Customers have asked us over and over for this old favourite, so we’re delighted to say that we have it at long last. For those who know it, Bovril needs no introduction – the name alone is enough to get you adding it to your shopping basket. But we know that for many of our customers, the name won’t mean much. So we thought we would write a few paragraphs to give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here.
What is Bovril?
Would you believe that Bovril was created to help feed Napoleon III’s army? Getting hold of, and transporting, enough beef to supply such a massive force was a major logistical challenge in the 1870s. John Lawson Johnson, a Scotsman and a butcher who was at the time living in Canada, came up with “Fluid Beef” as a way to meet their needs, and not long after, gave it the name “Bovril”.
Since then, Bovril has become beloved not only in the UK, but also as far away as Malaysia and China. Many British people associate it with watching football – there’s nothing quite like a pie and a cup of Bovril to warm you up on a winter’s day. For others it’s a restorative tonic when you’re feeling under the weather, or just a comforting savoury treat any time you feel the need.
What is Bovril made from?
One look at the jar and you might think it must be similar to Marmite, and indeed, both are products of Unilever. But there’s one very important difference – while Marmite is strictly vegan, this is a meat-based product.
The name is derived from the Latin Bos, meaning ox, and this is a big clue as to what’s in there. The main ingredient is, you guessed it, beef. It also contains a fair amount of yeast extract, like its cousin Marmite, but the high proportion of beef is definitely what makes Bovril unique.
What can I do with Bovril?
By far the most common, and best-known, use of Bovril is as a hot drink. Known by some as “beef tea”, a spoonful diluted in boiling water really hits the spot. In recent times beef broth has come into fashion as a source of various proteins and minerals, but Bovril has been doing its thing for 150 years!
But there’s much more to Bovril than just a beefy, salty, savoury drink. It’s also a great “secret ingredient” in stews, soups and gravies and sauces, adding delicious depth of flavour. Try it in shepherd’s pie, for instance. Or you can simply spread it on toast, like Marmite, and enjoy that robust, beefy flavour at full intensity.