer's yeast is inactive, comes in flake or powder form and is made from beet molasses and sugar cane. Brewer's yeast has a strong flavor resembling nuts and cheese and is often used by vegans to add umami flavor to dishes that cannot have cheese.


The final ingredient in Bisto is color E150c. Color E150c, commonly known as caramel coloring, is classified as an ammonia caramel or Class III caramel. It has a brown color which is made by dry heating and burning of sugar in the presence of ammonia, a process called caramelization. E150c coloring can be eaten by vegetarians, vegans and any religious group.

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About the Author

Dr. Michele Noonan is author of "Train Your Brain To Get Thin," has published in journals including the "Journal of Neuroscience" and appears as a science expert on TV and radio shows. Noonan is a former Caltech scientist with a Ph.D. in neuroscience from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and a psychology B.A. from Boston College.