What is Marmite?
Marmite is a thick, sticky, brown spread made from yeast extract. Yeast extract, which is a byproduct of the brewing industry is vegetarian, gluten free, and has a high nutritional content. Marmite is popular throughout the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and South Africa and is praised for its characteristically pungent flavor. Marmite is well known for evoking a love or hate reaction, which the manufacturer fully embraces and even features in it sadvertising campaign.
Marmite HistoryIn the late 19th century the German scientist, Justus Leibig, discovered that when brewer’s yeast was concentrated, it formed a vegetarian paste that closely resembled meat extract. This extract was first commercially produced in 1902 when the Marmite Food Company Limited was formed.
Marmite did not begin to gain popularity until about ten years later when vitamins were discovered and their importance touted to the public. Yeast extract is inexpensive and a natural source of B vitamins, which lead Marmite to become a popular spread served in schools, hospitals, and to military personnel. Today, Marmite is fortified with extra B vitamins, further increasing its nutritional value.
Marmite was named after the round earthenware pots that it was originally sold in during the early 20th century. Today, marmite is sold in small glass or plastic jars that resemble the original marmite pots.
Nutritional Content of MarmiteMarmite contains a few simple ingredients: yeast extract, salt, vegetable extract, spices, and vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B9, B12). Marmite is vegetarian, gluten free, low in calories, and high in vitamins, providing nearly 50% of the RDA for folic acid per serving. Although Marmite has a high sodium content, it is usually used sparingly so the sodium content per serving is relatively normal.
What do I do with MarmiteThe most common use is as a spread on toast or in sandwiches. Note: it is generally spread very thinly because of its strong flavor—don't use it like jam. It has drug-like qualities; the more you eat, the thicker you need to spread it to get the same mouth-burning effect. Some people have even called it addictive.
It is also delicious spread on hot buttered crumpets or ryvita crackers. A pregnant fan has reported a love for Marmite and bananas.
Phil Johnson's favorite way to eat it is thinly-spread on rye toast with slices of sharp cheddar cheese. Very satisfying.
One contributor to the "I love Marmite" Web site has this suggestion: "Eat it on raw spaghetti. It's true! Dip raw spaghetti in Marmite and then eat; it tastes just like Twiglets."
A lot of Brits have it on buttered toast. Do take care not to get butter or bread crumbs in the Marmite jar. It makes an unappetizing mess for the next person.
There is no feeling like the smugness you feel when you manage to scrape just enough Marmite from the jar for another piece of toast. Top tip (from James Kew): pour boiling water into a near-empty jar and drink the jar clean.
A teaspoon of Marmite can also be added to soups, casseroles, and almost any savory food for a wonderful, rich flavoring.
In England, pretzel-like morsels and other boxed fast-food snacks are available with Marmite flavoring. Fans of Mr. Bean will remember an episode where he made hors d'oeuvres for a party by spreading Marmite on twigs cut from a tree outside his kitchen window.
In some neighborhoods it is (apparently!) common for nursing mothers to dab a little on their nipples before feeding their infants.
There are reports that some balding men have tried smearing Marmite on their heads to promote hair growth. No assessment of whether it works, however.
One reader of this FAQ writes: "I found you while surfing for Marmite. I don't know whom to tell but I think I have made a discovery. I used to get a lot of night cramps and took quinine. I did not like to take it every night and if I got a cramp I would eat a bit of salt. Because this makes me nauseous I tried Marmite. It stopped the cramp quite quickly. Then I started taking a teaspoonful of Marmite before going to sleep and I never get cramps now unless I forget to take it. This seems useful and I would like to share it."
Of course this is anecdotal and the keepers of this FAQ hereby officially disavow all claims about medicinal uses of Marmite—especially the suggestion, made by an American, that Marmite is very effective as a topical ointment in the treatment of haemorrhoids.
How to Eat MarmiteMarmite is most popularly eaten as a spread on toast or crackers. Unlike spreading jam or peanut butter, Marmite must be spread paper thin due to its highly concentrated flavor. Some enjoy Marmite with butter on toast, which mellows the flavor just slightly.
Marmite is also popularly paired with cheese. Whether it is used as a spread on cheese sandwiches or used to make cheese crackers, Marmite and cheese are great flavor companions.
The uses for Marmite are so vast that in 2003, Paul Hartley wrote and published The Marmite Cookbookwith 80 pages of unique Marmite uses.
Where to Buy MarmiteMarmite is distributed widely throughout the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand and to a lesser extent throughout Southeast Asia. In the United States, Marmite can be found in European import stores and health food stores. In addition to brick and mortar establishments, Marmite is widely available through online retailers.
What do you want to hear? – that Marmite can be found three blocks away in your local specialty food shop? Actually it may be. It is available in many Whole Foods Markets but may come and go in independent specialty foods stores. It is available in some supermarkets. There are many online sources