Why Marmite Is Essential For Every Home Pantry

For some British expats, Marmite is almost worth its weight in gold. According to Kitchn, Marmite is primarily made from yeast extract, which was originally a byproduct of beer brewing, and other secret vegetable and spice extracts. The result is a flavor that is hard to describe as anything other than Marmite.

That Marmite flavor is extremely divisive. In fact, the slogan for Marmite is either you "love it or you hate it," per The Guardian. This is so much the case that the general concept has entered popular culture. For example, the British comedian Dave Gorman wrote an entire segment on the popular expression Marmite person, which refers to being loved by some and absolutely hated by others. Some researchers even attempted to see if there was a genetic component to the extreme reactions (per i). However, like cilantro, the divergence is more complicated than a simple gene being turned off or on like a light switch.

Marmite is jarred umami

If you happen to be a Marmite lover, you probably already know that Marmite is both a good umami addition to dishes as well as a good vegan source for vitamin B.

While Serious Eats cautions against excessive Marmite consumption due to its 11 grams of salt per 100 grams, it quotes its contributor, chef J. Kenji López-Alt, in saying that Marmite is one of his "'umami bombs:' a way to add a deep, rich savory quality to recipes without changing their flavor profile." One recipe given to the Toronto Star by Karon Liu uses half a tablespoon of Marmite to glaze a steak. One person explained to The Guardian that the salty umami quality of Marmite also makes it a helpful ingredient for anyone who has given up meat.

Outside of flavoring, Marmite also has a reputation for being healthy. The BBC refers to its use in soldiers' rations in both World Wars and how it contains vitamin B-12 and folic acid. This has led to various studies, like one covered by HuffPost in which the University of York found some evidence that consuming some Marmite each day could lead to a healthier brain.

However, because the spread is so divisive, people may feel similarly to the American Warren Hoge's reaction in The New York Times: "Utilitarian it may be, but there are problems. Kiss someone who has just eaten Marmite, and you'll think you were licking paint."