How Do You Make Vegan Cheese: A Guide to Dairy-Free Cheese Making

Vegan cheese is a delicious and nutritious alternative to traditional dairy cheese. Made from plant-based ingredients, it is perfect for those following a vegan diet or for individuals with lactose intolerance. But how do you make vegan cheese? In this article, we will explore the steps and techniques involved in creating your own homemade vegan cheese.

The Basics of Vegan Cheese Making

Before diving into the specific recipes, it’s important to understand the basic process of making vegan cheese. Here are the key steps involved:

  1. Choosing the Base: The first step is to select a plant-based ingredient that will serve as the base of your cheese. Various options include nuts, soybeans, coconut milk, or even vegetables like cauliflower or potatoes.
  2. Soaking or Cooking: Depending on the chosen base, you might need to soak the ingredients overnight or cook them until they are soft and tender.
  3. Blending: Once your base is ready, you need to blend it with other flavor-enhancing ingredients such as nutritional yeast, garlic, herbs, or spices. This step helps achieve the desired taste and texture.
  4. Setting: To give your vegan cheese its characteristic firmness, setting agents such as agar-agar, tapioca starch, or carrageenan are added. These ingredients help solidify the mixture and create a cheese-like consistency.
  5. Aging (Optional): While not always necessary, some vegan cheese varieties benefit from an aging process. This involves refrigerating the cheese for several hours or days, allowing the flavors to develop and deepen.

Now that we have covered the basics, let’s explore five popular subtopics in vegan cheese making:

1. Nut-Based Vegan Cheese

Nut-based vegan cheese is a favorite among cheese enthusiasts due to its rich and creamy texture. Here is a simple recipe to help you get started:

  1. Soak 1 cup of raw cashews in water overnight.
  2. Drain the cashews and blend them with 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 clove of garlic, and a pinch of salt until smooth.
  3. Add your desired herbs or spices, such as dried basil or paprika, and blend again to incorporate the flavors.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of agar-agar and blend briefly.
  5. Pour the mixture into a container and refrigerate for a few hours until set.

2. Soy-Based Vegan Cheese

Soy-based vegan cheese is a versatile option that can be used for various dishes. Here is a straightforward recipe to create your own soy-based cheese:

  1. Cook 1 cup of soybeans until tender and drain.
  2. Blend the cooked soybeans with 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of miso paste, and a pinch of salt until creamy.
  3. In a saucepan, heat the blended mixture and add 1 tablespoon of tapioca starch while stirring constantly until thickened.
  4. Pour the mixture into molds or containers and refrigerate for a few hours until set.

3. Coconut-Based Vegan Cheese

Coconut-based vegan cheese offers a unique tropical flavor and is perfect for adding a creamy touch to your recipes. Give this easy recipe a try:

  1. Blend 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk, 1/4 cup of refined coconut oil, 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt until smooth.
  2. In a saucepan, warm the mixture over low heat, then add 1 tablespoon of agar-agar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Pour the mixture into molds or containers and refrigerate for a few hours until set.

4. Vegetable-Based Vegan Cheese

For those looking for a cheese alternative without nuts or soy, vegetable-based vegan cheese is an excellent choice. Cauliflower, for example, can create a surprisingly cheesy texture. Try out this simple recipe:

  1. Cook 1 small head of cauliflower until tender, then drain well.
  2. Blend the cooked cauliflower with 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, 2 tablespoons of tahini, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt until creamy.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of tapioca starch and blend briefly.
  4. Pour the mixture into molds or containers and refrigerate for a few hours until set.

5. Fermented Vegan Cheese

Fermented vegan cheese offers a more complex flavor profile and a tangy taste reminiscent of traditional dairy cheese. Here is a basic recipe to get you started:

1 cup of raw cashewsSoak the cashews in water for 4-6 hours.
1 probiotic capsuleOpen the probiotic capsule and combine the powder with the soaked cashews.
2 tablespoons of lemon juiceAdd lemon juice to the mixture and blend until smooth.
1 tablespoon of nutritional yeastStir in nutritional yeast for added flavor.
2 teaspoons of miso pasteAdd miso paste to enhance fermentation and taste. Mix well.
Transfer the mixture to a cheesecloth-lined container and let it ferment at room temperature for 24-48 hours or until it reaches the desired tanginess.

Creating your own vegan cheese opens up a world of possibilities for culinary exploration. With a bit of creativity and experimentation, you can craft a variety of delicious and dairy-free cheeses to enjoy in your favorite dishes.

So next time you’re craving cheese, give vegan cheese making a try! It’s a fun and rewarding way to enjoy a cruelty-free and plant-based alternative.