More Cheesy Tips

I thought I’d revisit in a blog post about some of the most common questions I keep getting from vegan cheesemakers all over the world. I keep experimenting and developing newer methods, techniques, and flavors, and while it’s not possible for me to send out an addendum answering the most frequently asked questions, I can address them here. So I’ll just jump right in…

1. Rejuvelac. I know, I know. Everyone seems to struggle with this (well, not everyone). But here’s the first thing to remember: it takes anywhere from 4 to 7 days, depending on the grain you use. I’ve found quinoa, rye, and wheat berries to be the easiest to sprout. Don’t mix your grains, and make sure that the package doesn’t say “pre-sprouted.” It’ll take 12 – 36 hours for your grains to sprout, depending on how warm it is. 70 – 80 degrees is ideal (Farenheit). In the winter, try to find a warm spot in your house out of direct sunlight. White foam can collect at the top, but don’t worry. If you’ve sprouted your grains, it will smell fermented, like beer, perhaps, but not smelly feet. You can drink this stuff – after all, that’s what Ann Wigmore invented it for. It’s a great probiotic drink, and you can add a little ginger and sweetener (agave, perhaps) to make gingerale, a suggestion a student of mine made.

2. Substitutes for Rejuvelac – okay, so you don’t want to bother. If not, get some saurkraut at the store and use the liquid. Basically, most fermented liquids will work, although I have experiemented side by side with various starters, and have found rejuvelac cultures faster than saurkraut (or other fermented vegetable) juice. You can also use a plain kombucha, although this takes the longest to culture. Kombucha has sugar in it, so it adds a bit of sweetnenss to the cheese. Some people ask about using powdered probiotics – that’s your choice. I don’t recommend it. Many of them aren’t vegan, they’re expensive, and sometimes, they don’t work. Also, they are usually a mono-culture, so they don’t capture the wild lactic acid bacteria that are in grains and the environment, which contribute so much to flavor.

3. Carrageenan vs. Agar. What’s the difference? Carrageenan melts, agar does not. That’s why it’s used for the meltable cheeses. What if you can’t get carrageenan or don’t want to use it? What to do? Well, if you’re making the meltable cheeses and only care whether or not they actually melt (and not whether they are sliceable), just omit it. You’ll end up with a glob or a thick sauce, not a sliceable cheese, but it will ooze, brown, get stretchy, and melt in your sandwich, on a casserole, or a pizza, just the same.  So, for the meltable cheeses, as Buddy says, “just forget about it!” It’ll all be fine in the final product.

4. Still on the topic of carrageenan vs. agar, but for the aged cheeses. The reason I use carrageenan instead of agar in the “hard” cheeses is because agar requires dissolving in water or some other liquid first. This introduces liquid into the cheeses, which not only dilutes the flavor, but leads to a higher water content, making the cheeses more vulnerable to mold. The idea is to minimize the liquid content while air-drying. Carrageenan can be added directly to the cheese and heated, at which point it will bind. If you can’t get it or don’t want to use it, you can still use agar. Here’s what you have to do: put 2/3 cup water into a narrow saucepan, and add two tablespoons of agar POWDER (don’t use flakes!!!).  This is a very small amount of liquid for this amount of agar, so you’ll have to put a lid on the pot. Over medium heat, bring it to a boil. If you lift the lid, you’ll first see the agar turn solid, but after several minutes, it will eventually liquify, although it will be like a thick gel. Now very quickly whisk your cheese into the agar, making sure that it is incorporated quickly and thoroughly. Make sure that the cheese is at room temperature (and not cold) so that the agar doesn’t set into little threads the moment the cheese hits it. You’ll have to keep heating the cheese for a few more minutes – the idea behind heating the cheese is to stop the culturing process so that it doesn’t continue to get tangy over time.  Pour the cheese into a lined mold (line with cheesecloth), then let cool completely in the fridge overnight. After you unmold it, don’t expect it to be completely firm! I should have stressed this in the book. Dairy cheddar isn’t firm on day one, or even week one, either! It hardens over time. So wrap it up in some cheesecloth and store in your fridge, where it will firm up and become sliceable over a couple of weeks or longer. You can air-dry it following the directions in the book as well if your house is cool, but in summer or warmer climates, it’s best to dry it out in your fridge.

5. The most important ingredient for vegan cheesemaking? Patience. Whether you’re going for depth of flavor or a firm texture, you won’t get them in a couple of hours or days. The hardest, firmest cheeses (and I mean as firm as a dairy gouda or cheddar) that require a sharp knife to cut take me weeks to make. They are not instant.

6. The cream cheese, or other cheeses that use yogurt as a starter, like a warmer environment than ones made with rejuvelac. If your house is really cold, you may have trouble getting a really thick, tangy cream cheese. Yogurt bacteria like the warmth, so this is one you could actually make in your dehydrator or an oven set to a low temperature (100 or 110).

7. The book says to “cover the cheese” while culturing. What to use? You can use a lid, as long as it’s not airtight (that’s what I use), plastic wrap just loosely thrown on top, a towel, a plate, just about anything. Note that a towel or other fabric might create a little “rind” on top. No worries.

8. What ‘s the cheese supposed to look like after it has cultured properly? It will be much thicker (and will get even thicker as it chills in the fridge),  will rise slightly, and air pockets will be visible. That’s lactic acid doing its job! Here’s a picture of all the air pockets visible after the cheese has cultured and risen.

IMAG1318

Notice the air pockets!

 

I’ll have to go through my emails and FB messages and see what else I’ve been asked, but these issues come to mind as being asked most often. Hope these few tips help in the cheesemaking process!

 

Comments

  1. Have you ever had the issue where the culture is too thick in an air-dried cheese (cheddar in this case) and it’s difficult to mix the tapioca and carageenan in well .. and doesn’t really want to get to the shiny stage? It became more of a non-shiny glop, but not looking like I feel like it should and has with other cheeses.

    I experimented with half of it and added some water back in.. it seemed like that helped, even though I was mixing it in sort of after the fact.. it did blend.. and it got shinier. It seemed like the culture didn’t have enough liquid to properly do what it was supposed to – is it the tapioca that causes the shininess or the carageenan (or both?)

  2. The first cheese I made was the air-dried cheddar. I used agar and did not know I was supposed to mix it with water first. I had a similar experience as star five. After I heated the mixture and added in the tapioca flour and agar, the mass became dense and difficult to churn. It never turned really shiny but after 4-5 minutes I turned the heat off. I let the cheese cool off on the counter and then put it into a glass bowl in the fridge overnight. Then into the shed for 3 days on a wire rack. Now it has been in a cheese cloth in the fridge for 2-3 days (of course we taste it every day). It had a little rind after three days in the shed and help up its shape nicely and could be sliced with a knife. Since it has been in the fridge, it has hardened even more. It’s pretty cool. My only issue was that I found it too salty (and I am a salt lover). I think the mellow brown rice miso I used must have been too salty and next time I need to use less or buy a “whiter” miso. The cheese is really good on a slice of pear and apple. My very picky husband really likes it.

    Today I making mozzarella!

    • Hi Eva, what are you using for the non-dairy yogurt for the unsweetened nondairy yogurt base for the plain yogurt called for in the mozzarella recipe ? I cannot find unsweetened. Thank you, jean

    • Yes. Almond or cashew milk we not thicken. It will still culture but not get thick. That’s how it is. That’s why commercial varieties use agar and ornery thickening agents.

  3. Thanks for the tips. Since taking your class a few weeks ago, I’ve made smoked provolone, chevre, air-dried parmesan (which is still drying),and have had good success with a couple of batches of soy yogurt.

  4. Annaleigh Belle says:

    The thing about the rejuvalac is that when you get it right, you’ll know it. I made it with quinoa andit was delicious just to drink on it’s own – but I like tart things. I had attempted it before with millet, but it was definitely off since it smelled and tasted bad.

    • I enjoy drinking chilled rejuvelac. A student of mine recently shared the idea of making it into ginger ale – just add some fresh ginger and a little natural sweetener of choice! It’s fizzy and yummy.

  5. This last time I made the Rejuvelac with some mung beans I happened to have in my fridge and they worked perfectly. Thanks for all the tips, I did notice some problems when I started making these in the Texas heat.
    O.K. so I have a question, is there not a Monterrey Jack recipe in the book? Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong place? If not, which cheese would come closest. Pepper Jack has always been my favorite cheese so if I could make some…

  6. So, if I don’t have carageenan (I plan on ordering some, but want to get started right away) I would just omit it completely for the meltable cheeses? Or would I replace it with agar? Thanks in advance for your advice, and thanks also for writing such an awesome book.

    • You can try with agar or just omit it as I mention in paragraph 3 of this post. I have some readers telling me that they used agar and the cheeses melted just fine. I don’t find it melts as well as carrageenan, but go for it.

  7. Using the Artisan Vegan Cheese cookbook, I have made meltable mozzarella and it worked well. I have had no luck with either the meltable cheddar or the sharp cheddar. Neither became firm. I tried to follow the directions exactly – using carrageenan powder for the sharp cheddar. I made my own rejuvelac – could not doing that right affect the firmness? I am no way ready to give up trying – but not sure what to do differently. Thanks!

    • Please read my post, “More Cheesy Tips”, as this addresses this issue. My guess is that you are not cooking them long enough, but there are other considerations. Please read the post and see if it helps.

  8. I am considering buying your book but my children have soy allergies. It makes cooking harder but not impossible. However, I can’t find any info on what base your cheeses use. Are they all cashew or do you use other nuts, milks, soy, etc.?

    • There are a variety of cheeses, each with a different base. Some use cashews, others use soy yogurt. Some readers with soy allergies substitute almond yogurt.

      • Alvin Jarvis says:

        I just purchased your book and excited to get started. My first batch of rejuvelac is culturing now. My wife and I also avoid soy. Is there any substitution suggestions for the miso and the tofu in some of the recipes?

        • You can use more salt to sub for the miso. I think there are only two recipes in the book that call for tofu, and there is no substitute for them. The question I would ask is why you are avoiding natural soy foods, which are very different from isolated soy protein. They are quite different animals.

          • Miyoko, I just ordered the book, but I am wondering about this post, is there another option from soy or almond yogurt? I am guessing you have the the recipe in your book, but my daughter has sensitivity to both, are there alternates I will be able to use?

          • You can make yogurt with just cashew milk or coconut milk. It won’t thicken as much as soy, but you can still use it for cheese as long as it’s tangy. If you use commercial, make sure it’s unsweetened.

        • southrivermiso(dot)com make a variety of non-soya miso’s, as well as the more common soya versions.

    • I’ve been able to make all the recipes soy-free and they turn out quite tasty. There’s non-soy vegan yogurts available to get your first batch of yogurt going. I used coconut yogurt…the minute amount of sugar that would’ve been in 3 Tbs of that didn’t effect anything. I use different milks, from Purely Decadent’s coconut milk to homemade nut milks. For the miso, chickpea miso works really well, if you can find it. My only challenge has been to bake gluten-free breads worthy of such tasty cheese :)

      • Coleen, so glad you’ve had such success with the cheeses using substitutes! Chickpea miso is wonderful – a product that is hard to come by, however, in some places. But very mellow and perfect for the cheeses indeed.

      • Coleen and Miyoko,

        I just did that with the cashew cream cheese! For some reason, I cannot find the unsweetened soy yogurt here right now, so I took a chance with the coconut yogurt. The cream cheese turned out beautifully tangy!

        Coleen, I made the 18-hour bread that is floating around the Internet right now using a gluten-free flour blend, and that bread turned out very well.

  9. I’ve tried making the yogurt but it never thickened. I cooked it till reached 110 degrees and I let it sit overnight. I did, however put an airtight lid on it (for when it said “cover”)–could that be the reason? Also my apartment isn’t super warm. In any case, even after refrigerating it for a couple of days, it’s still only the consistency of milk.

    I’ve made the the chèvre and gruyere, both were very good and we did a taste test with the real thing and were surprised at how similar they were. The chevre wasn’t quite as “sour” but the gruyere was almost identical in flavor! I’m in the process of making the sharp cheddar now. Thank you!

    • Chris, the yogurt has to be maintained at 110 degrees for 4 – 8 hours, or it won’t thicken. It can’t just reach it, then cool down. Try wrapping the jar in a warm blanket or towels, and set put it in an oven that has been heated then turned off. Are you using soy milk? It won’t thicken in the refrigerating – the yogurt bacteria only grow in warm temperatures.

      I’m thrilled the cheeses came out! Next time, try culturing the chevre a little longer until it achieves the tang that you like. Good luck!

      • Thank you! One last question I forgot to ask, I am having difficulty finding carrageenan. What little I have found online costs more than I can afford. Is there somewhere in particular you can suggest finding it?
        Thanks again!!

    • Vegan yogurt tip that works great for me…

      It’s a cold spring here in Chicago, so when I make the vegan yogurt I triple the recipe that is in the book, pour it into glass jars, and then wrap all of the glass jars in an ELECTRIC BLANKET set at medium low. This really helps the yogurt so set up quickly and thickly. Don’t set it too hot or too long though, or it will “break” just as Miyoko says in her book. Making bigger batches of the yogurt all at once really works for me because it allows me to feel more free to experiment with the yogurt and not feel so “precious” about how I spend it in recipes. It is SO GOOD on fried potatoes!!!!!! Thank you Miyoko! I also had great results with your meltable mozzarella… and made the best vegan pizza I’ve ever eaten!

  10. Connie Fletcher says:

    What fun I’m having culturing cashews!!! I was very surprised this morning to wake up to my Basic Cashew Cheese having grown so much in the quart jar…I wasn’t expecting that much growth!!! Thank you so very much for all you do!

  11. cj healey says:

    In the book it suggests mixing the grains for the rejuvelac, here it says not to mix them. Can you clarify? Is it because they sprout at different times?

    • Ooh, I fear I haven’t been clear! I totally understand the confusion. I am not sure how the book ended up with that – bad idea. Different grains sprout at different times, so using one type is better.

  12. A question about the carrageenan: is there a specific type that you use? Most of the products I’ve found are for molecular gastronomy, and specify iota-, kappa-, or lambda-carrageenana. Cursory research would seem to indicate that iota or kappa are the variants to use, but I thought I’d put the question out there.

    As the other commenters have already said, thanks for your book! (My loved ones with dairy allergies thank you even more, though.)

  13. cj healey says:

    can you please clarify a few things that book does not specifically explain:

    i made the basic cashew cheese, but it didn’t really grow in size over night. i’m not really sure it grew at all (now 1 1/2 days old). is that a problem? it doesn’t smell bad, and its taste seems ok.

    can you explain why this isn’t going bad when it is sitting out without refrigeration for days?

    in the book you just say to “cover” it when culturing , here you say don’t cover it with something airtight – i have a lid sitting on top of the glass bowl and it is just slightly angled so it won’t be air tight. is that ok?

    you don’t mention if culturing should be done in a darker area like the sprouting, or if sitting on the counter in regular light is okay.

    i noticed that parts of the top of the cheese are turning a darker color light brown. the book doesn’t mention anything about the possibility of this – is this ok?

    after the culturing, when you say – cover it and store in the frig for 2 weeks – i’m not sure if it means the same covering that is not air tight, or no air and wrapped in plastic. can you be specific?

    thanks for your help.

    • It might not grow overnight unless you live in a hot climate. It might take 2-3 days. It all depends. You can culture it anywhere warm but not hot. The top is probably turning brown because of exposure to air, thereby drying. What are you using to cover it? Cover it loosely with plastic wrap or lid. To store, you can put in a jar with a lid, plastic container with a lid, Pyrex with a lid, or whatever you have.

      • cj healey says:

        sorry but i’m still not clear on that. when you say use a pyrex with a lid or jar with a lid, do you mean to close the lid? wouldn’t that make it air tight? i have it in a glass bowl right now with the plastic lid top slightly ajar so that its not air tight.
        yes, i’m sure the dark areas are from air hitting it since the top right now is very loose – but does that mean that it is spoiled where it has turned brownish and it should not be eaten?

        it is not clear to me if the goal is for it to increase in size. is that always supposed to happen? is that how you know it’s done culturing? if it doesn’t happen, is it spoiled?

        i tasted it today – it tasted ok, but has not increased in size that i can notice.

        • You can just set the lid on top. It doesn’t make it airtight, and there is air in the container. Air circulation isn’t required. How do you know when it’s ready? When it no longer tastes like the sum of its parts and instead tastes like cheese.

  14. Vegan Cheese Lover says:

    I’ve made the yogurt twice now, and it while it thickens slightly, it never actually sets up. I used unsweetened almond milk and cooked it to 110*. Then I stirred in vanilla soy yogurt and let it sit for 10 hours, but it curdled. The next time, I let one jar sit for 6 hours, and it sorta got a little bit thick. I let the other jar sit for 10 hours, and it curdled, I drained it slightly, and now it is thicker, but it’s not “set” like a yogurt. What am I doing wrong?

    • I had the same problem with my first three attempts at yogurt. When I finally gave in and bought a yogurt maker, it’s directions explained that you need some sugar. Try adding a tablespoon of sugar. This would be really useful to have explained in the recipe. My yogurt now thickens but tastes kind of gross. I threw out the cream cheese and monteray jack I made with it :(

      • The fact is you don’t need sugar. Sugar does aid in fermentation, but you only need a little, and the soy or almonds, if enough are used, should be adequate. Cow milk has 11 grams compared to 8 for almond milk, and only 6 for soy. I never use sweetened soy milk – in fact, I make my own soy milk and it works beautifully. What milk are you using? Almond milk will never get as thick as soy milk yogurt. The commercial almond milk yogurts are thickened with tapioca, carrageenan, and other thickeners. My guess is that if you are using commercial almond milk, the water content may be too high. Try making your own, using a cup of almonds and no more than 2 1/2 cups of water.

  15. Can I rescue this recipe, or is it too late? I am on my first try of the air-dried gouda recipe, and it currently has a dough consistency, it’s not “firm” as it should be at all. I think I erred in the agar, because reading here about this technique of mixing it with water on the stove, then adding the cheese — I didn’t do that. My question is: Can I do the following to try to revive this recipe, even though I’ve already cooked and cooled the mixture, chilled it for about 5 hours, and have left it drying out for about 12 hours at this point? I’m thinking I would throw everything back in the blender and make it smooth again, then follow the instructions here to boil the agar first, then add the re-blended cheese, and proceed with the rest of the recipe again to cook it until it gets stretchy and smooth, cool it, refrigerate it, and air dry it for a few days? Thank you for your help, Miyoko, and any other readers who can chime in!

    • Sorry for the delay – am behind on my blog. A reader reported success doing this with the mozzarella, so I say give it a go and report back!

  16. Hi Miyoko
    I was glad to meet you at the Vegan Show in NYC. I have made a few of the cheeses and we all fell in love with them. I even made a few batches of the Almond Cheese and took to church no one could tell it had almonds…..
    I made the cheddar cheese and it tastes great but the oil separated while I was cooking the mixture. What went wrong? I was thinking maybe I cooked it too long, it says 3 to 5 minutes, when do you start counting the time?
    The meltable mozzarella was amazing, we have used it in pizza, and sandwiches.

    Thank you!

    • Yes,it was cooked too long. While I give oil as an option for the sharp cheddar, I never actually add it myself. You really can’t go by the time, but the appearance. It will start to look like cookie dough, pull away from the sides a little, and be shiny. Then stop.

  17. smasheasy smasheasy says:

    Just embarking on this cheesemaking journey, and split a case of non-dairy yogurt with my local natural foods store. I told them I wanted soy yogurt, but they bought coconut milk yogurt (plain variety, anyway)! Well….it’ll be interesting to find out how that works. I’ll keep you posted! It’s been a challenging (and a little expensive) start since I live in the mountains with the closest city 90 minutes away. But I’m on the 2nd day of making my Rejuvelac, and have almost everything else. (Need to order carrageenan, apparently!)

    • Coconut milk yogurt may be sweetened, even if plain (check the ingredients, and the taste!). If it is sweet, I would use that as the “mother” to culture your own soy milk yogurt for cheesemaking purposes, and just enjoy the coconut yogurt with fruit. It should still have active cultures in it that should allow you to start your own batch of unsweetened soy yogurt that will be much more appropriate for cheesemaking. Good luck!

  18. I’m still waiting for my ‘cheese’ book to arrive and very excited. In anticipation I went to the organic shop and bought wheat berries in order to get a headstart on the rejuvelac process. However, I’ve since been reading that it’s important to only use soft wheat berries. I have no idea which type of berries I bought…they look the same to me. After three days they have little tails, so I have added the water to start the fermentation process. Does it make a difference if they are hard or soft berries? Looking forward to my first cheese-tasting! Thank you!

    • I don’t think it makes a difference. Why do they say it’s important only to use soft? Pardon my ignorance, but I have not heard that before.

  19. I remember going to several health food stores on a hunt for soft wheat to make rejuvelac.

    I just checked my sprouting books, and in Ann Wigmore’s books and Steve “Sproutman” Meyerowitz books they recommend hard wheat for growing wheatgrass and soft wheat for making rejuvelac.

    On page 7 of Ann Wigmore’s Recipes for Longer Life published in 1978, the basic rejuvelac recipe calls for 2 cups of organic soft white pastry wheat. She also notes that “You can experiment and use any hulled seed – try different varieties of wheat, or millet, oats, rice, barley, rye, buckwheat, etc.”

    I have seen the “use soft wheat for making rejuvelac” recommendation treated as a “rule” on blogs and forums that gets interpreted to mean that we should not use any other grain.

    @Karen N., you might want to check out Sproutpeople.org, they make their living sprouting and selling sprouting seeds. http://sproutpeople.org/wheat.html

    From their wheat sprouting seed description:
    “We don’t carry Spring Wheat as it has a shorter shelf life. We don’t carry Soft Wheat as it doesn’t store well and often sprouts poorly.

    If you want to make Rejuvelac we suggest (and use ourselves) Rye, but any Grain can be used.”

    • Well, I don’t know about all that. I just went to the store where I buy wheat berries and noticed they only sell hard, so that’s what I’ve been using, and it works just fine. Also, millet usually won’t sprout, as it’s been degermed, at least the kind sold today. Don’t know about 1978.

  20. Yes, I have made rejuvelac with soft wheat, hard wheat, kamut, rye and barley in the past and they were all fine. It’s been awhile since I’ve made rejuvelac. I don’t remember having a preference for the rejuvelac made with one grain over another.

  21. Hi Miyoko,

    I made the almond ricotta and meltable mozzarella this weekend so used them for the stuffed shells. I’m having so much fun reading through your book, making some great cheeses and enjoying every bite! My family really loved the shells and couldn’t believe I actually made the cheeses! Thank you for helping me on this new and exciting journey of cheese making!! You’re so patient in explaining and showing us how it’s done. The videos REALLY help A LOT! I think I speak for many here in saying we all appreciate your kindness and guidance. Thanks again.

  22. Melissa says:

    I’m not sure if this was addressed yet, but I can’t eat cashews. I know that cashews are the base of all your cheeses. Are there other nuts that can be used instead?

    • Cashews are not the base of all of my cheeses. Some use almonds, pine nuts, or just soy yogurt. I’ve chosen the best nut that I was able to determine for each cheese. You can make nut cheeses using other nuts, but the results will be different.

  23. Dear Miyoko,
    I’ bought your book and the recepies look fantastic. I have a question, though:
    My blender will not handle cashews. Could I replace them with ground almonds, which I can easily get in a store? And is liquid fermented berad (in Germany “Brottrunk”) an alternative to rejuvilac?
    Thank you so much for an answer!

    • I am not familiar with the fermented drink you mention, but I’m sure it would work. I have used all sorts of fermented drinks and they all work. However I have found rejuvelac to be a very consistent beverage to work with. But I have used sauerkraut juice, kombucha, and other fermented beverages. Yes you can use ground almonds, but please understand that the taste and texture will not be the same. In writing the book I used different nuts for different cheeses because they yield different results. Good luck in your cheese experimentation.

  24. Hello – I am really curious to know what type of cheese mold is the best to use? Do you use ring molds or what? thank you!

  25. hello, i have a potentially very strange question… would it be safe to culture cooked pureed potatoes at room temperature???

  26. Miyoko, tonight I have just discovered you, watched a video of you, and bought your book. My daughter cannot eat gluten, dairy, or cane sugar. We have been letting her eat Daiya cheese simply so she does not get denied what she sees other people eating. I am so glad to find your book.

    And all the questions you have answered here…you are so kind.

    Anyway, you have answered the question about caraggeenan substitutes. Can you please help with the following questions:

    1. I’m not sure if I can get sproutable quinoa and I want to avoid rice and need to avoid wheat and oats. I think I read that mung beans could be used to make rejuvelac. Do you agree?

    2. Is there a substitute for nutritional yeast? From what I have read it is a glutamate like MSG so I would rather avoid it.

    3. I try and avoid seaweeds from Asiatic oceans since the nuclear meltdown in Japan. I read agar can also grow along the Atlantic coast. Do you know if there are specific brands or varieties of agar that are not from Asiatic oceans?

    Thanks again for being such a great teacher.

    • Pam, glad you’re enjoying the videos. I’m not sure I can answer all your questions, but about the first, there’s no worry about gluten even if you make rejuvelac from wheat. The gluten is consumed during the sprouting, and no gluten remains. But sproutable quinoa is pretty easy to get if you don’t want to use wheat berries. I’ve never used mung beans, but I have heard that it works, so give it a try. I used buckwheat groats once, too, and that worked (make sure it’s not steamed).

      As for nutritional yeast, there’s no real substitute. Glutamates are found in many foods, including vegetables. My understanding is that there is really not a problem when they occur as part of a whole food. The problems arise when they ware isolated (as in many foods, such as isolated soy protein, which is very different from tofu). Here’s one link. http://optimumwellness.com/2011/09/21/nutritional-yeast-what-is-it-do-i-want-it/ If you still want to avoid it, I would suggest you make the recipes that don’t contain any, or a minimal amount and just omit. However, for certain flavors like cheddar, I found it to be invaluable without using traditional cheddar cultures (which would have been too complicated to put in a book).

      I don’t know of any links for purveyors of agar not from Asiatic oceans. I suggest you contact various brands and ask. And if you wouldn’t mind reporting back here on that, that would be great! I’m sure others would appreciate it (as would I!). Thanks for writing!

      • Thank you for the information. I wish I knew which online resource to trust regarding the whole nutritional yeast controversy. Especially since it just tastes so good. I think I will just not use it for now and see how the cheeses turn out. Fortunately I’m not a fan of cheddar cheese, though if I did want to make that a little nutritional yeast is probably not going to harm us no matter what. I made a cashew cheese this week using probitotics and left out the nutritional yeast and it was very good.

        Interesting about the gluten being consumed. Since this is for my kids I am hypervigilant. Maybe I’ll run up to the co-op and get some buckwheat. I’d rather start with something you have had success with then experiment with the mung beans. (I keep mung beans on hand to make tortillas and also to sprout for our chickens–living in the desert I like to make sure they get to eat something green each day.)

        I want to get the rejuvelac going so I can start making cheese when my book arrives later this week. My first cheese will be the meltable mozzarella. I have a great almond flour and cauliflower crust I make. Putting your cheese on it will be wonderful.

        Thanks again.

  27. Pauline says:

    Hi Miyoko- this is a bit unrelated but since you are an expert on using agar I was wondering if you could help me troubleshoot. I’ve been attempting to make almond yogurt for months now and each batch comes with different results (I am using a recipe I found online). The last batch came out having little gelatinous blobs in it which I am assuming are from the agar powder. The recipe states to boil the milk, add the agar (1 tsp) and whisk for 2 minutes, then remove from heat.
    Have you even seen little blobs like this and do you think there is a way to avoid it? I also use Tapioca flour as a thickener in the recipe. Thanks again for any and all input~

    • Can you send me the recipe? It’s a bit hard to imagine. Sounds like the agar is clumping in the yogurt because it’s added to boiling milk. Agar dissolves better when added to a cold liquid, then brought to a boil.

      • Pauline says:

        Sure! And thank you for the reply:
        Basically you heat up 4 cups of almond milk (I use homemade) and then once it comes to a boil, add the agar and tapioca flour. Boil and whisk for 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat. Do you think it’s best to add it before it heats up then? Or boil the agar separately? Thanks again!

        • Here’s what I would do. Add the agar to the cold almond milk. Bring it to a boil and let it boil (a low boil) for 2 – 3 minutes. Dissolve the tapioca in a small amount of water or almond milk, and whisk into the mixture. Cook until it’s thickened. Let it cool to 110 degrees, then mix in the culture, and let it set (maintaining temperature the whole time).

          • Pauline says:

            Thank you so much- it worked!! Any tips on flavoring the yogurt? I added some vanilla bean this time. Any other ideas? You are so helpful, thanks again!

  28. Hi Miyoko,

    I’m not sure if I can get sproutable quinoa and I want to avoid rice and need to avoid wheat, barley, rye, triticale and oats (in other words, gluten.) I think I read that mung beans could be used to make rejuvelac. I have them on my shelf. Can they be used interchangeably with grains to make rejuvelac?

    Thanks.

  29. I am so glad you have a “look inside” feature on amazon.com. I found the rejuvelac recipe and have started it in anticipation of receiving your book this week. I am soaking amaranth, buckwheat, mung beans, and quinoa (separately.) I will see which does best in our 80 degree house.

    My actual questions is: Do you give the leftover grains to your chickens after you’ve finished making your rejuvelac? It seems a shame to waste them if they are safe for birds and I wondered if you have tried this.

    Thanks again,

  30. I know I’m not “supposed to” but what will happen if I use sweetened vanilla coconut yogurt as my starter?

  31. In your book you say to keep the air dried cheeses in a cool room (I don’t remember the specific temperature.) We live in Tucson. Our house is only 80.6 right now (it was warmer yesterday.) I don’t foresee us ever having a cool room. Maybe the garage in winter. Can you harden these cheeses (especially the parmesan) in a fridge? What happens if I keep it out in an 80 degree room?

    Thanks.

  32. jancarpenter55 says:

    Is there a store chain in Central California that carries carrageenan? I am having the worst time finding it so that I can make cheese. Also, some people say that it isn’t healthy to eat…is that true? Thanks!

    • No, there is no chain store in California where you can get carrageenan. You can get it online, including Amazon. The best place with the best price is modernistpantry.com. You can get 100 grams for $8.
      As for the other comment…there’s a lot of stuff circulating on the internet. There was once a canola oil scare (not related to GMOs) about it being related to Agent Orange. That was all discredited. There has been basically one researcher, Joanne Tobacman, who has been villifying carrageenan, which is essentially purified Irish Moss. It is allegedly causing problems, such as intestinal issues, that Irish Moss has been used to treat for hundreds of years. Personally, I don’t understand why she’s not on a crusade against meat. So I am not convinced (nor is the FDA, although you may not trust them), but if you are concerned, check out my tips for substitutions on my blog. The meltable cheeses won’t melt as well, however.

  33. maccaslam says:

    Hi, I have been making your cheeses for a while now and was just researching some new ideas and came across a cheese making site that sells ingredients and they were selling moulds to enhance the flavour. I was wondering if you know if this would work in vegan cheese? I was thinking it could be possible to make a bergen Blue cheese or just make certain cheeses like the cammembert stronger with out over drying. Any info would be great.

    • I make cheeses inoculated with various molds. Check out the camembert/brie on my FB page. I am currently experimenting with a blue mold. The process is far more technical and involved than anything I have in the book, which is why I avoided the subject. Some of the molds and cultures are also grown in a dairy base (they can eat lactose, dextrose, etc., so you have to first confirm that they are vegan). I really can’t go into how it is done here. Each mold and culture requires a different set of rules, ambient temperature, and humidity, and it would require another book. In other words, simply adding a mold or culture to the recipes in the book won’t do the trick. The traditional flavor of real camembert/brie can only be achieved by adding one of a few molds, including penicillin candidum, among others. Unfortunately, the process is highly involved and beyond the scope of the book or anything I can approach here.

      • maccaslam says:

        Thank you for the reply. Well I hope one day you will come out with a follow up book broaching the subject of moulds etc. I have found this probably the most interesting thing I have done and being able to play around with flavours and textures has been amazing. Thank you so much for releasing your book. Every person I have served them to has said they are the best vegan cheese they have ever eaten.

  34. maccaslam says:

    One more question about carrageenan. I have noticed places selling kappa and Iota carrageenan. Do you have a preference?

  35. Lamourah says:

    My rejuvelac smells a little off but it does have the tangy lemon taste and is cloudy, is it ok to still use?
    Thanks!

    • I’m guessing yes – everyone’s nose is a little different. If it’s tangy, bubbly (especially when stirred), and cloudy, it sounds like lactic acid bacteria are thriving!

      • Thanks! I have made the nondairy yogurt twice now. The first time I used a plain store bought soya yogurt as a starter because that is all I could find. The second time I double the batch because I loved it so much and wanted lots for cheese making as well. I added about 1/2 cup of yogurt from my first batch as a starter to 1/2 gallon almond/cashew milk and left if in a warm place overnight. In the morning it had not turned to yogurt. I thought perhaps it was a bit too warm when I added the started or the starter was not strong enough. I just added more starter (about another 1/2 cup) and will leave it for another 4 hours to see if it will take. Any thoughts on this one? Thanks!

        • Unfortunately, almond, cashew, and other nut milks don’t solidify like soy, due to the low protein content. Adding more starter won’t help. That’s why commercial varieties of these yogurts have added thickening agents. However, you can still use for cheese as long as it’s tangy.

  36. You have mentioned a few times that when making almond milk or coconut milk yogurt that it will not thicken like soy yogurt. If so, can you still use it in your recipes? Will the cheese be softer? How will I know when it is done? I have mine sitting in the dehydrator for 6 hours now at 110 degrees and it Is still very “watery” and “milk like”.

  37. Is there a way to make yogurt without a starter? In other words, if I were to leave some soy milk out of the fridge, would the bacteria in the air eventually turn it into yogurt?

    • If you leave soy milk out, it will certainly culture and turn sour, due to lactic acid fermentation. However, it won’t become yogurt. Yogurt culture is a particular type of lactic acid bacteria (there are hundreds or thousands) and requires a higher temperature (about 110) to work. I have seen recipes using chili crowns as a starter, but I’ve never tried it.

  38. I have been meaning to try to make vegan cheese from your book and I think I just have to do it!! I tried some of your cheeses at The Seed event his summer in NYC and I fell in love!!

  39. Debbie Collarin says:

    Have made what I think is my first batch of Rejuvelac. I used brown rice. Very little sprouting but saw some. Today checked it (day 3-4 after putting it in the 2 separate jars)…I had placed a towel over it in a small corner of counter for darkness and some heat. Today checked, liquid is cloudy, not bad smell not exactly lemony. There is white bubbles on top of both but I just read (I thought that was ok). I’m going to strain and see what happens. Does this make sense??

    Saw comments on coconut yogurt… of course after I made a batch of soy milk but only yogurt I had was coconut. It actually has a nice pleasant taste.. did I do something wrong. I will say that nothing happened when I just left in quart jar. After 4 hours I poured into the small jars of my yogurt maker…let it set another 3 hours inside there and that is when it came out nice and creamy

  40. Hi Miyoko!
    I have a few questions (of a general nature – not recipe specific). Where I live (regional Australia) it’s really hard to find a lot of ‘specialty’ stuff. The main problem is the yogurt. Shops only carry one brand of non-dairy yogurt (soy) but it’s so artificial it doesn’t even have the bacteria in, so it’s no use to start my own yogurt. They now have started selling coconut yogurt, which has the bacteria, but also a lot of sugar. Do you think this yogurt would work?

    Second question. I’m a heavy kombucha drinker so I have been making all of your cheeses using kombucha, instead of rejuvelac, and I’ve had success every time. But, seeing as I don’t know what the original version of the cheese should taste like (like you, I have not tasted a lot of the dairy ‘originals’), I am not 100% the results I am getting with the kombucha are optimal. It it right to substitute rejuvelac with kombucha at a 1:1 ratio?

    Third question, in case the coconut yogurt fails. Do you think I could use kombucha to start yogurt? I understand I will be adding a lot more liquid using kombucha, but I could perhaps compensate in the second stage of cheese making…

    Thank you so much for coming up with these recipes, they are just divine!!

    • Hi, Manu. You can use the sweet coconut yogurt as a starter to make your own. It should be fine, especially subsequent batches.

      I have used kombucha, as well as sauerkraut juice. When I did a side-by-side comparison with rejuvelac, I found that rejuvelac cultured the cheeses faster, indicating a higher ratio of live lactic acid bacteria. That was the main difference – length of time for culturing. Of course, the lactic acid profile differs from culture to culture, as well as location to location, so there will always be some subtle differences in flavor.

      Yogurt cultures are different from kombucha and rejuvelac, but apparently, you can use chili crowns to make yogurt. I’ve never done it, but I’ve read about it. You might google it and try. You can also order a nondairy yogurt culture online at http://www.culturesforhealth.com.

  41. Hello again!
    Reading through this page I just realised that I ordered the wrong type of carrageenan… I ordered IOTA instead of KAPPA.
    Do you think it will still work? What changes should I make to the recipes?
    Thanks a million!
    Cheers
    Manu

  42. hi, i have your book and its amazing!
    i have already tried few of the recipes and they turned out great!
    i got a question about your paragraph on patience, you mentioned it can take weeks for a cheese to be as deep flavoured and firm as the dairy, but i couldnt get in what environment it should be aged at, and at what stage, can you help me clear this please?
    thank you very much!

  43. Hello, I’ve been making wonderful cashew cheese for months now and all the family love it. But now we are experiencing the most bizarre ‘summer’ weather ever. What that means for my culturing cashew cheese is that for the first time it developed a furry white bloom over the top of it.
    My question is…can I just scrape that off and eat what is underneath? Or should I throw it? Hopefully not, as it smells like it should do, but just want to be safe.
    Thank you :{)

  44. Is it normal/okay for rejuvelac to lose its taste? I made it about two weeks ago and it smelled and tasted perfect. It has been in closed glass jars in the fridge since then, and I always taste a little every time I use it to make sure it’s still good. It has lost almost all its flavor (just tastes like quinoa-water without any sourness) and doesn’t smell like anything. It seems to be still working for culturing the cheese, but I was curious if I’m not storing it in the best way.

  45. I already found the answer to my first question in these comments (why is my almond milk/cashew yogurt not setting) you say almond will be thinner than soy. Though I’m not a big soy fan I’m going to try making a batch with soy milk.

    My next question. My daughter is allergic to cane sugar. Since Amande yogurt went away I can’t find dairy-free yogurt without cane sugar. I have been using probiotics to make my yogurts. Do you have experience with probiotics and how many may be necessary for a batch of yogurt?

    Buying vegan yogurt starter is expensive, plus we live in Arizona and I don’t want the starter to sit in our metal mailbox frying in the sun, so probiotics seem my best choice.

    Thank you

    • Probiotics can be of different strains of lactobacilli, and may or may not work. Yogurt cultures are specific strains that work to thicken milks. Once you buy it, you can keep using your homemade yogurt as a starter, so one pack of starter actually goes a long way.

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