Meat Extracts

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

meat extracts is a term covering various products which claim to contain all the ‘goodness’ and flavour of meat in concentrated form. They are called extracts, or, more properly, ‘extractives’, because they are soluble substances extracted from meat when it is put into water. Chemically, they include soluble inorganic salts, lactic acid, and various nitrogenous compounds which are not proteins. Manufacturers add flavourings and other ingredients according to their own formulae. Best known in Britain are Bovril (a thick, syrupy dark brown substance), and Oxo (the crumbly ‘stock cube’); both were originally intended for dilution as drinks. Their role as a dietary supplement is less than early advertising implied, but they contain B-group vitamins, and stimulate the secretion of saliva and gastric juices, a property derived from the smell and flavour of compounds produced during cooking meat. They are still used for drinks, as flavouring agents, and are added to meat dishes, soups, and numerous savoury snacks.