For those who do not know what it is, it is a yeast extract obtained from beer production waste, more precisely from the scraping of the fermentation tanks, with the addition of other ingredients such as salt, concentrated vegetable juice, vitamins like vitamin B12 and folic acid and some natural flavours like celery and onions.
Marmite is a dark brown, almost black in colour, glossy, slightly sticky and very pasty spread.
Marmite can be found in all supermarkets in the United Kingdom and if you visit any “respectable” (I’m joking of course) English family you’ll find it in their cupboard so it is impossible not to notice this product upon arriving to the UK.
English advertise it as “Love it or Hate it!” and that’s exactly how it is!
You either fall madly in love with it at first taste or you’ll dislike it for the rest of your days.
No middle ground.
I read it was first produced in the United Kingdom at the beginning of the 20th century when a German scientist discovered the possibility of synthesizing the yeast extract obtained as a by-product of beer production and then he realized it was edible.
Edible does not necessarily mean good to me…but I’ll talk more about that later…
A few years later, Marmite became extremely popular and its great nutritional benefits led it to be one of the most popular food items around the UK.
Apparently, it was a food item strongly recommended to soldiers during World War I due to its high content of B vitamins and minerals and that’s understandable: easy to carry, highly concentrated and not easily perishable are certainly good qualities for a food item in war times.
The term Marmite is not English, as one might think, but it comes from French because once the spreads were sold in an earthenware pot called indeed marmite, which is why on the package label there is the image of a pot.
It is usually eaten in the morning on toasted bread: you should spread about 1 millimetre (a veil of Marmite) on the slice of bread together with some butter (on top of the butter).
Some people use plenty of it on their toast and it’s gross other than very unhealthy because Marmite has a very high content of salt/sodium which may clog your arteries and lead you to serious health problems if you abuse of it.
I tried it of course and I fall in the category of those who hate it unfortunately…
In the end, I used Marmite to flavour stews, egg omelettes and even to make broth once but that was the only time I ever bought a jar of it.
I never bought it again!
Despite being a completely vegetarian product, it has a slight meat flavour, it’s very salty and what I generally answer to my foreign or Italian friends when they ask me what it tastes like is “It tastes like a spreadable stock cube.”
I know that in Australia and New Zealand they seem to have something similar but different called Vegemite and there is an eternal ‘competition’ between the two.
Both come from yeast extracts but the addition of different plant extracts and natural flavourings would give them slightly different flavours.
It seems cultural that British people prefer Marmite because they are used to it since childhood, whereas Australians and New Zealanders seem to prefer Vegemite for the same reasons.
Marmite among other spreads in housemate’s cupboard