Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Marmite - Gluten-Free Treat from the UK



Marmite is a recent discovery for me - an interesting British / United Kingdom Celiac-safe food product I encountered while on vacation in England a week ago. A friend and UK resident turned me on to the product, which I tried after verifying that it was gluten-free, and I am definitely a fan now.

Marmite is one of those gluten-free foods you'll either love or hate. I just don't think there is much middle ground on this one. In fact, the manufacturer knows this to the point that the Marmite web-site home-page has this rather entertaining "love it or hate it" choice for entering their site!

Let me start by describing what Marmite is and what it is made from. Marmite is a completely vegetarian and gluten-free spread that is essentially a yeast-extract spread that is loaded with flavor and has tons of B-Vitamins! The full ingredient list is: Yeast Extract, Salt, Vegetable Extract, Niacin, Thiamin, Spice Extracts, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Celery Extract, and Vitamin B12. The B-Vitamins and yeast and spices make for one seriously intense flavor! It's a bilt salty, and otherwise nearly indescribable as I have little to compare it to.

I first tried Marmite plain, as I didn't have any good gluten-free bread or crackers handy. But, today I tried it on some fresh made gluten-free biscuits my wife baked up (she's experimenting with recipes again). The biscuits were great on their own, and with a bit of Marmite (used sparingly - a "serving" is consider to be 4 grams) they were quite delicious also.

I'm not sure if there is anywhere nearby where I can purchase more Marmite here in the USA. I will keep my eyes open in the international-cuisine aisles and such, and worst case is I'll have a friend ship me a couple more bottles. The friend that introduced me to it has a bit of an addiction to Marmite it seems (he demonstrated eating it plain as he used a squeeze-bottle to dispense enough to fully cover his tongue as his wife watched in disgust), so I'm sure he would be nice enough to mail some to me.

My wife has been considering using Marmite to create some more flavorful gluten-free gravies and other recipes. I'm personally wondering if it'd add a nice yeasty flavor to some gluten-free breads as well. Regardless, I'm already a fan!

21 comments:

Dianne said...

How about breakfast! Half of the people in the UK eat it on toast (GF in our case) with boiled eggs!

Lucy said...

Oh yes, Marmite is the food of the gods, and no mistake. But - Marmite in the squeezy bottle is just plain wrong. Glass jar version is the only way to go ...

And I like my marmite on toast under poached eggs.

Mike Eberhart said...

Lucy and Dianne, it sure sounds like Marmite is a great match for toast and eggs. I will certainly have it ready (in the glass jar I bought) and waiting next time I have the eggs/toast in the morning. Thanks for the feedback!

C.L. Jahn said...

Marmite is widely available in the US; Publix supermarkets carry it in the South Eastern US. Most health food stores will carry it.

Mike Eberhart said...

c.l.,
We don't have Publix near us, but you've given me encouragement to dig deeper into our local Giant Eagle stores to see if they perhaps carry Marmite. Thanks for the tip!

Kim said...

Nice post! You have said it very well. Keep going.

Bekki said...

I see you can buy Marmite online at Amazon.com- even by the case! Thought you'd like to know, if hadn't found a good source yet.

Mike Eberhart said...

bekki,
Thanks for that tip!
You know, I buy various food products from Amazon all the time, and didn't even think to look there. The per-case price doesn't seem bad, though admittedly, that's a lot of marmite even for me :)

Anonymous said...

Cost plus world market stocks it. There doesn't appear to be agreement about whether it is or isn't gluten free... be aware! Love the stuff, but now not eating it. :(

natalie said...

In response to anonymous:
Marmite made in the UK (ie the one featured) is definitively gluten free.

The problem is that there are other products made (principally in our old colonies - like NZ) which call themselves Marmite which may indeed not be gluten free.

I have a couple of jars of NZ marmite. Completely different product - completely different ingredients. My kids eat it cos it has iron in which UK marmite does not. But perhaps it is not gluten free - I have not looked, I hate the stuff but love UK marmite!

StephanieC said...

I really hope that someone can give me a reason with valid proof that UK marmite is gf as I did an at home test which said if contained gluten so I stopped eatin it. I'd love to start again. Ease let me know why you believe it is gf.

Anonymous said...

In the UK, indeed all of the European Union, food manufacturers MUST list if a product contains any ingredients that can give rise to a allergic reaction. Gluten is one of these ingredients. As gluten is not listed as an ingredient you can rest assured that Marmite does not contain any gluten.

I am a UK coeliac, sorry celiac, and love the stuff! I use it in many savory recipes to add taste as well as on toast and with poached eggs etc.

Stephanie said...

Hello all. I have recently discovered that I am celiac. My diet is complicated by the fact that I am also a vegan. Does anyone on here have some tips for me? I have always loved cooking and now find myself having such a drab diet. I love salads, I love soups, I love some gluten-free pastas, but I am eager for more suggestions!

MamaBird Rhonda said...

I was first introduced to Marmite in 1976. Eugene Oregon :) My friend's husband was from England and their children loved it on toast with melted cheese. some butter on gluten free bread. spread a thin layer of Marmite. top with some Jack cheese. I put it in the toaster oven until the cheese bubbles. and it is done. crunchy around the edges. buttery soft melty Marmitey warm tango in my mouth. It's so...comforting. something cozy about it. I need to go fix some right away. It's good any time. You have a nice Blog as far as I can tell. I just found out I have a page here that I never went to. You are my very first comment:)

MamaBird Rhonda said...

I forgot to say that...I buy mine at Earth Fare :)

Anonymous said...

Hi
I have been told today Marmite is NOT Gluten Free - can anyone help?? I know a lot of items have hidden gluten as it is under the guideline limit etc but does anyone know if marmite is one of those borderline products?

Mike Eberhart said...

Anon..,
Well, that is a good question. Since I wrote this article, the information about marmite has changed a bit. In the UK it is considered gluten-free.

Per the marmite website (http://www.marmite.com/love/nutrition/) hints at this in the statement "Marmite contains none of the major allergens".

I have consumed it in small amounts every so often for years without noticing any issues. But, I did see this article arise in 2010 that brings that gluten-free status into question: Marmite gluten-testing results. And, I do find the results a bit concerning when they found trace levels remaining from the yeast to be at around 30ppm (which is a higher level than some consider GF in the USA). As such, this is one of those products you will just have to choose whether is "safe" or not based on that info. There are so many products on the market that are "made without gluten-containing ingredients" and such these days that have not even been tested, I do not know where to begin with what to fully restrict in my diet. Certainly if I react to something, it is out... but, others like Marmite have remained in my diet (in small amounts: like in soups or such I make). So far so good.

Hope that helps. I will amend the primary blog with this information too perhaps, in case people don't read these updated comments.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I would just like to say how very helpfull i have found this blog page to be! Im a 25year old mother of 2 and got married on the 1st of june this year and a few days before my wedding i started to become unwell (which i put down to nerves) however i didnt get better, i was last week diagnosed with coeliac's disease and have been feeling very down about this!
it's nice to have a read through pages like this to realise im not alone, just tell me it gets easier im a GREAT food lover and now find myself facing the same sort of meals all the time.

In comment to the marmite situation..... which is why im on this page.... i used it in a cottage pie i made for dinner tonight (gives a yummy flavour) and in the last hour i have started getting abdominal pains and feeling abit unwell. Not sure if this is just a coincidence?? So for me i might say that its off my list of things i can eat!!!

Yomamabird Rhonda said...

I had to dispose of my beloved Marmite. It was easy when I found out it was the trigger to the horrid migraines I suffer from. It's loaded with MSG. MSG=YeastExtract. They are one and the same. I'll miss it like crazy for awhile until the withdrawal is over. If migraines plague you and you love Marmite? There definitely is a connection. A friend of mine across the country told me the bad news. Bad news and Good news. I haven't had a migraine in 2 weeks now! That is a miracle. Good-bye Marmite. I'll miss you. You were so addicting and now I know why. MSG is addicting like all other MSG laden foods :(

Mike Eberhart said...

Yomamabird,
Well, your statement about MSG=YeastExtract is not 100% true, though I know why you are making this case. I will try to clarify this a bit, but ultimately the choice as to whether to consume a product containing yeast-extract is an individual one, regardless of the chemistry/science behind this stuff.

Sure, yeast-extract is a source of the most active ingredient (free glutamate) in MSG, but it is not technically/chemically the same as MSG. MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid that is produced specifically as a flavor enhancer. And, yes, glutamate occurs naturally and is one of the non-essential amino acids (glutamic acid). This amino occurs naturally in many foods. If you were to avoid all glutamic acid, you would be avoiding a LOT of foods in which it occurs naturally (i.e., EVERY food that contains protein). If you want to avoid free-glutamic-acid, you will have to quit eating cheese too (cheese is high in this amino acid), then comes chicken, eggs, fish (and meat in general). So, this is where there is a problem making the link between MSG and other foods containing glutamate.

With that in mind, sure... yeast extract contains free glutamate, as does MSG, but so does cheese. So, if you wish to eliminate free-glutamate from your diet, you best be ready to give up all sorts of other foods too (as I mentioned earlier). Certainly migraine-triggers are to be avoided, and if MSG and/or yeast and/or cheese and/or any other robust source of glutamates are a trigger, adjust your diet accordingly. But, from a chemical / scientific standpoint, MSG is NOT the same as yeast extract.

Be-bop said...

Marmite (unilever) uk has posted a statement saying Marmite is NOT gluten free, it has very low gluten due to being made from brewers yeast. I love it but do not use it anymore because it does not love me