Is Vegemite actually good for you?

The vegemite bagel from Shmucks, Melbourne.
The vegemite bagel from Shmucks, Melbourne.  Photo: Supplied

Is Vegemite good for you? K. Dixon

Here's a quick quiz: which American leader referred to Vegemite as "a quasi-vegetable byproduct that you smear on your toast"? No. Not the ginger one; spreads are what his wife appeared in. It was the one before him, Obama, talking to our third last PM, Julia.

A lot of Americans don't like Vegemite. It's so salty. Did you know that the recommended 5g serving of Vegemite contains as much as 173mg of sodium, or almost half a gram of salt?

The same amount of black velvet, as Vegemite is known in our house, contains half the daily intake of vitamin B1 and folate.  Now the Heart Foundation says that "to reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease, (we) recommend adults eat less than 6g of salt (2400 mg of sodium) a day".

Consider this: bread can contain 500mg to 1000mg of salt per slice. So in a cheese and Vegemite sandwich, you might have 2000mg of sodium in the two slices of bread, 100mg in the butter, 350mg in the cheese slice but just 173mg of salt in the Vegemite. That's a massive 2623mg of sodium in one snack. If, however, you had a little Vegemite on some raw vegetables you'd be getting the B vitamins without the massive dose of sodium from the other processed food. Think about it. 

How do I make a sauce for my pan-cooked chicken? P. Russo

Deglaze pan, whisk in butter: result.

How to make the perfect pan sauce? Photo: Jennifer Soo

Pan sauces are easy to make. They are based on the brown glaze on the bottom of the pan that is usually scrubbed off in the sink.

Remove your chook, steak or chop from the pan and set it aside to rest. Pour away the excess fat. Over medium heat, deglaze the pan with wine or stock, add aromatic herbs, reduce and season. Whisk in a knob of cold butter. Remove from heat and serve over the meat. 

You can stir a teaspoon of flour into the pan before you add liquid to help stabilise the sauce. This makes a sauce so good you'll lick it from the spoon. 

Why does the water I pour into a super hot pan take so long to evaporate? L. Frahmer

You are a latter-day Johann Gottlob Leidenfrost. He was an 18th century doctor and theologian who first described this phenomenon. There is so much energy or heat in a very hot pan that when you drop some water into it the steam escapes so forcibly that it actually lifts the water off the surface of the pan.

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While the pan could measure hundreds of degrees Celsius, steam at sea level can never measure more than 100C. The steam is therefore insulating the water from the hot pan. It's also a sign that your pan is hot enough to do some serious searing. 

Send your vexing culinary conundrums to brainfood@richardcornish.com.au or tweet to @Foodcornish