What is Vegemite and What Does it Taste Like
A Salty, rich, and flavoursome spread, vegemite is an Australian staple that has recently been taking the rest of the world by storm. Although most Americans aren’t familiar with the stuff, to Australian kids a vegemite sandwich is pretty much equivalent to the classic PB&J.
If you’re wondering what the fuss is all about read on, as we run through what vegemite is, where it comes from, and how to eat vegemite.
Vegemite can trace its history back to 1922, when Fred Walker, a native of Melbourne, Australia, set out to develop a nourishing yeast extract that his cheese company could sell.
With a base of brewers’ yeast – typically used in the production of beer, Walker’s head scientist, Dr Cyril Callister, invented the now famous spread. He added ingredients including celery, salt, onion, and a few secret ingredients. Walker’s daughter, Sheila, stepped in to give the spread its current name: vegemite had been born.
Because of its intense flavor, vegemite wasn’t an immediate success. Gradually, though, lovers of the English yeast spread, Marmite, began to take notice. In the Vegemite vs Marmite debate, Vegemite began to win out. Marmite is a very similar product, also made from yeast extract, and invented by a scientist named Justus von Liebig in the 1800s.
Vegemite’s success was consolidated in 1935, when Walker encouraged Australians to try it by giving away free jars with each of his cheese products.
By the time World War II began, vegemite was so well-regarded as a nutritious foodstuff that soldiers’ rations included an eight ounce tin.
Vegemite has a texture that’s slightly runnier than jam. It’s dark brown, almost black, in color, and very smooth and shiny.
Vegemite is usually sold in tins or jars, making it easy to spread on, or spoon into, almost anything.
Unlike Marmite, Vegemite isn’t pure yeast extract. It also contains a range of vegetables and a secret spice blend that affect the taste.
The first thing you’ll notice about Vegemite is how salty it is. Next, you’ll taste a bitterness, accompanied by an almost meaty flavor. Because of this meatiness, it’s often used by vegetarians and vegans to substitute the tang of meat products.
This taste is paired with a silky texture, which is easy to spread and spoon. Overall, it’s a unique flavor profile that can often be an acquired taste. Because the flavor is so strong, Vegemite should be used sparingly.
Now you know what Vegemite is and how it tastes, you’re probably wondering about vegemite nutrition.
Despite being quite salty, Vegemite is rich in a number of beneficial nutrients. These are:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B9 (folate)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
Just a few teaspoon-sized servings of Vegemite will provide adults with 100% of their B vitamin requirements for the day, in fact.
B vitamins are important for a healthy nervous system, and also support your body’s ability to break down food for energy. Certain forms, like vitamin B12, also help support healthy hair, skin, and nails.
As well as being rich in B vitamins, Vegemite also has the advantage of being low in carbohydrates and fat.
With over 22 million jars of Vegemite sold in Australia each year, it’s a real staple of australian food.
Besides the classic Vegemite sandwich, there are plenty of quick and easy recipes for those of you who want to give the rich yeast extract a go.
Try a few of the following uses for a deliciously rich outcome:
- Vegemite beef pies
You can add a unique kick to your beef pie recipe by adding a few spoonfuls to your regular filling. It’s not just beef pies that can benefit either. You can also give vegetable fillings a meaty kick.
- Sandwiches and toast
It probably goes without saying, but Vegemite can work wonders on toast and bread. Only a little of the spread is required for each serving. Some Vegemite lovers also recommend adding the spread to another staple: avocado toast.
As well as pies, savory pastries can often benefit from a Vegemite kick. Cheese twists or scrolls are one great example where the spread can really shine.
To add a little something extra to any gravy, Vegemite can provide a rich, meaty kick. Vegetarian options like onion gravy can particularly benefit from the Vegemite treatment.