#DiscoverTheDetails: Our Beef Extract

Salty, Homely, Comforting and Delicious: find out more about this historic spread

It's possible to find just about everything your taste buds might desire at Fortnum's, but among the most-requested and best-loved among our customers is our signature beef extract.

The stories about this famous and famously warming product are near-endless. Best-known perhaps is the true tale of Queen Victoria ordering – in both senses of the word – the dispatch ‘without delay’ of 250lbs of Fortnum’s beef extract to Florence Nightingale in Turkey.

Scandal had erupted when newspaper reporters, covering skirmishes from the front line for the very first time, revealed the horrendous conditions endured by injured British soldiers in the Crimean War.

And while not strictly speaking medicinal, the Queen nonetheless believed – as many people continue to believe to this day – that a little Fortnum’s ‘beef tea’ would provide nourishment to the ailing troops, and a psychological boost too: as a warming, soothing reminder of home.

Even back then, there were alsmost certainly better methods for treating battlefields injuries. But we doubt any of them tasted as nice.


Other Brits on foreign soil have had similar ideas over the years: attracted to the ideal of our beef extract as a uniquely British aid in times of great exertion.

Sir Henry Morton Stanley – the explorer famous for his adventures throughout central Africa – carried Fortnum’s beef extract on his journeys into the southern hemisphere. Captain Scott took a little on his trip to the Antarctic.

But that was then.

Today, Fortnum’s beef extract continues to be hugely popular as a hearty addition to stews and sauces and on its own, spread direct from the jar onto fresh, still-warm toast.

And in the year when bone broth is being hailed as a must-eat superfood, we are delighted to have been so ahead of the curve.


‘Our beef extract is made by boiling down the bones of the animal, but don’t let that put you off. The result is a thick, dark substance that is very tasty, very rich in nutrients, and good for your digestion’ says Sydney, our Executive Chef.

As for the best way to eat this delicious stuff? As simply as possible, according to Sydney: spread on lightly-toasted, fresh-baked, just-buttered bread.

Try it, and you'll discover the taste is salty, homely, and deliciously comforting. If you haven’t already, seek out a jar from lower ground, or order online. A simpler, tastier snack you will struggle to find.