Thursday, 7 April 2011

How to make your own Marmite



 When I started blogging I searched around for an original name. Not an easy task, blogger rejects any blog name that has already been chosen. I reached deep inside myself and thought about who I truly am, my background, my influences, formative experiences and I came up with the moniker MsMarmitelover.
For I am a Marmite baby. I had Marmite on toast for breakfast every morning. On getting home from school, my brother, sister and I devoured an entire white loaf smeared painterly with Marmite: dark brown paste on soft white bread with yellow butter. Once, on being asked what earthly object I'd like to take with me to heaven, pharaoh style, I said, with only the briefest reflection, "a pot of Marmite". 
It never occurred to me that you could make your own until a chap I met on a dating site casually let drop that he was a keen home brewer and that he knew people that made their own Marmite. My ears pricked up, incredulous, you can make your own? I felt like I'd discovered The Great Work, the philosopher's stone. 
Internet research led me to geeky home brewing forums, which didn't reveal much. Delving further, I was led to the Marmite Facebook group where fans were posting tentative recipes. Some of these recipes used alien foreign ingredients such as Braggs: it seemed even Marmite-deprived Americans were getting in on the act. 
My role as MsMarmitelover meant that I was able to go straight to the top: after some negotiation with the Marmite authorities, I was given a telephone date with  St.John O. Skelton, Master Blender of the Marmarati Order or, more prosaically, Quality and Innovation Expert at the Marmite factory in Burton On Trent. He was willing to help me but darkly intimated that making Marmite was "dangerous and hard to control".
The location of the Marmite factory is due to it's proximity to all the breweries. Marmite is seasonal; beer is more watery in summer, and batches are blended together to ensure consistency. There is fluctuation in texture but the hallmark of Marmite lay in it's smoothness as opposed to the more granular Vegemite. 
St.John, yes that is his first name ('don't ever call your kids St.John, computers don't recognise the full stop in email addresses and you get teased at school') could not of course disclose the highly guarded secret recipe to make Marmite but gave me indications, a starting point from which to embark upon home-made Marmite.
St. John suggested using baker’s yeast rather than brewers yeast.. But my experiments revealed that baker's yeast is too cloudy, while brewers yeast will eventually separate, evincing a dark clear solution.
To obtain the brewers yeast, I visited a local London micro-brewery, Redemption Brewery in Tottenham to obtain 'beer scum' or 'top fermentation'. 
I'd always assumed that celery and carrots formed the ‘vegetable extract’ part of the flavouring process, but St. John let slip (was it a mistake or a red herring?) the word 'turnip'. Could turnips be the Marmite secret ingredient?

Here is my recipe for Marmite:
A litre of Brewer's yeast (top fermentation from a brewery)
A little sea salt
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 turnip, diced
1/2 celery stick, diced


1) Put a litre of brewer's yeast with a little salt, in a bain-marie. Simmer at blood heat, 30 to 40 ºc for ten hours or overnight.
2) Then simmer this mixture at 50 to 60 º c for 2 to 3 hours.
3) Boil at low temperature 90ºc  for half an hour. (In the factory they have a special machine for this, or you could ascend a mountain of 10,000ft, to achieve low altitude boiling)
4)Filter though coffee papers or a sieve and cheesecloth
5) Let it cool for a day or so. It separates further.
6) Filter again.
7) You then want to convert it to a paste. This is best achieved by putting it in a large flat pan and simmering. On an Aga, you can simply leave the pan on the lid for a few hours. Keep an eye on the mixture. "We have a man in the Marmite factory whose job it is to watch Marmite evaporate. Literally like watching paint dry" explained St.John cheerfully.
8) Meanwhile boil up all the vegetables until they are cooked. Strain off the liquid and incorporate into the Marmite paste. 
9) Let the mixture reduce into a Marmite like texture. Do not allow it to burn: "We do not want to develop caramel notes" warned St.John. 
The entire process takes about ten days.

This home-made Marmite admittedly tastes different, like something German and healthy in a tube. Lacking the specialist equipment to 'debitter' the yeast, it will have beerier flavours, rather like the Guinness or XO Marmite. 
It was a comfort to know that I could, in a pinch or say, a calamitous event such a terrorist attack on the Marmite factory, DIY my own Marmite. But realistically, I'll probably stick to shop-bought.
Have you experimented with making your own Marmite? Or any other easily bought condiment such as mustard or ketchup? Do they compare with the famous brands such as Colman’s, Maille mustard or Heinz?
Update: the main problem was the bitterness of the brewing yeast. The solution is to wash the yeast. You achieve this by putting the top fermentation in a jar full of water. Eventually the yeast will settle on the bottom of the jar. Pour off the water and fill the jar again with fresh water. Do this several times to wash the yeast. Then follow the recipe above.

Portrait of myself (by Audrey Gillan after 7 bottles of wine.)
Vintage pot of Marmite with metal lid.

62 comments:

  1. love this love you! going to pass this post on to my favorite couple. a brit married to a kiwi. they get along great, except when it comes to who's marmite is better!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Haven't made marmite but have made worcestershire sauce . . . a lot of effort but worth it for the sense of adventure! Am going to make some Harveys sauce next, culled from Good Things in England (Florence White) a book I have wanted to get my hands on for literally years. BTW . . . while buying GTIE at Waterstones in Charing X, your beautiful book was displayed very prominantly. It is next on my list, I promise!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love this story!... my aunt made a documentary about the Marmite factory years ago... I'll see if I can hunt it down for you x

    ReplyDelete
  4. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! I sooo love the portrait - after 7 bottles of wine. I don't know who had what on which side of the camera, but I can't walk pr talk after 3.5 bottles of wine. Although at the time I always think I can...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi,
    This is such a lovely post. I just love the Marmite. I really liked the pictures as well. Well done. It is quite a well compiled post.
    :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm afraid Mr chumbles, it was Audrey that had all the wine. Still it made for a nicely blurry photo of me!

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a brilliant idea, making your very own marmite. Interesting to note the differences between bakers and brewers' yeast, great post.

    ReplyDelete
  8. amazing that you made it! That is dedication! xxx

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is brilliant! I love the warning that Marmite is "dangerous and hard to control" and have a new found respect for Marmite. Imagine being the man watching Marmite evaporate all day.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Have you ever tried the Australian alternative, Vegemite? Have to admit to liking it. Slighty lighter in taste than Marmite, perhaps? Nice, old-fashioned packaging, too.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Greasy spoon: yes I have. Gotta say I prefer Marmite. I think it depends what you are brought up with...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Fantastic! I particularly love the picture of you with the Marmite jar on your head! I jest. More seriously, I wish I could try your recipe. Unfortunately, as an ex-pat, it is all I can do to hunt down a few precious jars of ready made Marmite - I wouldn't stand a chance of finding brewer yeast nor, would you believe it, parsnips!
    Shame, because my husband would happily live of the sticky stuff. He gets it sent over from UK for his b/day!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for this fascinating post. My new love is marmite pasta. Nigella makes a spaghetti version and I have tried it with many different types of pasta - favourite so far is spelt ridged tubes. I also like it on buttered toast topped with tomatoes cooked in olive oil.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Lot of hits from desperate Brits in Denmark I imagine. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Years ago when I was little someone I remember being called Basil Bell (maybe I dreamed that bit) came to our house in East Africa and made marmite. I only remember it involving boiling a lot of carrots. i don't think we had access to brewers yeast at the time but we probably used lots of bakers yeast. Anyway, I dropped the jar before we had a chance to taste it and it smashed. But we were so desperate for marmite we sieved it through a fine sieve and used it anyway.... your post has reminded me to go through all my mum's old recipe notes and see if she wrote down Basil's recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi, I'm a brazilian home brewer and I'm interested in doing my own Marmite. Thank you for posting this recipe. I'll try do do this after my beer batch. As soon as I taste this I'll return with my experience. In about 10 days I'll be back!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi, I'm a brazilian home brewer and I'm interested in doing my own Marmite. Thank you for posting this recipe. I'll try do do this after my beer batch. As soon as I taste this I'll return with my experience. In about 10 days I'll be back!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I just finished making this and I've gotta say I'm pretty pleased at how it turned out!

    I'd had one previous attempt which I tried without following a recipe, I just poured some salt onto some yeast and started boiling it, DO NOT DO THIS! It made something which didn't smell or taste like Marmite but rather exactly like vomit! So thanks for the recipe,it worked much better that trying to make it up on fly. The only point I departed from your recipe was using vegetable bouillon powder rather than making my own stock.

    I'm a homebrewer so I used my own home grown yeast. I live in South Korea where we can get neither English beer nor Marmite so I'm very happy to have killed two birds with one stone!

    ReplyDelete
  19. When you filter it, do you take the stuff left in the filter paper or the stuff filtered out?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Also, when you boil the vegetables, do you mash up the vegetables or take the water and put it in the yeast sludge?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Stuff filtered out.
    Take the water and add it, reducing it.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hey, a few questions about this.

    Could you be a little more specific about the amount of salt you used? Mine came out a little too salty, I'm not sure exactly how much I used, I went with "a bit" but considering I ended up with about 50mls from about a liter of yeast, small differences at the start could give pretty big differences in the end.

    Also mine came out paler than real marmite, Yours looks dark in the photo but mine looks dark in photos too, did you get the proper marmite colour? If you did do you have any tips?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Rowan: I added salt to taste...until it tasted equally salty to Marmite.
    Re the colour, I have the advantage of cooking on an Aga, which means I can slow cook things for days, even months in different bits of the cooker. It took a couple of days to reduce my marmite to that colour.
    In fact one of the first things you notice about an aga is that you can't leave a dish on the lids...they carry on cooking, reducing.
    Do you have a hot radiator you can leave it on?

    ReplyDelete
  24. If anyone can work out a way of making it less bitter...let me know.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Mark de San Marcos27 October 2011 21:46

    Hi, I'm a Brit living in Guatemala and my Marmite supply ran out 2 months ago. I thought i would give Clifford's recipe a go, but had to make some alterations due to what's available here. So I used:

    1.5 teaspoons Panela (dried cane juice)
    1 (heaped) teaspoon dark miso
    4 tablespoons Nutritional yeast flakes
    1 tablespoon brewers yeast
    1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
    2 tablespoons Braggs
    0.5 teaspoons salt

    I added about 200ml of water and stirred it well. I made the mixture in the pot of my 2 qt slow cooker and set it to low. I left it to do it's thing for about 24 hours, then for about 3 hours every 20 minutes lifted the lid off carefully and disposed of the condensed water on the lid to get the consistency. each time i disposed of the water I scraped the goo off the sides of the pot and stirred it back into the bulk of the mixture. I then let it cool a little and spooned it into an old marmite jar i had kept. the result was pretty good, consistancy was very marmitey, colour was dark and good, maybe a little lighter than it should be....and the taste.....well, it's close but lacks the necessary bite, it's closer to vegemite (if you'll excuse my use of the word). I've now got the second batch going. I have changed the recipe a little:

    1 tablespoon Panela (dried cane juice)
    1 tablespoon dark miso
    2 tablespoons Nutritional yeast flakes
    3 tablespoon brewers yeast
    1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder
    2 tablespoons Braggs
    1 teaspoon salt

    Maybe i should change one ingredient at a time, but i think this may give it sufficient bite. I'll find out tomorrow!

    ReplyDelete
  26. What exactly is Braggs? My husband is a Britt but we live in the states. Impossible to get Marmite in the shops. Would love to try your recipe. I have different things from Braggs, but are unsure what you mean.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Braggs is an American thing: follow the link...it's a kind of condiment a bit like soy sauce but has amino acids that are good for digestion....worth trying!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thank you so much! I already have Braggs then. Can't wait to try this out. Just finished pickling some onions too. Many thanks and Merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  29. This is so cool! I would love to try this. My extract of choice, though, is Promite, Aussie cousin to both Marmite and Vegemite, but "sweeter" and more savory. I love it. I'd like to try to find out how to make that. At any rate, this Yank thanks you for this post!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I'm afraid Andyman that I have tried Promite and it's totally bloody disgusting. I guess it depends what you grew up with....

    ReplyDelete
  31. Oh thank you, I am a South African who just recently moved back to Europe without a huge supply of our staple diet - Marmite, will definitely be giving this recipe a bash!!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Nice read. I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. He actually bought me lunch as I found it for him! Therefore let me rephrase: Thank you for lunch!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I searched all over the place (even the internet) about three years ago for a marmite recipe and found nothing, I even emailed marmite (without result). so we tried making a recipe up (as we make our own beer). we tried two or three variations, but they were all as horrible as each other!
    We'll certainly give this a go, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Natalie and the anonymice: Glad you got lunch and hope this recipe works for you. My main problem with it is to reduce the bitterness.
    I need to work on that but if anyone comes up with anything...

    ReplyDelete
  35. Well lots of people will be looking at your website now that the only New Zealand producer of Marmite cannot make any for some time as the factory has had to close down after the Christchurch earthquake. Have a look at the New Zealand news website about it. People here have begun to panic and shops are being emptied of the last stocks.!!!

    ReplyDelete
  36. New Zealander19 March 2012 22:05

    Thanks for this - just as I run out of Marmite, the entire country does too :(. Hopefully your recipe is close enough to NZ Marmite to keep the withdrawl symptoms away!

    ReplyDelete
  37. The jar is empty and stocks (entire country) are running low. This may just get us through! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  38. A very interesting post.
    I live in Turkey and bring back a jar whenever I visit England.
    I also brew my own beer so may have a go at making my own Marmite.

    My father who died 12 years ago made his own Worcestershire sauce, I only finished his last two gallon batch last year.

    ReplyDelete
  39. What a lovely memory of your father...

    ReplyDelete
  40. I live on a small island in Greece and so far have depended on friends to bring me Marmite. I make my own pickled onions but Marmite - ooh, that would be great although brewers yeast... no. For the desperate ones I have used http://www.britstore.co.uk and they're excellent. I will try your recipe with bakers yeast in the meantime! Sounds great and many thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Love this post. Might give it a go as I am an addict and its not so easy to get hold of where I live. I rely on visitors to be my Marmite mules. I have made hoisin sauce, sweet chili sauce, mustard with honey, beetroot pickle, mint sauce and a few more. They mostly work well and are a fraction of the cost to buy. Does anyone know how to make Worcestershire sauce? Bloody Marys are just not the same without it.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I think I'm going to have another go. But this time I will rinse the yeast.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I'm so excited and can't believe my luck. Living in a small town in Ecuador at about 2,500m and quite literally living above a brewery. Missing marmite like you wouldn't believe, I feel like this is some kind of divine intervention!!!

    ReplyDelete
  44. It may be divine intervention! i have just got a load of yeast slurry from a local microbrewery. And now i am in the dark. I think i want to rinse the yeast? But the stuff is still fermenting! I am waiting till tomorrow and then i am going to see if i can siphon off the liquor and replace with water. Any advice not on this page much appreciated....mark

    ReplyDelete
  45. Mark: yes rinse the yeast to lessen the bitterness. Let me know how you get on.
    Karen: which town in Ecuador? I spent some time there a while ago. I remember a British tourist giving me a pot of Marmite in Quito, I was so thrilled. I know well that desperation!
    Let me know how you get on too...

    ReplyDelete
  46. Love this post! I am a home brewer and have been experimenting with this for the past week. I am having trouble filtering the yeast. It just gums up the works and nothing strains out. Any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
  47. Amelia: hmm not sure. I need to have another go myself.
    At the moment however I'm buying trying to recreate hobbit food such as elven bread.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I must give thanks to theundergroundrestaurant for sharing this. I am brewing my first batch of "somethingmite" right now. Maybe I'll call it "davemight." I am new at this but not at brewing!
    My only gift to you is this, get a brewers yeast that is either hopless (without hops) or made with light floral hops only and no bittering hops. So a brew made particularly for this recipe will serve you well as far as lowering the bitterness, some of which is needed because it is essential vitamins that make the mite mighty, cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  49. Love this post! Stumbled across it randomly all the way from New Zealand where we have just had a year of no Marmite thanks to our Marmite factory being earthquake damaged - Marmageddon its been called. The whole country is counting down till it goes back on sale in a week or so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel for you guys... I hope you are all back up and running again, on the breakfast front at least...

      Delete
  50. Amazing! My 9-year-old daughter has been an avid Marmite junkie since she started eating solid foods. She asked me this morning at breakfast (while having her Marmite-toast) if we couldn't make Marmite at home. Hence the google-search. Before reading your piece, I was sure it was a highly processed food (pretending to be traditionally derived), and am really delighted to learn that it is related to "real" foods.
    I am a farmer and grow my own mustard. We regularly make our own mustard paste with honey, salt and pepper. It is really sharp and great for cooking.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Oh, and perhaps I should've mentioned that I am a Pakistani woman (mother of the 9-year-old Marmite lover).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lovely to hear from you...are you a farmer in Pakistan? Have you made your own mustard?

      Delete
  52. I work in a microbiology lab in Canada and know a number of brewers who can give me yeast (or I can grow my own!). My first step was to spin it down in a centrifuge, decant the beer and re-suspend in water. The hops pelleted with the yeast, I did my best to remove it but there was still some hoppy scent to it.

    I'm in the reducing step right now (laboratory vacuum over for reducing, yay!) but when I first read it, I was under the impression I would mash in the cooked vegetables. I might go with some vegetable stock instead of making my own and see how it turns out. Being in a lab also means I can add my own B-vitamins after the fact to make it super healthy :)

    This post was definitely very helpful, thank you! I will be back to let you know how it turns out in a week or so. I'm hoping for it to be more like Vegemite personally, but Marmite is good too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cool! Yes you can do it with vegetable stock too. Yes they use a centrifuge at the marmite factory. What do you mean by 'pelleted'? the hops became pellets with the yeast?
      Please let me know how you get on and thanks so much for the comment.

      Delete
  53. I'm a new convert to Marmite. I was born in Romania and live in the USA, so I had no exposure to it until well into my adult age. But I am a food lover and I will try anything... so I did, and loved it. I am also a biochemist by profession, a cook and a homebrewer by passion. Marmite is available here, but not easily, and when you find some it can be expensive ($8 for a 4oz jar).

    So I set to make my own, from curiosity. I always like to experiment.

    I started with Mark de San Marcos' recipe above and changed it as follows:
    1 tbsp turbinado sugar instead of Panela
    1 tbsp red miso (I make my own; alternately you can use aged red miso that you find at stores like Whole Foods)
    2 tbsp yeast flakes (also from Whole foods)
    3 tbsp dry baking yeast (the kind you can get at Costco in 1-lb packets)
    1 tbsp Vegeta instead of vegetable stock powder (Vegeta is a Polish-made seasoning mix made mostly of dried vegetables; you can find it at ethnic markets)
    2 tbsp soy sauce (the real, brewed kind - not the ones made from hydrolyzed protein - Kikkomans is a good one)
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 cup (240ml) water

    A comment on the soy sauce vs Braggs: Braggs is akin to soy sauce with reduced salt... so why add Braggs and then salt, if you can use straight soy sauce instead? Plus by doing so you can choose a good, traditionally-brewed brand (Braggs is made from hydrolyzed soy)

    I put all of this in a 1-pint jar, mix together and put the jar in a slow cooker set to low. Now, the low on my slow cooker must be different from Mark's, because it was all done in 10 hours or so (if I had left it for 24h I would have ended up with the dried remains of what could have been a Marmite substitute). At the end I mixed it all well together, and simply put a lid on the jar I cooked it in - didn't transfer it to anything else. I turned out very smooth and creamy.

    I'm very happy with the taste I obtained, and will surely make more soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow that's cool Silvu, thanks so much for sharing that!

      Delete
  54. This is the BEST thread ever! I make several condiments now (ketchup, mustard, chili sauce, etc) using maple syrup and Pple cider. I'm attempting to make my own version of marmite. If it works, I'm cling it VERMONMITE!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Fantastic blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers?

    I'm hoping to start my own site soon but I'm a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like Wordpress or go for
    a paid option? There are so many choices out there that
    I'm completely confused .. Any ideas? Thanks a lot!



    Check out my website ... webpage ()

    ReplyDelete
  56. I work in the quality lab of a microbrewery. The substances that makes beer bitter are called alpha-acids. They are derived form hops, and as the name implies, they are acidic. The membranes of yeast cells tend to be negatively, charged, and attract acidic substances. In fact, anywhere from 10% to 40% of the alpha acids in beer before fermentation end up sticking to the yeast cells, and get pulled out of the beer at the end of fermentation when the yeast settles out. Washing the yeast several times with water should remove most of the bitterness, but it sounds like you have tried this and want a better solution. I wonder if washing the yeast with vinegar wouldn't work better. The acetic acid might have a stronger affinity to the negatively-charged yeast cells than the alpha-acids. The alpha acids would therefore be displaced into solution: let it all settle, pour off the standing liquid and the bitter substance with it. Follow with a water wash. Any residual vinegar will get boiled off in the lengthy cooking process. Maybe its a nutty idea, but I'm curious to try it.

    ReplyDelete

I would love to hear what you think of this post! I try to reply to every comment (if there is a delay, I am probably away from an internet connection or abroad)