making cheese 2 – and a cheese toastie
Sometimes only a toasted cheese sandwich will hit the spot. I’ve been searching for a long time for a decent vegan cheese to make a toastie. The cheese needs to melt and stretch like dairy cheese to be satisfying and it needs to taste, well frankly, not disgusting. I don’t really like any of the commercially available ones, but I’ve found the answer is to make it.
I’ve been messing around with various soy milk block cheeses based on The Non Dairy Formulary. I recommend this book if you want to make vegan cheeses. Just don’t be afraid to experiment a bit.
The cheeses in the book that I have tried so far have not been quite cheesy enough for me, and a bit too solid and rubbery for my liking. This may be due to variations in the carageenan, I’m not certain. All I know is that after several failures I think I now have a successful cheese that I like.
What I learnt – one: do not use purchased soy milk with any other gums in it. I ignored this in my first few attempts and I was suitably punished with floppy cheese that wouldn’t really solidify properly. It actually says this in the instructions but I was being a smarty pants and thought it would be OK. So I made some soy milk and used that to make cheese. It works! I suspect you could also use the Aldi Organic soy milk since it has no additives, though I haven’t tried it.
What I learnt – two: not any carageenan will work. There are various types and they each have specific setting and melting characteristics. You need Kappa Carageenan. I got mine from The Melbourne Food Ingredient Depot. I use less than the recipe calls for so it isn’t quite so solid.
What I learnt – three: Taste. I don’t think the cheese tastes cheesy enough, so I added more savoury yeast and salt. I haven’t tried all the recipes and some have miso which would work well too. But for a savoury yeast only flavouring I think it needs more yeast and salt.
What I learnt – four: Do not use unrefined coconut oil, unless you like coconut flavoured cheese! I have also used less coconut oil than in the original recipe. This seems a bit less fatty and doesn’t seem to make a huge difference to the outcome.
This recipe is a hybrid between the Jack and Cheddar cheeses with some adjustments.
What I have ended up with is a block style cheese that slices, grates and melts satisfyingly. It isn’t dairy cheese as we know it, but it does make a pretty good substitute in a toasted cheese sandwich, and I think it tastes better than most vegan cheeses out there (except obviously Vegusto and Botanical but they are different beasts) and at a fraction of the price.
I used mine in a cheese, tomato and onion toasted sandwich. It also works well on a pizza, grilled on toast, or on a veggie pattie in a bun.
Here’s a smoked tofu and broccoli burger with some of the cheese melting on it.
I’m going to continue with my tinkering to perfect the flavour, but the texture of this is just how I like it.
- 1 and 1⁄3 cup plain soymilk with no additives at room temperature
- ½ cup organic refined coconut oil liquified (you can do this in the microwave, or put the jar into hot water)
- 1⁄4 cup tapioca flour
- 2 and ½ tsp kappa carrageenan
- 6 tsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 and ½ tsp sea salt
- 1⁄2 tsp onion powder
- You will need a container capable of holding 2 cups, not a glass one because there is a bit of banging involved. I use a small rectangular 1 litre container
- Pour the half cup of melted oil into a blender.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the blender.
- Process the contents until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring and scraping with a silicone spatula. Keep stirring and scraping as the mixture thickens. Stir vigorously until the mixture becomes very thick, smooth and glossy.
- Now quickly transfer the mix to a container but don't bother trying smooth it out too much, it will set before you can! Bang the container on bench to settle it.
- Let the cheese cool for 20 minutes.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or until completely chilled and firm.
- Turn the container over and bang it on the bench to remove the cheese.
- Store the cheese wrapped in a paper towel and sealed in a zip lock bag in the fridge.
- If you don't eat it quickly, you'll need to change the paper every few days.