There was widespread panic in New Zealand this week. Politicians and experts urged people to stay calm but prepared, and gave directions for emergency rationing. Supermarket shelves were stripped bare. It wasn't a blizzard or natural disaster that caused this uproar. It was a Marmite shortage. The island nation is facing shortfalls of the beloved breakfast spread after the factory that produces the salty yeast was forced to shut down after recent earthquakes near Christchurch. Production should be up and running again by July, but that didn't stop the hoarding. On the Kiwi auction site TradeMe, jar of the black gold, as its known, were fetching $50 US. And people were selling — and buying — already opened and partially used jars. That's right, already opened and partially used.
What is it about the spread that causes such devotion? Marmite is made from the yeast that is a byproduct of the brewing industry. It has a hint of meat taste (although completely vegetarian), a little umami, a lot of salt and it's rich in B vitamins.
If you are feeing tremendously curious about the fervor for yeast, why not give homemade Marmite a go. Recipe sourced from marmitelover.blogspot.co.nz
A litre of Brewer's yeast (top fermentation from a brewery)
A little sea salt
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 turnip, diced
1/2 celery stick, diced
1) Put a litre of brewer's yeast with a little salt, in a bain-marie. Simmer at 30 to 40 degrees Celsius for ten hours.
2) Simmer this mixture at 50 to 60 degrees Celsius for two to three hours.
3) Boil at low temperature 90 degrees Celsius for half an hour.
4) Filter though coffee papers or a sieve and cheesecloth.
5) Let it cool for a day or so.
6) Filter again.
7) Put it in a large flat pan and simmer to create a paste.
8) Meanwhile boil up all the vegetables until they are cooked. Strain off the liquid and incorporate into the Marmite paste.
9) Let the mixture reduce into a Marmite like texture.
The entire process takes about ten days.