Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Ⓥ Artisan Vegan Cheese: Following Miyoko Schinner's Air-Dried Cheddar Recipe

I've invested in a new vegan cheese book called "Artisan Vegan Cheese" by Miyoko Schinner and I thought I would blog my voyage into the land of vegan cheese production.

To begin with I am at a disadvantage as I am living in a house with no heating, and vegan cheese needs warmth to ferment.  So I've invested in a brew belt to keep my creation warm.  Not ideal, but it seems to do the trick.

First I have to track my ingredients down.

Quinoa - To make the rejuvelac - easy to find in any wholefood shop.
Yogurt  - I need to start making my own but this time around I've bought some Sojasun.
Cashews - Easy to find, I used organic ones.
Nutritional yeast flakes - I used B12 version that I already had in.
Brown miso - Easy to find in any wholefood shop.
Canola (rapeseed) oil - Bit tricky finding this until I found out that it was rapeseed oil.
Tapioca flour - I eventually found this in an international food store. I bought tapioca starch, I checked on line and it seems they are one and the same.
Agar agar powder - I gave up tracking this down locally and ordered it through Ebay.

The vegan cheese I have selected to make is called "Air-Dried Cheddar"

It has quite a few stages to its production, but I'm getting ahead of myself, first I need to make my rejuvelac.

Rejuvelac is basically the fermented juice from sprouted seeds, in my case I used quinoa.  I need to put a cup of quinoa in a jar with a small amount of water in a warm place, that's were my brew belt came into play.  For three days I need to keep the seeds wet and warm and change the water twice a day rinsing them before I put them back.  They will sprout and then I need to add a measured amount of spring water and wait again for two days.  At the end of this time if the Vegan Gods are smiling down on me, rejuvelac will be born.  This makes about a litre of fluid, it can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 weeks so it can last for several batches of vegan cheese.


So I have my rejuvelac and my ingredients and I'm now ready to start on my vegan cheese.

First stage is to soak the cashews from 3 to 8 hours.

Second stage is the blend - cashews, rejuvelac, yogurt, yeast flakes, miso, oil, salt.  I then have to keep this mixture nice and warm for 48 hours.  The photo below is after about 4 hours, it's already fermenting and smells great.

Two long days later and I'm ready to go to the third stage, adding the agar agar and the tapioca flour (or starch).

After whisking in the agar and the tapioca I use a wooden spoon (don't ask me why this is important, I'm just following instructions) to stir the mixture over a moderate heat for several minutes.  The sauce then becomes elastic and glossy.

I then transfer it to a glass bowl where I press it in and smooth off the top, it very quickly becomes a rubbery solid form.  You really need to act quickly here before it cools and goes rubbery, press it in firmly into your mould.  With retrospect I would possibly recommend that you use maybe three moulds so that you can make three smaller vegan cheeses instead of one big one.  Then you could freeze two and keep one in your fridge.

At this stage I had the opportunity to sample the vegan cheese from the remnants in the pan.
I am rubbish at describing how food tastes, so all I can say is that it tasted very good.

I then allow it to cool completely before covering it and refrigerate it for at least four hours.  Then I am ready for stage four.  I need to take the vegan cheese out of the bowl and then after washing my hands, sprinkle on to my wet hands some salt.  I then pat my salty hands all over the cheese.

Then its a case of waiting another four days.  The vegan cheese is placed on a cooling rack and left in a room with good air flow to do its thing.  If you did decide to make multiple smaller cheeses, you might not need to leave them for four days, maybe just three days, just taste them and see what you think.  Or give Miyoko a ring.

It's the end of the fourth day.  The vegan cheese has completed its voyage and has come to rest on my kitchen work top.  Gramondo said it tasted like a strong soft cheese, not too cheesy.  He liked it.  I liked it.  It was worth the effort.  It was easy to make.  Give it a go.

I've ordered some liquid smoke from America so I will be making "Smoked provolone" next from the same book.

The vegan cheese I've made above can kept for one month wrapped up in the fridge or four months in the freezer.  Not sure if mine will last that long with Gramondo around.  Thanks Miyoko!!

Artisan Vegan Cheese

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