Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

How to Make Healthy, Great-Tasting Vegan Cheese

Cheese: the final frontier. Jennifer England takes us through the strange new world of vegan cheese and boldly goes where very few have gone before.




 

For many of us, “vegan cheese” may as well be an expletive.

Cheese—not meat—is, in fact, the final frontier when individuals transition to a healthier diet or shift to a plant-based diet. Many people are surprised by how much more easily they can reduce or give up meat consumption but they hold their hands up when it comes to cheese.

Why is that? Cheese is one of the most concentrated sources of casein, a protein that turns into casomorphins as it digests in our bodies. Yes, you saw morphine in there. According to a University of Illinois study, “Casomorphins are peptides produced from the breakdown of casein and possess opioid activity. The term opioid refers to morphine-like effects which include signs of sedation, tolerance, sleep induction, and depression.”

I know this is fodder for encouragement for some of you. Partay! SMH, you guys.

For many years, alternative options to dairy cheese were nothing short of…gross. Hard, non-melting, plastic-tasting, artificial ingredient-laden faux cheese occupied grocery store shelves next to the tofu. Good news is, its not that way anymore. There are actually great alternatives out there for those who miss the texture of cheese. And while I do not consume these on a daily basis, I do buy them occasionally.

Nut creams are also great substitutes—and I’ve featured many recipes that include cashew cream, which I love.

But it is still difficult to find a substitute to the other thing we love about cheese: the funk factor. You know what I’m talking about. That elusive umami taste heightened by the culturing process.

Not anymore. Some cheese brands use a fermented grain product called rejuvelac to culture their nut milk cheeses and they are delicious…and very expensive.

My friend, Jennifer England, who started making vegan cheese because her partner is vegan (even though she is not) is one of the best makers I know. Her cheeses are fantastic and we featured it as one of the first courses in my Churchview Farm Dinner last weekend. People raved. Jen is NOT vegan but I have heard her say she prefers vegan cheese at this point!

Can we make it at home? Jen says YES! “It sounds scary and complicated and there aren't a lot of resources out there. But in truth it really isn't as scary and complicated as it first seems.”

The first step is perhaps what is “scary” – making the rejuvelac, But as many sites show, it is actually easy. Here is one resource.

Here are Jen’s Top 5 Tips for making vegan cheese:

  1. There are a number of methods. If you are nervous try one of the easier ones. Not all of them need rejuvelac, you can culture with (almond or soy) yogurt or just not culture. Some of the quick cheeses that are flavored with lemon juice are quite tasty. 
     
  2. Don't be put off by how complicated it seems. It's a finicky process in that there are multiple steps all of which are multiple days and there is no good answer to "how long" because temperature affects the time each process takes and the end result is a product of how long. But at the same time it's insanely forgiving. Leave out your cheese too long? Really you just end up with a super funky cheese, which, for those of who love blue cheeses and the ilk, is delicious!
     
  3. Following on that first point. Experiment. Try different grains for your rejuvelac. Quinoa is quick and easy, and very mild tasting. Millet gives you a funkier flavor. Each grain has it's own character so don't be afraid to experiment and find your own personal sweet spot. (For beginners though I'd avoid non sprouting grains. They can be used but it's much better to try that if you already know what you are going for.) 
     
  4. Similarly, experiment with how long you let it sit out to culture (remembering that air temperature dramatically changes the amount of time the process takes). As I said, cheese that has gone past it's "good" point actually is preferable to many people. I love a good funky, smelly dairy cheese. Same with vegan cheese, let it go and get real funky. Yum!
     
  5. Don't worry about the recipes too much. With one or two exceptions, all the recipes are really "safe"--read bland. Don't be afraid to think "this cheese is bland. And keep adding ingredients until it tastes good. I have several resources I used to get started and now, while I definitely still consider them home base, I mostly am riffing of on my own tangent.

Her favorite resources?

Miyoko Schinner is the best known vegan cheese maker. You can actually order her cheese online or if you live in California, buy it off the shelf. Her book Artisan Vegan Cheese is  a lovely, very accessible introduction to vegan cheese. 

However I absolutely love The Non-Dairy Formulary: Vegan Cuisine for the Ethical Gourmet by Skye Michael Conroy. His vegan butter recipe is amazing and it is palm oil free. His “ buttermilk” isn't just soymilk with vinegar in it. So obviously this book goes way beyond cheese. As far as I'm concerned it's the non-dairy bible. And you will see that the cheese methods are the same as Miyoko and others use. Some day I will get around to trying his vegan croissant recipe. 

Below are two recipes to start your cheese making journey, one that uses rejuvelac and one that does not.

Have fun!
 

Basic Vegan Cheese
Recipe by Cultures for Health

  • 2 cups cashews
  • ½ cup rejuvelac
  • Dash sea salt
  • Dried herbs or pepper to coat

Instructions:

  • Cover cashews with water and soak overnight. Drain off water.
  • Place cashews in a food processor or high-speed blender and process with rejuvelac until a smooth paste forms. You can add a dash of sea salt.
  • Line a strainer with 2 layers of cheesecloth or use a nut bag.
  • Spoon the mixture into the cloth or bag. Set in a warm place and let set for 24 hours.
  • Form the cheese into rounds or logs and coat the outside with herbs or cracked pepper.
  • Put in refrigerator to solidify.

The “cheese” will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. You can also freeze and grate for a garnish.
 

Baked Almond Feta
Recipe by Maple Spice

  • 145g ground almonds (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 60ml lemon juice (1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup water (4 fl oz)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions:

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and blitz until super creamy and smooth.
  • Wrap mixture in cheese cloth and strain in the refrigerator for 12 hours. Photos on the website.
  • Preheat oven to 355 degrees.
  • Unwrap cheese and place in a lined baking sheet, smooth side up.
  • Bake for 40 minutes.

Enjoy!
 

 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Brazen Kitchen:

How to Eat Avocado on Toast Like a Boss

How to Eat Avocado on Toast Like a Boss

Brazen Kitchen: This trio of recipes for avocado on toast is inspired by the profane and profoundly funny Thug Kitchen.
Green Beans Two Ways

Green Beans Two Ways

Amp up the Thanksgiving table staple with recipes from the Middle and Far East.
Get Fresh With a Peak-of-the-Season Salad

Get Fresh With a Peak-of-the-Season Salad

It doesn’t get any better than a salad of peaches, zukes and tomatoes in a basil vinaigrette.
How to Make a Mother’s Day Breakfast Fit for a Queen

How to Make a Mother’s Day Breakfast Fit for a Queen

Start her day right with pink pancakes, crepes, cakes and caramelized corn flakes. In bed.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Restaurant Review: Poulet Bleu

Restaurant Review: Poulet Bleu

Richard DeShantz steps it up with a move from Downtown to Lawrenceville and shows Pittsburgh how to make French dining fun.
Coming Clean: Why We Aren't a Green City ... Yet

Coming Clean: Why We Aren't a Green City ... Yet

Pittsburgh is no longer a smoky city, but that doesn’t mean it has cleaned up its act. Pittsburgh's air quality still ranks among the worst in the nation. What steps are being taken to reduce Pittsburgh's ongoing dependence on fossil fuels?
Ultimate Comfort Food: The Joy of Dumplings

Ultimate Comfort Food: The Joy of Dumplings

Why our dining critic thinks dumplings might be his ultimate comfort food.
Our Seven Favorite Dumplings in Pittsburgh

Our Seven Favorite Dumplings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, of course, is best known for the pierogi. Our love of dumplings extends beyond that, however. These seven dumplings are our favorite restaurant versions of their various styles.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Mobile Service To Connect Hungry Pitt Students to Free Food

Mobile Service To Connect Hungry Pitt Students to Free Food

PittGrub app will send folks in need to events with leftovers.

Comments

You're Going to Be Upside Down a Lot on New Kennywood Coaster

You're Going to Be Upside Down a Lot on New Kennywood Coaster

Kennywood has revealed its replacement ride for “The Log Jammer” which will be located in a new portion of the park entitled “Steelers Country.”

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pittsburgh to Host Nation’s First Black Beer Festival

Pittsburgh to Host Nation’s First Black Beer Festival

Day Bracey and Ed Bailey of Drinking Partners Podcast and Mike Potter of Black Brew Culture online magazine will bring 12 black-owned breweries to Pittsburgh in August for Fresh Fest.

Comments

A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

Empath provides the vibe and social space of a bar, as well as stepped up beverage service ... without the alcohol.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

Our dining critic picks his favorite ice cream, ice pop, frozen custard, vegan delight and more.

Comments

Six Underrated Kennywood Rides You Need to Try Again

Six Underrated Kennywood Rides You Need to Try Again

Leave enough time in your next visit to Kennywood to revisit some old favorites and these underrated gems.

Comments


National Aviary's New Renovations Make it Essential Pittsburgh

National Aviary's New Renovations Make it Essential Pittsburgh

It's time to add the National Aviary to the list of local favorites you visit again and again.

Comments

Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

You'll save money and have an easier time hopping between neighborhoods on a Healthy Ride bicycle.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pirates Are Still a Long Way From a Hollywood Ending

Pirates Are Still a Long Way From a Hollywood Ending

Despite an 8-1 winning streak going into the All-Star break, the Bucs are in desperate need of a sequel, not only to win back some credibility with fans, but also to convince their owner not to sell off more pieces of the team.

Comments

Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

The competition is as fierce as the fans are passionate and both can be appreciated without a firm grasp of the details.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: The Equalizer 2

The 400-Word Review: The Equalizer 2

An unnecessary sequel to the Denzel Washington action flick arrives for a quick beat-em-up fix.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

The 400-Word Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

The sequel to the 2008 ABBA musical is far from perfect, but might have enough charm to keep you on board.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Perfect Proposals that Flashed Back to First Dates

Perfect Proposals that Flashed Back to First Dates

Return to your roots before your relationship blooms into a beautiful marriage.

Comments

I Do, Now Let’s Have Some BBQ

I Do, Now Let’s Have Some BBQ

A five-course meal doesn’t fit with every wedding. These laid-back couples opted for casual — and delicious — cuisine perfect for their outdoor and barn receptions.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Wow Factor: Empty Nest Inspires Timeless Makeover

Wow Factor: Empty Nest Inspires Timeless Makeover

When her last child graduated from college, Ingrid Meenen did something she had been wanting to do for 20 years — renovate the first floor of her Upper St. Clair home.

Comments

Head to the North Hills for Two Blooming Garden Tours

Head to the North Hills for Two Blooming Garden Tours

The Wexford Garden and Pond Tour and the Southern Butler County Garden Club tour both take place this weekend.

Comments

Edit Module