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  • Cheese Blog #2: Let them eat Cheese

    My cheesy mission is to de-mystify the alchemy of home-made nut cheese and find a good cheese recipe to make cheaply and easily at home. In short, to perfect the perfect cheese.  There are some magic, cheese-like ingredients that pop up time and time again in cheese-making; cashew nuts, lemon juice, agar agar, nutritional yeast (hereafter referred to as nooch), mustard, sea salt and the baffling, magic ingredient all good cheeses allude to, ‘cultures’.

    Cultures or ‘good’ bacteria

    The stage is set with befuddlement; ‘enzymes’, ‘cultures’, ‘good bacteria’, ‘nut bags’. I’ve had a run-in with good bacteria before when I tried, unsuccessfully, to make my own Kombacha at home. I became obsessed with Kvass (a slightly fermented black tea) when I lived in Samara, Russia but my attempts to re-create it have ended in failure; a mason jar full of scobies; mother scoby tendrils and multiple daughter scobies. I finally had to throw the whole matriarchal bacterial family into the compost.

    You can buy probiotics in capsules from most health food shops, check their vegan credentials first as some of them are grown in milk cultures. You simply prise open the capsule and tip the powder into your blender along with the other ingredients. Some recipes also call for a fruit pectin powder to set the cheese which you can buy easily online. I bought these.

    Cultures

    Inspired by March 2017’s Vegan Food and Living’s guide to vegan cheese, which I urge you to check out for yourself, here are some of the cheeses I have so far created at home, with varying results.

    Cheese sauce – Bestselling ‘Oh She Glows’ author, Angela Liddon, makes a nutritious and brightly-coloured cheese sauce good enough for mac ‘n’ cheese or cauliflower cheese using roasted butternut squash along with the usual cheesy goodies. Well worth adding to your arsenal of veganised and better than the original meals.

    Cheese Sauce

    Cream cheese – The easiest cheese to make at home as it doesn’t need to set. The one I tried from Vegan Food & Living’s article, ‘Cranberry and thyme vegan cheese ball’, asked for coconut oil and I managed to make it taste too coconutty. My advice would be measure properly (note to self) and use a refined coconut oil which doesn’t have an overpowering coconut flavour. This is another, easy and tasty cream cheese recipe by Exceedingly Vegan’s Philipp Ertl: Vegan Herb Cheese.  Both recipes use strong-tasting herbs to bring flavour to the party.

    Herb Cheese

    Melty Mozzarella – Blissful Basil’s, Ashley Melillo whizzes up cashews with arrowroot powder to thicken and apple cider vinegar for the tang to create a convincing mozzarella. You heat it all through on the stove which thickens the sauce and cooks the arrowroot. Tastes fab and is genuinely melty!

    Camembert – Thomas Pagot of Full of Plants fame makes this Ninja-level vegan cheese that has white, waxy, fluffy mould round it. Incredible. It does, however, take five weeks to mature. Pagot is very dedicated and must have the patience of a vegan saint. His website is full of recipes and clear instructions for the devoted or retired. I WILL make this cheese one day.

    Cottage cheeseIt Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken author, Sam Turnball, has a go at recreating cottage cheese. Not 1 but 2 types of tofu are crumbled in the making of this cheese. She’s very clever.

    Cheddar – I tried one (pictured below) made with agar agar from the afore-mentioned article. Ok, so this needs some work. It tasted good but had the texture of rubbery sponge. Or foam. The solidity comes from heating up water with agar agar which doesn’t interfere with the flavour but tends to make it rather spongy. You couldn’t give it to a cheese-eater on a cracker and get away with it. The press worked well to extract the extra water and press it into a neat and very smooth block an it had a cheesy taste from the cashew nuts, nutritional yeast and English mustard but it was missing that distinctive cheese tang.

    Cheddar

    You may notice that some of these cheeses have “Tofuture” imprinted on them. That is because I used our Tofu Press to make them by lining the inner tub with muslin and gently pressing the cheese in the fridge to remove some of the moisture.

    So, the search continues, if anyone has cheese-making advice or would like to share some tried and tested make at home in less than 5 weeks recipes, please comment below or email us. We’ll be delighted to share them, try them and, of course, eat them.

    Another Cheese

     

     

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