"Vegemite - Probably THE Australian Icon when it comes to food!"
If I had to name one product that is quintessentially Australian, I'd have to go with this one! The Aussie's just ADORE it and it's fair to say that it is now part of 90% of all kids upbringing.
So what is it? It sounds pretty revolting really - its a yeast extract which is essentially a by product of beer manufacturing. To that they add some spices and that's pretty much it!
You spread the very brown smooth paste onto your buttered toast or bread and thats it! It's full of vitamin B so has a reputation of being pretty good for you but it does have quite a lot of salt in it too!
History of Vegemite
Believe it or not but this product was far from successful in its early days.
A brand called Marmite was already in the market being manufactured in New Zealand by another well known Australian company called Sanitarium.
When after World War 1 Marmite became difficult to import, vegemite was invented in 1922 by a food technologist called Dr Callister for a company called Fred Walker.
The name was dreamed up through a competition asking the Australian public to come up with a name. But sales were pretty poor, despite them focusing on its health benefits for kids. They even tried changing the name to Parwill to compete against Marmite - "Ma might but Pa will"
It wasn't until the Kraft Company became involved in a joint venture did sales start to pick up through an extensive advertising campaign linking it with Kraft cheese products.
In World War 2 it became part of the army rations and by 1940 it was in 90% of all Australian households. From then on, it has been a roaring success!
The Famous Song
There is one classic TV Ad that I think must be engraved on all Aussie's minds - "The Happy Little Vegmites"
Here are the lyrics:
We're happy little Vegemites As bright as birght can be We all enjoy our Vegemite For breakfast lunch and tea Our Mummies say we're growing stronger Every single week Because we love our vegemite We all adore our Vegemite It puts a rose in every cheek
And here is the video
Marmite V's Vegemite
As a Brit, I've been brought up on Marmite. So are they really that different? Which one tastes the best?
Well, I have done a blind taste test and I was surprised at how different the two really do taste side by side. Firstly Marmite is much darker and stickier and I thought the taste was much better because it was stronger - a nice mix between salty and sweet.
I guess it all depends on what you are used to and brought up on!
There's plenty of other things you can do with this spread other than putting it on toast.
Adding it to cheese spread is another classic kids favorite and there are lots of recipes for mixing it with cheese swirls which is a bread like pastry filled with cheese and this iconic spread.
Other recipes include adding it to your mince with onions, mushrooms and a stock cube and a little butter. seriously yummy.
What about in a cheesecake?? Add a couple of teaspoons to your cheese mixture and I swear it works. The salty taste really complements the sweetness of the cake.
Below you will find a recipe for the cheesy vegmite scrolls as these are the most well known of all the recipes.
Ingredients Serves: 6
* 2 ¼ cups (250g) self-raising flour * 30g cold butter, chopped * Salt & pepper to taste * 1 cup (250ml) milk * Vegmite to taste * ½ cup (55g) grated cheese
1.Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Grease a medium sized biscuit tray. Process flour, butter and seasonings in a food processor - or rub the butter into the flour with your fingers - until mixture resembles fresh breadcrumbs. Add milk and mix until just combined. Tip dough out onto a lightly floured bench top and roll into a 30 x 45cm rectangle.
2.Spread generously with Vegmite and top with the grated cheese. Roll in to a log shape and cut into 2cm slices and place side by side onto a greased or lined oven tray.
3.Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.