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Marmite Yeast Extract: Why I Can't Live Without It

One of my earliest recollections of food is my mother feeding me Ryvita and Marmite during World War II, when I was about three years old.

Jar of Marmite on my kitchen counter

Jar of Marmite on my kitchen counter

What Is Marmite?

Marmite is a traditional British savoury spread that is made from yeast. It has a distinctive strong, salty flavour, and it is very popular throughout the British Isles. The man who discovered that yeast, a by-product of beer brewing that could actually be used as a well-loved spread, must have made a fortune.

What Is It Like?

Marmite has a sticky consistency and a dark brown colour, and it is usually spread thinly on buttered bread, toast or savoury biscuits. Because of its pungent taste, it is not universally liked; hence the advertising slogan, "Marmite—love it or hate it".

I am among the ranks of Marmite lovers. In fact, if I don't have it for a few days, I have cravings that must be satisfied, and only Marmite will do.

Can Vegetarians Eat It?

You might be interested to know that, unlike Bovril, which is fairly similar, Marmite does not contain any meat extract, so it is acceptable to vegetarians.

This is my favourite breakfast: boiled egg and Marmite on toast

This is my favourite breakfast: boiled egg and Marmite on toast

My Marmite Memories

One of my earliest recollections of food is my mother feeding me Ryvita and Marmite during the War when I was about three years old. This means I've been eating Marmite for over seventy years ... I wonder how many bottles I've consumed in that time.

Many other foods were in short supply during the World War II era, and Marmite was known to be good for you, as it is high in various B-Vitamins. It was even given out as part of army rations. Everyone in our family loves it, so I don't know who the people are who hate it, but it certainly isn't us.

My favourite way of eating Marmite is to spread a little butter onto toast or very fresh bread and then smear it with Marmite, as an accompaniment to my boiled eggs, instead of using salt. This, to me, is the ultimate comfort food, and I have it most days for breakfast. You might think that the strong flavour would drown the taste of the egg, but, funnily enough, it doesn't—it seems to enhance it.

Many years ago, I was invited to travel to Abu Dhabi in the Middle East before it was developed, and the friend I was visiting begged me to bring over six pots of Marmite because he loved it so much. Of course, I did so, but I had to laugh when I discovered it in a supermarket there—he'd thought it was impossible to buy out there, but I suspect that wherever you find a lot of Brits living, you'll find Marmite because it's part of the staple diet of the British.

Marmite in My Home

I keep an extra bottle of Marmite in my store cupboard at all times, so I never run out.

How I Use Marmite

  • I use it as an alternative to salt, so when I have boiled egg and toast, my usual breakfast, I don't use any salt at all; I just spread some Marmite on my toast
  • Occasionally I fancy some peanut butter on bread, and this is much enhanced with a smear of Marmite on top. I've recently tried it with almond and coconut peanut butter and can solemnly pronounce it "out of this world."
  • Marmite is delicious in tomato and chicken sandwiches - again, this is because both those foods taste better with salt or something which tastes salty, like Marmite. So now I always always spread Marmite on one side of the bread in my sandwich
  • When the jar is empty, and I've scraped out all the Marmite I can, I swill the jar around with very hot (not boiling) water and use the dark brown mixture when making gravy or soup—it gives it a nice tang. I don't pour boiling water into the glass jar because the intense heat could cause it to shatter

Do try these ideas if you like Marmite. You'll be amazed and delighted.

This tweet from August 18, 2019, was reported on in newspapers. However, the tweeter confirmed he'd said it for a laugh.

This tweet from August 18, 2019, was reported on in newspapers. However, the tweeter confirmed he'd said it for a laugh.

Other Ways to Buy Marmite

There is also a Limited Edition of Matured Marmite—stronger and a lot more expensive. I was stunned to find that Marmite XO, as it is called, is now out of production, and I saw it selling on the internet in October 2016 for up to £75, and even the empty bottle was being sold for about £5. What a shame that I ate mine and only threw away the bottle a couple of years ago!

I must have had a premonition because I took this photo of this limited edition Marmite XO in a local London store a couple of years ago. The value has since increased nine-fold!

I must have had a premonition because I took this photo of this limited edition Marmite XO in a local London store a couple of years ago. The value has since increased nine-fold!

Reduced-Salt Marmite

I am trying to cut down my salt intake, so I thought I would see how reduced-salt Marmite compares with the original. I found it slightly thicker and a bit different, obviously, but it definitely tastes good. I have now bought it several times and use it as the standard rather than the saltier version.

Marmite Peanut Butter

When I discovered Marmite peanut butter, I had to try it. Of course, it's delicious. I used it on toast to accompany boiled eggs, which I have most days for breakfast. You can get it crunchy or smooth.

The Marmite flavour blends well with peanut butter and tastes delicious, but slightly milder than it would be if you were to spread your own Marmite on a separate peanut butter. Try it and see what you think. And remember, you can buy it either smooth or crunchy.

Nut spreads seem to be all the rage at present, and I don't know why they weren't brought out decades ago as a popular range. I must confess that having tried the Marmite peanut butter version, I actually prefer low-salt Marmite spread over coconut or almond peanut butter on my toast, so I do hope the producers of Marmite follow the trend and produce their own brand, as it's a nuisance having to spread two items on one piece of toast, instead of having it done for you at the factory!