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Must You Go to the Ends of the Earth to Find Vegemite?

What on earth is Vegemite?

Dare we say that Vegemite is the Down-Under version of Marmite? Quite possibly you are not satisfied with that answer (and the Australians and New Zealanders may be hopping mad, though for different reasons).

Vegemite is the Australian invention of Cyril Callister in 1922. It is a byproduct of yeast not technically an extract, although it is universally known as a yeast extract. It is now produced by Kraft Foods Australia. It is related to the British Marmite, for which the Australian's have limited use, and for which our first statement might make them hopping mad.

Vegemite is made from brewer's yeast, so is treated in the manufacturing process to remove some of its natural bitterness. Flavorings, including celery and onions are added. As with Marmite, the flavor is described as having a salty tang with a sweet undertaste. Both are also referred to as "acquired tastes." Vegemite is the saltier of the two. Americans, in general, have not acquired this taste. Most have never tried.

All yeast extracts contain glutamic acid, which is a source of the umami flavor that we are being taught is the fifth flavor we can perceive (in addition to salt, sweet, sour, and bitter). For this reason, some people liken yeast extracts to soy sauce or at least put them in a similar category.

There is a slightly modified version of Marmite produced in New Zealand, which is more popular than Vegemite, and which is why New Zealanders might not appreciate our Down-Under Marmite comment. They have their own yeast extract, darn it, they surely don't need Australia's (although Vegemite does sell well in New Zealand).

Vegemite is much harder to find in this country than Marmite, even online

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