Being vegan, or simply reducing meat and dairy consumption, comes with many benefits for the planet and your health. Now, you can make delicious dairy-free vegan cheese without additives. According to www.chooseveg.com/environment, switching to a vegan diet saves 50% more carbon emissions than driving a Prius! Animal farming and protein production is huge contributor to land deforestation. It also uses a massive amount of fossil fuels, not to mention the methane gas coming directly from cattle that plays havoc with our atmosphere. Sourcing vegan products free of preservatives, colours and gluten can sometimes be tricky. Staples such as vegan cheese are easy to make in your own kitchen so you don't miss out on the delicious flavours and textures that cheese provides. Unfortunately many cheeses also contain animal derived rennet, an enzyme that helps coagulation and separates the whey and curds. To be a completely vegan cheese it needs to be free of rennet and dairy too.
Just Go Nuts!
So how do you make delicious vegan cheese that is more pure and natural than the supermarket variety? All you have to do is go nuts! Nuts are a really good base for these cheeses as they are high in protein and taste great. Throw in some herbs, lemon juice or water and you have a perfect flavour and texture combination. You can mix up the types of herb and nut combinations and have a play. Cashews, almonds, macadamias and pine nuts mix into a nice paste for a base. You can have fun by adding other condiments such as chilli sauce, truffle oil or dried tomatoes. For the sweet tooth you can make a sweeter spread by adding agave syrup or vanilla essence. Nutritional yeast amps up the cheesy flavour and health factor.
How to Make Vegan Cheese at Home
Biome sells these excellent Mad Millie Vegan Cheese Kits that simplify making vegan cheese. These kits come from the home of good cheese (vegan or otherwise), New Zealand. They contain:
Instructions and recipe booklet.
Mad Millie provides a number of awesome vegan cheese recipes in their cheese kit. A popular one is their vegan haloumi using delicious cashews and the ingredients from their vegan cheese kit. Find the recipe below.
Vegan Haloumi Cheese
Makes: approx. 200g Difficulty: easy Ingredients:
½ cup of raw cashews
½ cup of water
5 Tbsp. of tapioca flour
5 Tbsp. of olive oil
½ tsp of cheese salt
½ Tbsp. of agar
Blender or food processor
Cooking pot (non-stick if available)
Cooking fry pan (non-stick if available)
Small flat tray
Place raw cashews in a bowl and fill with water until they are covered completely. Soak overnight (approximately 8 hours).
Drain the cashews and rinse with water.
Place nuts in a blender or food processor and add remaining ingredients.
Blend until a thick paste is formed. NOTE – you may need to stop and scrape the sides every now and again to ensure it is all mixed together.
Pour mix into a non-stick cooking pot and slowly heat to 60 degrees Celsius on a low heat. It is important that you continuously stir this to ensure that the milk doesn't stick/burn and that the milk doesn't separate.
When the temperature reaches 60 degrees you will feel the mixture thicken. Keep stirring on the heat for a further 1-2 minutes to ensure the agar is activated and the mixture becomes compact.
Pour the contents of the pot into a flat tray, cover and leave in the fridge for 8 hours or until set.
Remove from the tray, cut into rectangular slices and pan fry until golden brown. Haloumi will keep for two days prior to cooking and another day after cooking.
Making your own dairy free cheese is a rewarding as you know exactly what is going in it. We would love to know if you have tried this. What ingredients have you used? Share the love in the comments. Image source: Mad Millie
Biome acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation (Burwood), Bundjalung, Yugambeh and Koombumerrii people (Southport), and Yuggera and Turrbul people (Meanjin / Brisbane) as the traditional owners and custodians of the land that we work on. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
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