Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Marmite - love it or hate it?

With the return to school this week, there's been a lot of talk about packed lunches in the blogosphere.

There's no question that taking your own lunch to school or work, will save you a lot of cash in the long term.  Sandwiches, salads and last night's leftovers are all popular midday options with frugal blog commenters.




They're popular here too, and although we deviate sometimes, our packed lunch formula is generally:

sandwich/pitta/wrap/roll + tomatoes/pepper/carrot/cucumber + fruit 

+ one treaty thing such as flapjack/yogurt/crisps/small cake

If you're going to save even more money on lunch, then frugal sandwich fillings will be on your mind, and top of that list for me, is yeast extract (also known as Marmite or Vegemite to some)! We like it on its own, or with cheese or cucumber.  And a PBM is good too!



For those of you unfamiliar with the black gold that is yeast extract, it's the substance that results when yeast is broken down into its constituent components.  It's rich in B vitamins, particularly B12, which has made it a godsend for vegetarians, and it has a rich, salty, savoury flavour, that stimulates the savoury or 'unami' taste receptors.

The brand Marmite is produced by Unilever, and is well known for its 'Love it or hate it!' slogan, and bright yellow packaging.  


Marmite: Marmite Union Jack Yellow Mug

They've transformed Marmite into a celebrity with its own mechandise, spin-off food stuffs containing Marmite, such as bread sticks, rice cakes and even chocolate, and of course it has a website.

Personally I prefer to stick with the own-brand yeast extracts which are usually cheaper, or the whole food alternatives. Meridian and Natex both produce low salt options, as well as the usual version.


Meridian Yeast Extract No Salt 340gNatex Original Yeast Extract 225g


Additional benefits of yeast extract are:


  • a jar lasts forever; it may cost £2 or £3 but you only need a very thin scraping on your bread and butter.
  • it's a local product - a by-product of the brewing industry, it's made in the UK
  • it comes in a glass jar, so is eco-friendly
  • it can be used in all sorts of other dishes; I stick a judicious amount in gravy, pies and sauces.
  • the vitamin, niacin, which is contained in yeast extract, may help ward off hospital superbugs such as MRSA, according to new research.


As with any food product these days, there is a flip-side.  In Denmark, Marmite was banned last year, due to its high vitamin levels.  It also contains naturally occuring 'glutamate', which perhaps explains why it is so yummy.  Monosodium Glutamate as a synthetic flavour enhancer, is perceived as a baddie, due to its health effects, however free glutamate also occurs naturally in a number of common proteins, such as dairy products, meat, mushrooms and tomatoes.  It may be that factory-produced MSG has a more negative affect on the body than glutamate in its natural forms, as it is used in higher and more concentrated amounts, when added to commercial food products.

Marmite or yeast extract, has been my constant companion through life.  One of my earliest memories is of my granny spreading it thickly onto toast for breakfast (I suspect Marmite had the same status as malt and cod liver oil), and it kept me healthy through my student years and various hitch-hiking trips around Europe, where marmite, bread and tomatoes were the staple diet.  I note the health issues, regarding salt and glutamate, but I think that thinly spread, the benefits of yeast extract probably outweigh the potential concerns.

If I haven't convinced you that yeast extract is a good thing, then perhaps Martha Stewart will in this blogpost!

And David Mitchell challenges the love/hate marmite advertising campaign in this video!

 

Are you a Marmite lover or hater? Or do you 'not mind' it, like David Mitchell!  And what's your favourite frugal sandwich filling? Maybe you've been affected by Marmageddon in New Zealand? (Apparently there have been yeast extract shortages in New Zealand due to the producer's factory suffering earthquake damage).

Disclaimer: I am not a qualified nutritionist!  This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for getting professional medical or dietary advice!

I wasn't remunerated by any of the companies named above.  I just really like yeast extract!

The Ecologist and The Independent provided useful information for researching this blog post.

18 comments:

  1. I have never had yeast extract, Marmite or Vegimite. It sounds really interesting though, I'd love to give them a try!

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    1. Can you get it in the US? Maybe start off with the smallest jar you can find!

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  2. I just found your blog thanks to Creative Savv. Of course the first post I read brings back memories of the only time I was introduced to this. I found it disgusting, sorry. It must be one of those things that are an acquired taste.

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    1. Thanks for visiting via Lili's blog! Don't let Marmite put you off the blog...only last week I was blogging about afternoon tea and scones with cream and jam...that might be more to your taste!!

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  3. I once saw a video clip of two American guys intrepidly sampling the black stuff. They spread it 3 mm thick over every inch of the bread before pronouncing it inedible. Glad to see your photo demonstrates the proper coverage of Marmite. David Mitchell talks sense -I like it but I don't love it. My favourite Marmite based sandwich is cheese, cucumber and Marmite.

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    1. Even the most ardent Marmite lover like Angela below, would balk at a 3mm layer! Cheese, cuke and marmite is one of my favourites too.

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  4. LOVE LOVE LOVE it!! But it must be the pukka stuff - not Asda or Sainsbury copies, or Vegemite. And yes it must be thinly spread.
    I love it spread thinly on a piece of toast before the eggs go on top
    And I put a tbsp into casseroles to boost the flavour
    And in cucumber sandwiches
    And...and...and...
    Al that Vitamin B must be good for me, surely?
    blessings xx

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    1. Great to see a loyal Marmite lover here! But still, my favourite would have to be the Meridian yeast extract...it's browner, and slightly milder than pure Marmite. I'm with you on the eggs and marmite though! I meant to include the delights of Marmite soldiers and boiled eggs in the blog post. I like it with beans on toast too. And...and...and...

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  5. Hmmm... I've heard of Vegamite, but not tried it. I'm going to have to think about it a while before I make up my mind if I'm going to. Sounds like it would be good for me though.

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    1. It's possibly not the kind of thing you should over-think...maybe you should just jump in there. I don't have any experience of people converting to Marmite in later life...I only know lifelong Marmite lovers or haters! I would hate to see it appearing on one of your Food Waste Friday posts - I'd feel really responsible although it would be a good 'I spy the colour brown' item!

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  6. Hi Sarah,
    Interesting. I like that it's so high in B vitamins. Well, if I ever get an opportunity to try it, I definitely will (now that I know it's not made from some sort of furry animal!)

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    1. It's 100% vegetarian - no marmosets, marmots, marlin, marsupials or martens involved!!

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  7. I'm a Vegemite fan (being Australian I have to be!), although I do go through phases where I eat it and phases when I don't. When I was doing volunteer work in Europe some of the English volunteers had some Marmite and it was slightly different to Vegemite (more liquidy I think and a slightly different flavour).

    It's wonderful on toast when you have an upset stomach, and I like it with tomatoes too. And when camping I remember eating a Peanut butter, honey, Vegemite and avocado sandwich, but I imagine that wouldn't taste quite as good at home :)

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    1. There's always room in my heart for another brand of yeast extract, so I'm going to give Vegemite a go next time we need to stock up! I like it when I'm poorly too, and with grilled tomatoes. I've given PB, honey, marmite and banana a go in the past, so your avocado combo isn't so strange!

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  8. Oh dear wrote 2 comments to this and lost both! This one will get through?
    Third time lucky....
    I'm with David Mitchell (I have a bit of a thing for him anyway - very funny - and interestingly I linked to him on a blog post last Christmas over at mine) I don't mind it but it has to be applied sparingly to my toast. I add Branston pickle also - Yummy!
    Did you know Denmark has banned it?
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/24/denmark-bans-marmite

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    1. I've never tried marmite and pickle...Yes, it's strange that Denmark banned it, not for the glutamate issue but the high levels of vitamins!

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  9. Hi! I found your blog via a comment on Sue's blog, who I found via a comment on Frugal Queen's blog! I wrote a post with a recipe for my favourite sandwich! Marmite! I also cobbled together a quick poem dedicated to the black stuff!
    Can't link as I'm on my phone but it's a post calked "sandwiches, socks and school " !
    I once bought vegemite but the smell of it turned my stomach so I didn't try it! I do love finding fab new blogs to read x Rachel

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    1. Welcome Rachel! I shall definitely pop over and have a look at your marmite post! After the discussion on here, we had to buy some vegemite and conducted a taste test...the 9 year old claimed to be able to tell the difference but to my old taste buds the Asda yeast extract and vegemite are pretty much indistinguishable! It is definitely more solid in the jar though!

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