October 30, 2008

Burnett's Color Paste

Doubly Delicious Desserts (not dated, 48 pages) was one of several recipe booklets published by the Joseph Burnett Company of Boston, Massachusetts. Although the booklet is not dated, magazine and other periodical advertisements from the late 1920s and early 1930s contain mail-in offers for this title.

The color illustrations, all signed by a Mary Briggs, are similar to many other illustrations found in recipe booklets and cookbooks of this same time period. I wonder if she was an in-house illustrator or if she had her work published in other cookbooks?

The Joseph Burnett Co. was established in 1847 in the city of Boston. Besides Vanilla extract, their flagship product, they were also known for manufacturing personal and medicinal items, eventually expanding their product line to include extracts in over thirty other flavors, spices and color pastes that could be used to decorate and enhance the appearance of foods. In later years the company also produced ice cream mixes, muffin mixes and pudding mixes.

Besides the food illustrations, the only other illustration in the booklet is this one of their company located at 437-447 D St. in Boston.

The booklet title might indicate that only dessert recipes are to be found inside. It does cover this realm adequately, with recipes for cookies, cakes, frostings, candy, pies, ice cream, puddings and jellies. To reflect the new popularity and affordability of electric refrigerators, the booklet also includes recipes for both frozen and refrigerator desserts.

Besides sweets, the booklet also contains recipes for beverages, sauces, sandwiches, curry, poultry dressings along with a few recipes for main dishes, salads and soups.

I always like how these older cookbooks suggest ideas for an invalid diet. A menu suggestion and recipes are recommended for an "Invalid's Tray" which had the indisposed person ingesting Chocolate Mint Egg-Nog, Creamed Chicken and Snow Pudding with Custard Sauce.

Burnett's Color Paste, introduced around 1894, is one of the Burnett products featured prominently in the recipes. This photo of a box containing a 1/4 ounce jar of Burnett's Color Paste is not from the recipe booklet but from another advertising leaflet.

Although I'm not sure of the original colors, the Burnett's Color Pastes available in 1906 included these colors with fanciful, descriptive names: Leaf Green, Mandarin Orange, Fruit Red, Golden Yellow, Damask Rose, Violet, Caramel, Chestnut, Salmon and Imperial Blue.

By 1918, the fanciful names had been dropped in favor of those far more plain: Orange, Caramel, Blue, Rose, Green, Yellow, Scarlet, Chestnut and Red.

These same colors, with the addition of a Crimson (possibly a renamed Scarlet?), Violet, Pink and Black were the colors available about the time Doubly Delicious Desserts was published.

By 1933, the colors were available in both paste and tablet form and the color paste list included little more than the basics: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Violet, Blue and Rose.

Sometime around 1939, the company also introduced Burnett's Liquid Color, in a "Color Kit," which was a small rectangular box containing four bottles of food coloring in the primary colors colors of Red, Blue and Yellow and also the secondary color Green.

In the event one needed help in deciding what to do with the color pastes, the booklet listed these ideas:


To Color Fruit - If using fresh fruit, use water as the liquid. If using canned fruit use fruit juice as the liquid. Bring liquid to boil and add enough Burnett's Color Paste to give the desired color. Place pieces of fruit in the liquid and allow to stand until cold or until fruit has taken up the desired color. Fruit will absorb color. Pears, pineapple, apple, white cherries, lemon or peaches can be colored in this way.

To Color Frosting - Place a small amount of Burnett's Color Paste on the side of the bowl in which you have made the frosting until you hve the desired color. The smaller amount used the more delicate the color. In making two or three different colors divide frosting and proceed as above.

To Color Water - Use just enough to color.

To Color Cream - Color as desired.

To Color Flowers - Slit stem three times, about one inch up, and let stand in a cool place for twenty-four hours, in water which has been well colored, say one-quarter of a jar to a tumbler of water. White flowers can be colored any shade to match any color scheme in this way.

To Color Ice Cubes in Electric Refrigerator - (a) Whole cubes may be colored one color. (b) White cubes may have colored centers. Place clear water in the icing pan and set in icing unit for about one hour. Remove cubes from pan and punch hole in each cube, and allow water in center to drain out. Refill each cube with cold water which has been colored any desired shade with Burnett's Color Paste and continue freezing.

To Color Cream Cheese for Sandwiches.

To Color Easter Eggs.

To Color Hard-Cooked Eggs for a Garnish.

To Color Granulated Sugar - Take a small amount of granulated sugar, as much Burnett's Color Paste as can be held on the end of a sharp pointed paring knife, and a few drops of water. Work with the fingers until the sugar has taken up the color. Allow to dry and roll out umps with a rolling pin, or break up with the fingers.

To Color Cocoanut -- Color same as fruit. Allow cocoanut to dry before using.

To Color Cake Batter - Delicate shades of pink and chocolate for the checkerboard cake.

Yellow color paste is used with flour or cornstarch to substitue for egg yolks, in fillings and boiled dressings.

The Caramel Color Paste will darken gravies and soups.

It's difficult to imagine anyone today, or even back then, taking the time to make the ice cubes with colored centers. Well, maybe for a small luncheon for four, but certainly not a party for thirty. (Not that the ice unit would have held that many cubes anyway.) Many of the other suggestions remain as common uses for food colorings today.

The photo below shows some suggested color schemes that could be achieved using Burnett's Color Pastes, Extracts and Spices.

What did folks do before the convenience of commerically produced color pastes and liquid food colorings in nice, neat little jars and bottles? The Old Foodie has several posts earlier this month (Oct. 6-9) that address this very question.


At 11:28 AM CDT, Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

Oh Kathy what a GREAT post. I never saw this booklet before. Now, of course, I WANT it. You did such a wonderful job describing the products. I LOVE the idea of colorful ice. How "cool" would that be for entertaining in this day and age? Very!

At 10:10 AM CST, Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

"Damask Rose" sounds perfect! I love the illustrations. They have the look of a high-end picture book. And the process of color fruit is pretty fascinating. Might have to try that and see what kinds of results I get.

At 6:07 AM CST, Blogger Kathy said...

Thanks Louise. There's another cute booklet called "Cookies for Rookies" that I'd like to find.

T.W. - One of the recipes suggested adding coloring to the preserved fruit so that it retain it's bright color.

At 1:26 PM CDT, Blogger Sarah said...

Thank you for posting this, I have a 'color kit' box still containing 3 bottles and was wondering about it!


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