Product review: Gluten-free Vegemite

Vegemite is one of the most iconic Australian foods. The spread, made from brewer’s yeast extract, is finally available in a gluten-free version.

‘Pure Vegetable Extract’ was developed in the early 1920s. The product went through a few name changes and a rough start due to the already established popularity of Marmite, the British version. Eventually marketing succeeded and Vegemite is now the spread of choice of many Australians.

Gluten in Vegemite

Original Vegemite is not gluten-free because the malt extract is derived from barley and the yeast extract is made from yeast grown on barley and wheat.

My Vegemite story

The first time my husband and I came to Australia was in 2008. We bought a small jar of Vegemite, among other Australian foods, but did not like it at all.

Years later I wanted to find a low-fat savoury spread that I could eat on low-calorie days. At this stage I had already discovered my gluten intolerance, so I tried Vege spread and didn’t mind the taste.

As soon as I found out Vegemite had launched a gluten-free version I knew I had to try it.

Ingredients

The ingredients in both original and gluten-free Vegemite are similar:

  • Original: Yeast extract (from yeast grown on barley and wheat), salt, mineral salt (508), malt extract (from barley), colour (150c), flavours, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, folate.
  • Gluten-free: Yeast extract, salt, mineral salt (508), colour (150c), flavours, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, folate.

Nutrition information

Because the ingredients are so similar, the differences in nutrients are minimal. This is especially true when you consider a serve is 5g. For comparison purposes, I’ve included the nutrient values per 100g of each product.

Nutrient Original, per 100g Gluten-free, per 100g
Energy (kJ) 729 734
Protein (g) 25.9 26.5
Fat, total (g) <1.0 1.2
– Saturated (g) <1.0 0.5
Carbohydrate (g) 11.1 9.8
– Sugars (g) 2.4 4.7
Dietary Fibre (g) 8.4 8.9
Sodium (g) 3300 3300
Thiamin(B1) (mg) 11 11
Riboflavin(B2) (mg) 8.6 8.6
Niacin(B3) (mg) 50 50
Folate(B9) (µg) 2000 2000

Taste test

It’s been too long since I had regular Vegemite for me to compare but from my recollection it tastes pretty much the same. My palate has changed and now I enjoy a thin spread of Vegemite as a base for various toppings (more on this later).

Pros

  • Endorsed by Coeliac Australia & NZ.
  • Certified by Monash University as low FODMAP. Having said that, regular Vegemite is also low FODMAP!
  • Very low fat (same as the regular version).
  • Contains a decent percentage of the recommended daily intake for the B vitamins (same as the regular version). The reference values depend on gender and age and also increase when pregnant or lactating. B vitamins are important in energy metabolism and folate is essential for foetal development.

Cons

  • It contains colour and flavours, which could affect people who are highly sensitive.
  • Potentially more expensive and not as widely available as regular Vegemite.

How to enjoy

The classic way of consuming Vegemite is on toast with butter but there’s no reason why you can’t get creative. Here are some ideas for you:

Vehicle

  • Gluten-free bread or toast
  • Rice cakes
  • Corn thins
  • Gluten-free crispbread

Toppings

  • Sliced tomato
  • Cottage or ricotta cheese
  • Avocado (mashed or sliced)
  • Sliced boiled egg

More information

For more information and for recipes using Vegemite, head to Vegemite’s website.

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