Getting Cheesy

With the release of my vegan cheese book earlier this month, and my feature article in VegNews arriving in mailboxes this week, people have been reaching out to me to comment or inquire about the cheese making process. I’m thrilled to have inspired so many people to hit their kitchens to brave the culturing process from rejuvelac to cheeses. Yes, I may have finished writing the book a year and a half ago, but my experimentation with vegan cheese continues, and to this day, I find new ways to culture, age, and preserve cheeses. It just doesn’t seem to stop — I keep finding new ideas for new cheeses, as well as ways to improve on the old. Because of that, I thought I’d answer some of the most often asked questions, and share some of the tips I’ve developed since writing the book. There will be more to come that I’ll share along my own continuing journey!

Q: What’s the difference between the recipes in your book and the ones in VegNews? 
VegNews gave me a perfect opportunity to rework some of my recipes: the magazine prefers recipes to be original and not previously published, so I had to revisit some of the flavors that the editor chose, and figure out a way to make them new. I also wanted to make them a little easier and more accessible  for a wider reading audience, utilizing agar rather than carrageenan. This required me to change some of the methods in order to avoid the hard or rubbery texture agar can produce .  And while most of the VegNews recipes are just that – simplified, or  just different – one cheese, the Buffalo Mozzarella, did improve. Now, the Buffalo Mozzarella in my  book had already garnered some attention since Vegansaurus wrote about it way back in 2010, and it is indeed delicious; I have even served it to omnivores who never realized what they were eating. But one very discriminating omnivore commented that while the flavor was excellent, the texture was not quite the same as the real thing. That really bugged me, and knew I wanted to get it right. The recipe in VegNews is indeed my favorite, with a texture remarkably close to the “real thing,” and I’m glad I had the chance to rework it.

Q: Should you cover the cheeses with a towel so that they breathe, or make them airtight?
You can use a lid, plate, towel, or saran wrap. It shouldn’t be airtight, but it doesn’t need to breather totally, either.

Q: What type of carrageenan should I use – kappa or iota? 
Kappa.

Q: Won’t coconut oil make the cheeses taste coconut-y?
Not if you use refined coconut oil. Both Spectrum and Whole Foods’ proprietary brand, 365, make them. There are other brands as well.

Q: My cheddar turned out soft. Why didn’t it harden?
Making vegan cheese by culturing is not an exact science. I suppose if we made them in a controlled environment with the right temperature, humidity, etc., measuring the temperature of the cheese as it cooks, etc., more precise results could be obtained by everyone. Unfortunately, differences in room temperature, the length of time the cashews soak, the strength of the blender used, etc., will create slightly different results. To make the firmest cheese, it’s best to use a high-speed blender and soak the cashews the shortest length of time possible, and then make sure you culture it until it is very sharp (this may take 72 hours or more depending on the ambient temperature). It will thicken as it cultures (this is also important for the flavor of the miso and nutritional yeast to meld and become cheddary). Next, make sure that the mixture is cooked until very gooey, thick, and pulls away from the sides of the pan (with the carrageenan in it). You should then have a block of cheese that can be unmolded and sliced, albeit soft. With a food processor or regular blender, the cashews will need to soak longer, which means that they will have a higher water content. You could opt to reduce the rejuvelac to 1/4 cup, and increase it slowly until you can get the nuts to puree until smooth.

Q: My mozzarella balls didn’t harden. What went wrong?
One of the single most important rules in using agar is that it has to dissolve completely. This means that it must be simmered or boiled for several minutes. If it the liquid mixture is too thick and dry looking, try adding another tablespoon of liquid and covering the pan to retain moisture. It really needs to boil for 3 – 4 minutes before you add the cheese mixture. Also, make sure that you use pure agar powder – not the flakes, and not an agar mixture that is cut with sugar (some Asian stores sell agar cut with sugar).

Q: My cheese smells off.
As with any sort of culturing or fermenting, you want only the friendly bacteria to grow. Make sure that your container and all implements are clean before you start, and avoid dipping your fingers into it as it cultures. Use a clean spoon every time you taste.

Q: Can I use agar flakes instead of powder?
You can, but you’ll have to use 3 times as much. It will also be harder to dissolve in the small amount of water called for in the recipes. I don’t recommend it, but it can be done. Flakes are also harder to measure in volume, as they tend to fluff up.

A tip for air-dried cheeses: 
To prevent mold, my book recommends salt. Salt dries the surface, however, and at times, it cracks (not all the time, however). More recently, I’ve developed a new trick that is superior: I make a brine from wine (either red or white) and salt simply by mixing the two (about a tablespoon of salt to a cup of wine). I dip the cheese in brine. Then I air-dry. Every day, I brush the cheese lightly with the wine brine. Works great.

A tip for melting the Meltable cheeses: 
Use higher temperatures, 400 – 450, for better melting and browning. If the recipe states a lower temperature, raise it at the end to encourage the browning.

A tip for a quick meltable cheese that can be spooned  or squeezed into pasta tubes, chilies for chile rellenos, etc:. 
Make the Meltable Muenster (no culturing or aging necessary!), and add half the agar called for. A student in class did this by accident, and the result was a really soft, scoopable cheese that could actually be piped into zucchini blossoms, canneloni shells, etc.

Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks for this excellent information, Miyoko. I’m so impressed with these recipes.

  3. Miyoko – you’re fantastic, and we’re so glad to have the book – and many of my friends have been raving, and experimenting with it – with great results.

    Thank you!

  4. Thanks for these!

    I bought the iota carrageenan — is there going to be a big difference between that and the kappa? Is it OK to use up the iota in these recipes?

    • Iota is generally what’s used in drinks like soymilk to give it some thickness. I don’t think it will be firm enough. You might want to try a combination of agar and carrageenan – for every tablespoon of carrageenan called for in the recipe, add 2 tablespoons of agar in addition to the iota — and see if this helps it firm up. This is pure conjecture on my part, but it is what I would probably try.

      • I also didn’t notice the specifics about the carrageenan so I don’t think mine is the right kind (bought it at a store that sells it for people who brew their own beer). I would have used agar which I already had but I didn’t know if the same instructions applied? Would you put it directly in the cheese with the tapioca flour or dissolve it first and then stick it in?

        • In the glossary, it states to use kappa carrageenan. I don’t think this is what brewers use. Agar powder can be used for some cheeses, not all. It doesn’t melt, so it’s a bad choice for the meltable ones. Depending on how much is required, you can either add it directly or would have to dissolve it separately.

    • Thanks! The muenster did turn out soft (more spreadable than sliceable), so I’ll give that a shot next time around. Will also note it in my review.

    • The muenster will still melt that way, so you can use it in dishes that require a melty cheese.

  5. Miyoko, I am so excited to start trying the cultured cheeses I almost can’t stand it! I’m reading through the book first, and just ordered carrageenan (from Willpowder) this afternoon. I too was stumped when presented with kappa, iota, or lambda as the choices on the websites I looked at, but reading through descriptions I picked kappa, which after seeing your post here, turned out to be correct. I’ve already left a reply to a review by someone else about the book not specifying which type of carrageenan, and directed them here, so hopefully people who have questions will read through the comments/replies on Amazon (I always read the replies to comments). The cheese I most look forward to trying is the harder Parmesan style cheese. I’ve been making Parmesan type sprinkles with the usual suspects for years (nutri yeast, nuts, miso, salt, etc.) but one that’s actually been cultured- can’t wait to try it! Thanks so much for this book, and I will keep checking back for new ideas.

    • Carolyn, thanks for your comments and I wish you luck with the cheese. Another reader reported to me that he was “stunned” by how close the parmesan was to the real thing. Hope yours turns out. By the way, the book’s glossary does in fact state what kind of carrageenan to use (it says to use kappa). I guess most people don’t read the glossary.

  6. HI Miyoko! I have been reading over all the recipies religiously over the past couple of weeks since I got the book. I am very excited to try them out…..but somehow can’t get past the cultured basic cheese because it finds its way onto bread and into my mouth before I can use it for another recipie, LOL. However, I have been using probiotics and miso as starters so my question for you is re rejuvelac. I haven’t found any commercially available here in Chicago so I picked up some rye berries from whole foods a couple of weeks back. My first batch seemed to be ok after the second day and I strained it off and refrigerated it, then added more water to make a second batch from the same grains. Within 10 hours or so there was a nasty (I mean nasty puke-inducing) smell in my kitchen and I realized it was the second batch of rejuvelac. Sooo gross, both jars went down the garbage disposal immediately. Also my “batch 1” was ok but seemed to develop an off smell after about a week, and I thought that in your book you said it can last a couple of weeks in the fridge. I wonder if you have any ideas about where I went wrong? I looked over the berries before soaking and didn’t notice any misshapen or questionnable grains. It was warm in Chicago and in my kitchen (maybe 75-78 degrees and I wonder if it was just too warm? Any guidance you have would be appreciated. It was my first time ever making rejuvelac and after that experience I have to wonder about people who drink the stuff. 😉

    And thanks again for a much needed book in the vegan world!! My first week of transition from vegetarian to vegan was fraught with cheese withdrawl and I like to think that cashew cheese kept me from stabbing everyone around me with forks. 🙂

    • Thanks, Sprout, for your comments. My guess is that you re-used the grains for the second batch. I’ve never done that before. My rejuvelac does keep for a couple of weeks, but every situation, home, refrigerator is different. But at least it sounds like the first batch was successful.

  7. Hi Miyoko! We made the fresh mozzarella the other day; our blender really doesn’t like cashews, but with a little bit of help, it does a good job.

    I had a quick question: if using hempseeds for the camembert, do they need to be soaked? They’re pretty soft, from what I’ve seen (we’re actually not allowed to eat them in Australia, so I’m making the camembert “for our cat”), but should I soak them for a couple of hours anyway?

    Our sharp cheddar is culturing right now! The “raw” mix tasted super delicious so I can’t wait to taste it in a few days. Kappa carrageenan is a little frustrating to get in Australia (contacted a company in the states who said it would cost $40 PLUS $50 for shipping! Crazy… Hopefully we can get it for just a little more than $40 in Australia), but we’ll get it soon enough. Thank you again for the amazing book. I’ll blog about it when I’ve made a few recipes!

    • James, that’s funny about the hemp! No, you don’t need to soak them.
      If carrageenan is so expensive, skip it,and add twice the amount of agar powder. You can also try this trick for the cheddar: make it as the recipe says through the culturing phase. When it is sufficiently sharp, boil 3 tablespoons of agar powder in 3/4 cup rejuvelac. You will need to cover the pot and cook it on low. It will take 5 – 10 minutes and be very viscous, but it should turn gelatiny and clear. Then mix in the sharp cheddar. If you have to add a little more rejuvelac to get the agar to melt, do so, but the idea is to use as little liquid as possible. This cheddar has a higher liquid content so it won’t age as gracefully as the regular cheddar with carrageenan, but you will get a sliceable cheese immediately, and it will be good for 3 – 4 weeks.

    • Isn’t it just. Miyoko’s Camembert Facial Scrub is currently culturing 😛

      We’re just sorting out the carageenan through a friend, so hopefully it will be here soon and then we can have melty cheeses!

      I read this a little too late and just followed the instructions from the book; I think I may have overcooked it as it started to sweat oil. But it does taste good (and unlike anything vegan I’ve ever tasted! Wow), and I can’t wait to see what it’s like in a few weeks! Will try that next time so we have a sliceable cheese.

      On a different note: I looked at one of my rejuvelac jars today and noticed two things floating on top; they were about the size of a dime and mostly translucent. I pulled them out and they were like jelly, but I panicked the threw out the batch in case it was some sort of weird jelly mould thing! Now I realise that may have been a bit hasty, but I thought I should ask you: is that normal? Or was I right to chuck it?

    • Ooh, not sure what those dime-size floaties are! I’ve never had them. I’ll have to google it and get back to you to see if I find anything. Did anything fall into them? Were they starchy?

    • No, they felt like little jellies; was the strangest thing. It’d been sealed since I put them in the fridge. Very strange. I think I prefer the brown rice rejuvelac!

  8. Dear Miyoko,

    I’m TREMENDOUSLY excited to begin experimenting with your cookbook, which I have just ordered! I have just one question for you: I’ve been reading about carrageenan online since I was not really familiar with this ingredient. It seems that there are some concerns about it possibly acting as a carcinogen, among other things, according to studies done with laboratory animals. From what I can tell, the amount that would have to be ingested would be quite large and over a span of time, but I’m wondering if you have any thoughts about this? I’m guessing/hoping that you find the use of carrageenan consistent with your philosophy of healthy/holistic nutrition?

    Many, many thanks,
    Gabriela

    • Gabriela, the concern with carrageenan (I had the same concern once, too) resulted from studies done with a degraded form. Nothing controversial has come from food-grade, non-degraded carrageenan.

  9. Thank you, Miyoko! This is great news!

    All my best, and congrats on your wonderful, wonderful work,
    Gabriela

  10. I made the Fermented Tofu and found the Miso taste not so appealing. Knowing that Miso and Tahini are a good combination, I made a mixture of about half and half tofu cheese and tahini. The result was quite tasty with a nice smooth texture.

    • What kind of miso did you use? You have to use a mild one. When diluted with the wine and mirin, the miso flavor should not be pronounced. A strong miso will affect flavor, however.

    • I hope I didn’t sound too negative. My main point was that I found a delicious new way to serve the tofu cheese. The plain tofu cheese wasn’t inedible, just better with the tahini.

      The miso I used was the light or “one year” South River Miso, tan in color. One variation is that I didn’t have mirin so I substituted sake and a little sugar since I read that mirin is sweeter. I’ll try another batch later this year. And I can’t wait til my garage cools down enough to make the aged cheeses. Great book!

  11. Miyoko,
    Your book is amazing! Lying in bed at night I have grand dreams of being a master cheese crafter, with a cheese cave full of thousands of cheeses eaten by people all over the world. In the meantime… Have you tried/considered dipping the cheeses in cheese wax for aging? Also, I purchased a wine fridge awhile back for the purpose of again cheese but kind of felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and panicked at the first sight of mold. Should I age them there and just wipe them and turn them everyday? Do you think it would cause cross contamination if I had different kinds of cheeses in there together?
    Thanks!

    • I wish I had a wine fridge! I also bought wax, but truth be told, I haven’t done that yet. Regarding aging the cheeses, if you read the chapter on air-dried cheese, you’ll see that I use salt or a salt brine to retard mold. I’ve found recently that dipping them in wine first works even better. I’ve not had any mold issues with wines dipped in a wine brine (with a little salt). I actually have a block of cheese on my counter that has been there for 2 months drying out ( a type of blue cheese – unfortunately, as the texture improves, the flavor of the “blue” has dissipated), and there is no mold whatsoever. By all means, you should experiment. Most of the feedback I have gotten from people is that they can’t wait 3 days to eat their cheeses. If you can be that patient, great! Maybe we should go into the cheesemaking business together…

    • You would be the first person I’d call!

    • count me in! i have experimented with wax and a basic cashew cheese and had good results – kept the air out and made the flavor more complex. i’m going to give it a try with Miyoko’s much more flavorful cheddar!

      beware, the wax is a messy process!

  12. I was wondering if there is anything that could be used in place of the rejuvelac. I would like to try some of your hard cheese recipes right away to test what I like the best. I went to the Whole Foods in my town they do not carry it. I like your book so much that I just reviewed it on Amazon. I think you did a stellar job on the book and Thank You so much for sharing your knowledge with us!

    • You can use non-dairy yogurt or a powdered probiotic. Please note that the probiotic powders are sometimes cultured in dairy and are not vegan. They are also expensive. I have also spent $20 on little bottles and found some of them don’t work (they seem to have expired). Sometimes, I’ll use a combination of rejuvelac and yogurt to achieve a more complex flavor. The book has a recipe for rejuvelac and you can make it in your own home.

  13. Thanks so much for the info! I just wanted to start something right away and not have to wait the extra days for the home made rejuvelac to be ready. Thanks again!

  14. Miyoko, I got your book yesterday and am very excited to get started. What a great book! First batch of cashews is soaking as we speak (I always have raw cashews in the house, have a great source nearby. I also have a question about possible replacement of rejuvelac. I bought some non-dairy acidophilus some time ago and have used it a couple of times to culture non-dairy milk and it seems to work just fine. Would this be an option in the cheese making? I am wondering whether you have experimented with this. Thanks!

    • Yes, many people use probiotic powder to make cheese. I opted not to for several reasons: 1) I wanted a starter that would be universally available (anyone can make rejuvelac anywhere in the world and very cheaply), 2) probiotic powders are expensive, and I am already asking people to get carrageenan, etc. , 3)often they are not vegan, and lastly, sometimes they don’t work (in other words, after spending $20, you find that they aren’t alive anymore). I have had mixed results with them, and sometimes end up wasting nuts. I also find that rejuvelac gives a more complex flavor. But by all means, go ahead and use them if you have it.

    • Miyoko, thanks, that is very helpful. I’ll try both and will post back with my first result. Now, I just have to pick which cheese to make first, hmmmh…
      Heidrun

  15. Miyoko,

    A quick question for you: Do you think cooked beans could be used instead of cashews? I’m thinking along the line of the “uncheeses” from Joanne Stepaniak’s books where she uses both nuts and beans for her recipes.

    Thanks!
    Gabriela

    • By all means go ahead and experiment. The purpose of this book is to replicate dairy cheeses as much as possible. I like bean-based “cheeses,” but I’ve not had one that I thought came close to cheese. I would characterize them more as dips or spreads. So it all depends on what you want. I don’t know if the low-fat nature of beans would culture as well, either, but you’re free to experiment. I’m guessing they won’t have the same richness or mouthfeel as cheese, but that may be just fine for you.

  16. Hi! I have a quick question-can I still use the recipes in this book if I can’t use gluten or soy? Thank you so much, I’m really longing fir a solution to my cheese craving!

    • Some of the recipes in the book use soy yogurt. You can substitute almond yogurt if you want in some of the recipes (not the ones where you have to drain the yogurt). Make sure it’s unsweetened. There’s no gluten in any of the recipes, unless you use rejuvelac made from wheat berries. If you make your rejuvelac from brown rice or quiona, you won’t have a problem. Good luck!

  17. Thank you so much for your quick answer! Just to clarify: Only a few recipes (the minority) use soy, and those have soy-free options? Would using almond yogurt/coconut yogurt instead significantly change the texture (stretchiness, hardness, etc.)? Thank you so much!

    • Sunflower, I haven’t found any coconut yogurt out there that doesn’t have sugar in it. Sugar+cheese=not so good. I’ve never made my own coconut yogurt – perhaps you could do that without sugar and try it in the cheeses. Basically, you need a cultured milk of some sort that has a tang to it. The stretchiness comes from the tapioca, so that wouldn’t be affected.

  18. I’m going through the VegNews recipes now – thank you! I’ve made my own spreadable cashew cheese for years, but I haven’t tried any cultured cheese until now. Currently culturing the chevre – and I can tell it’s going to be fantastic! A question about the cashews, though – in order to get my soaked cashews to blend smoothly enough, I had to triple the amount of rejuvelac. I then put the cheese in cheesecloth in a strainer set over a bowl so the excess liquid would strain out. However, when I use cashews for other recipes, I always grind them dry in my Magic Bullet. Would that work for your recipes too, or is there another reason they have to be soaked? Thanks for your help – and your recipes!

  19. Thanks, I only wish I read about the mozz balls not getting hard enough before I tried making them!!! Time for take 2!
    angela

  20. So far my favorite are the meltable cheeses. I have made the muenster a number of times and 2 times it came out perfectly and 1 time it was too soft. I was wondering if you by chance have ever taken the temperature of the mixture when it is “just right” by the way it looks. Thanks in advance!

  21. Hello! I just purchased this carrageenan powder: http://www.znaturalfoods.com/Irish-Moss-Powder-1-lb I read your post on buying kappa, not iota. Is there a way to tell if this is the correct type? Thanks 🙂

    • Sorry for the late reply — somehow missed some of the comments. You would have to ask the supplier, but Irish Moss Powder should work, although it will affect flavor and smell slightly.

  22. I am going to ask my father to bring your book when he comes to visit next month. I am so excited about the prospect of making my own cheeses because when I manage to find vegan cheese, it is 2 to 3 times what it costs in the US and have traveled way too far. I would like to also order the ingredients that I might not be able to find here in Qatar and ask him to bring those. I can get cashews and most nuts, no problem. Could you share or point me in the direction of a shopping list of items I’ll need to make the recipes in the book.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I make fermented vegetables on a regular basis (using a salt broth). I used some of the broth to ferment my cheese. It worked very well! I mention this just in case people are looking for alternatives to rejuvelac. Of course, if you are going to do this, you should probably reduce the added salt a little bit. Thanks for all your efforts. Thus far I have made only sharp chedder but it’s superb!

  24. Anonymous says:

    * for the wine technique for aged cheese, just letting you know that not all wines are vegan!

  25. Hi Miyoko,

    Sorry to drag you back to this post, but I had a couple of questions.

    I’ve noticed that when cheeses have to be put in the stove top, they often “break”, ie the oil separates from the cheese and, when I pour it into the mold, the cheese is just sitting in a pool of oil. Does that mean I’ve over-cooked it, or is that normal? It also happened the other day when I made the Brie; the coconut oil blended in then suddenly broke. I put it in the fridge to cool down a bit then re-blended it, and it seemed to work (and it’s absolutely incredible: an omni friend of ours thought it was amazing too!)

    It happened before with the mozzarella and today with the Monterey; I kept cooking the Monterey as I waited until the starch taste had gone. Maybe I waited too long?

    I’ve really enjoyed this book. There have been some frustrating moments, but it’s been such fun learning all the techniques. So far, I think the Brie and Camembert are the best: absolutely amazing on top of a massage kale salad!

    Thanks for the book. Going to have the monterey on pizza tonight!

    Thanks,
    James

    • Yes, oil separation means it was cooked too long. I know, it’s a fine line. Cook it until it glistens on the surface, then turn it off. When it’s shiny, it means the starch has cooked out.

    • Miyoko, I’ve yet to get your book, but out of curiosity, have you ever experimented using lecithin as an emulsifier (to prevent the oils from separating). Some companies have information on amounts to use available on-line with their product information (dependent on the type of lecithin and what it’s being used for). Just a thought; and when I’ve got your book I may give it a try if I find I’m having similar problems. Peace!

  26. Jim, I’ve used lecithin for a variety of applications when I need emulsification to occur. For these cheeses, I’ve never had the separation issue. It does not seem to be a major issue for most people, either, and usually this happens only if the cheese is cooked too long. I don’t know if lecithin would help prevent separation when overcooked. It might; but then, it works just as well not to overcook it. It might be worth experimenting with if someone has that problem consistently. On the other hand, overcooking changes the texture of the cheese as well, so it’s probably better to learn the technique.

  27. Hi There, I was wondering…when you are making the mozzarella from Vegnews do you leave the yogurt out while draining it or refrigerate? Thanks!

  28. TIP: Canola Oil – get the high-heat varitey!

    I may have just figured out something which might help others. I made the meltable recipes several times and they worked perfectly. Then suddenly they weren’t working. During the cooking process, the oil would separate and the texture would be totally wrong. I sort of fixed it by re-blending it, but it wasn’t quite the same. I realized I had run out of oil at some point and when I bought a new bottle, I got a medium-heat canola oil. I had a feeling that during the first few times I made it, I may have had high heat – so I got a bottle of that again, and now it works perfectly!

    Also – thanks for these wonderful recipes. I have made 14 different recipes, many more than once! It’s totally revolutionized vegan cheese for me!

  29. Hi Miyoko,
    I tried making the meltable mozzarella and couldn’t get it to form very good balls. At first I cooked it until it looked gooey, shiny, etc. the first ball I put in ice never really firmed up and was just kind of slimy. I tried cooking the rest a little bit longer and those balls got firmer than the first, but didn’t stay in smooth balls, they kind of clumped up a little bit. What do you think went wrong? Did I just barely miss the right cooking phase? Thanks so much!

    • Jessica,

      I need to know first if you used kappa carrageenan.

      • Yes! Kappa, tapioca flour, and the optional xanthan. Also, just made the Brie and when I processed it seemed combined and smooth, but quickly kept separating. Not completely, but it was a little coagulated looking I guess? I eventually just poured it into the mold when more blending didn’t seem to help. I melted the refined coconut oil completely, if that matters, though I let it cool so it wasn’t HOT when combined with the basic cashew cheese and other ingredients.

  30. Hi Miyoko,

    I’ve been excitedly working my way through your book since Christmas and have had some very tasty results! I’m planning on giving the buffalo mozzarella a go next, but having just read that you think you’ve improved on your original recipe I’d like to give that one a go first. I can’t find it on Vegnews though, do you have a link to it?

    Thanks! Sarah.

  31. Thanks for your wonderful book, site, and recipes! We’ve been having a blast trying different cheeses as well as cheesy desserts (my husband was transported by the tiramisu). Our first batch of camembert is culturing merrily on the counter.

    I saw the hemp camembert variation – would hemp work as a substitute for cashews in other recipes as well?

    • The hemp seeds are pretty strong in flavor, so they can be a bit overpowering as a substitute for cashews. They are better as an addition to a cheese in small quantities.

  32. I am not vegan but i have found out recently that I have celiac (gluten intolerance), and since omitting gluten from my diet, I have realized that dairy just doesn’t like me, but I miss cheese soooo much! I am just starting to make the rejuvilac and yogurt and planning which “cheese” to make first. I just want to say thank you for these recipes. I am very excited to jump right in and make some cheese;)

  33. Hi there!

    I was very excited when I found your book since my doctor told me I can no longer eat dairy and I LOVE cheese! However I also have a very severe nut allergy. I know there are some recipes in your book that don’t use cashews (yogurt based) but I was wondering if I could use hemp seeds or some other sort of seeds in all of the recipes. I know you mentioned it could be used in the Camembert recipe but could I use hempseeds for the other cheeses like cheddar or mozzarella? I’m willing to experiment a bit but the ingredients are kind of expensive at times so I would appreciate any advice ahead of time. Thank you!!

    • Hi, Brigitte. Cashews are predominantly used because of their soft texture and flavor neutrality. Most other nuts lend a far more distinct flavor to the cheeses, so while you can make nut cheese using all sorts of nuts, they won’t necessarily come out tasting the same. You can try hemp seeds, but it could turn out green and oily! The yogurt-based cheeses can work without nuts.

  34. When I was looking for carrageenan online to purchase, I saw several reports about it’s dangers. These stories claim that it causes bowel inflammation and cancer and should be removed from all food products because of this. Do you have any thoughts or information about this?

    • I address this on my blog. The reports of danger have been disputed by other scientists. There’s also carrageenan in MANY commercial foods, so if you want to avoid it, you should read every label, or you are probably consuming it. The FDA says it’s safe, and has disputed the studies submitted by the single researcher, Dr. Tobacman, as being unfounded. So there are two sides of the story, and I will leave it up to you to decide.

  35. Hi

    I was told, that arrowroot can replace agar.
    So I did, in the making of vegan fresh mozzarella…. They wont harden. Can i save the cheese???

    Thank you
    Lærke

    • Hmm… I wonder who told you that. I have not written that anywhere, nor have told anyone that. Arrowroot would definitely not work! I’m sorry you were told that. You can still use the cheese to make a spread — try adding flavorings such as olives, garlic, parsley, herbs, etc. It’s never so lost that you have to toss! Good luck.

  36. Miyoko,
    It was good to see you at the Seattle 2015 VegFest and purchase your Vegan Cheese book!
    I have made a number of the recipes and have read a number of the comments others have made about their experiences and will now share mine in hopes that my thoughts will help others.
    1. Read ALL the information in the book BEFORE trying any of the recipes.
    2. I made the Rejuvelac with ½ oat groats and ½ red winter wheat berries, then used the same berries again—ending up with over 4 quarts. What I didn’t use, I drank. The berries sprouted in 24 hours, but I went on to 48 hours before putting the water in the glass jars and into the frig. I used boiled and cooled tap water instead of ‘filtered’, as my tap water is good. Actually, the 2nd batch of water had a nicer taste!
    3. Remember: Don’t use iodinated salt! I did not, but can guess it causes problems. Also, the cheeses reacted with my drying rack, so I’ll have to find one that is non-reactive. I used a wire whisk and/or a wooden spoon.
    I did have to cook some of the cheeses longer than indicated. I used Kitchen Alchemy kappa Carrageenan purchased thru Amazon. I can see how some cooks might not get the results they want, but, having worked in the kitchen for years, I had no problems with any of the recipes.
    4. I have found that nutritional yeast flakes can have a mild or more robust flavor. Anything with nutritional yeast flakes will have that flavor, so I used less. Actually, the recipes with the flakes were those also using the rejuvelac, so I probably won’t make those recipes again as I am not a big fan of the flake taste. I tried the Sharp Cheddar (Page 14) but the yeast flavor was too strong for me.
    5. Basic Cashew cheese (page 7). Good.
    6. Cashew Cream Cheese (page 20) –Very Good!! I will use this many times in years to come! I did use this to make your Lox and Cream cheese recipe. It’s very good, but my friends aren’t used to the smoked Lox taste.
    7. Basic Yogurt Cheese. I have made lots of Cashew Yogurt (page 56). I will have to keep the yogurt culture going as there is NO place to purchase plain, unsweetened nondairy yogurt within 100 miles of my place. I found some a couple of months ago, and will keep it going. Notes: for my first batch I used regular soy milk, no vanilla. It was a bit sweet and didn’t set up well. Still good. Thereafter I have used shelf ‘WestSoy organic unsweetened’. I used my outside vehicle as the ‘warm place’ for culture and it set up in about 4 hours. One batch didn’t set up well initially, but did a bit better when chilled. A kitchen cooking thermometer is great to have!
    8. Air-dried Gouda. I sampled it frequently and it was good at every step! The oil can make it a bit too oily, but was good. While cooking it in step two, all of a sudden it pulled away from the pan like my Bosch bread does when there is just the right amount of flour –-I knew it was at the end point. I cooked it longer than 3-5 minutes –maybe 10. Good!
    Air-Cried Camembert (page 38) Good!
    9. Again, because I don’t care much for nutritional yeast flake taste, I didn’t do much with the recipes in Chapter 2.
    10. Meltable Muenster (page 41). I used only 2 tsp flakes. Good!
    11. Meltable Monterey Jack (page 42). I skipped step 2. It never pulled away from the sides. I cooked it about 15 minutes & quit. Good!
    12. Meltable Cheddar (page 43). I used only 3 TBS flakes and skipped step 2. I did not use the xanthan gum. Good!
    ***13. Smoked Provolone (page 51)*** The first time I made this, I accidentally used ½ cup canola oil and ½ cup pine nuts. I used ½ the amount of flakes. I don’t like a strong smoke flavor, so I used only ¼ tsp. I had to cook it on medium to low for 12-15 minutes.
    The 2nd time I made it, I doubled the recipe as it is in the book except only ½ the amount of flakes. But, I DOUBLED the amount of liquid smoke! It didn’t set up very good, but I used some of it anyway. Very good! I decided 2 days later to dump the remainder in a pan and re-cook it. I cooked it this time for 12-15 minutes. I knew it was done when a small amount of cooled cheese looked a bit like ‘plastic’ on the wooden spoon. It is AWESOME!!**** I WILL be making this many times again –and plan to use it for Fondue.
    14. I have used tofu in MANY recipes through the years, so will do the tofu recipes later.
    15. I couldn’t find ANY RAW cashews in the local stores. I purchased several pounds when I did find some at a far-off location. I must go now and make LOTS of Cashew Cheese as I plan to make the cheesecakes, carrot cake, and raspberry mousse.
    Questions for Miyoko: 1) Does FIRM Cashew cream cheese work better for cheesecakes than the regular recipe for Cashew Cream Cheese? 2) Where can I purchase a well-constructed cheese bag? Mine started to come apart at the seams the first time I used it. 3) If you come up with anything for flavor other than nutritional yeast flakes, let me know!

  37. I just got the book a few weeks ago and I totally love it! Here are my experiences so far:

    1) Mozzarella (the improved version from the homepage): Great texture and taste! However, you should not expect it to be indistinguishable from dairy mozzarella.
    2) Brie (the one from chapter 1): Delicious! It does not really resemble the texture of dairy Brie but it is quite creamy and the taste is pretty close to dairy Brie.
    3) Air-dried gouda: The taste is really good but I don’t like the texture. It is sliceably but it does not remind me at all of the texture of dairy gouda. I am now using it for cheese sauce.
    4) Sharp cheddar (the one from chapter 1): Just like with the gouda, the taste is really good but I don’t like the texture. However, it has only been in the fridge for two weeks now, so maybe the texture will still improve.
    5) Meltable Monterey Jack: I do not really like it when eaten cold but I totally love it for grilled cheese and for quesadillas. It melts perfectly and tastes just like dairy cheese.
    6) Smoked provolone: Really great! I totally love the taste, and it is sliceable and has a good texture. It was already good right after making it but it was still a little bit too soft for me. I then air dried it for a few days, and now it is perfect.

    As a general remark, I have not had problems with any of the recipes so far. I have noted that I have to cook all the cheeses considerably longer than stated in the recipe but I do not find it difficult to know when they are ready as the recipes nicely describe the texture and/or look. As it is really cold in my department and I do not want to turn the heat on just for making cheeses, I am using a yoghurt machine which can be regulated down to about 77° for culturing the cheeses. Air-drying works well in my kitchen at the moment (about 63°) but I still have to figure out how to do it in summer.

    I am really happy that I got the book! Like always, I like some recipes better than others (but that is certainly a matter of personal taste!) but I have only tried out six of the cheeses and already found four that totally satisfy my cravings for cheese. Some of the cheeses even conviced my omnivore husband (especially the brie, the monterey jack and the smoked provolone). Besides, I am really having fun learning how to make vegan cheeses. I am looking forward to trying out more recipes in the next weeks! Thank you for the great book!