What’s the Buzz Around Vegan Cheese?

What is Vegan Cheese?

Vegan cheese is exactly what it sounds like: cheese that’s vegan-friendly. They’re fully animal-free, made from vegetable proteins like soy, nuts, and oils. Vegan cheeses can also be made from tapioca, agar, arrowroot, and peas. Though some vegan cheeses are made from minimally processed foods, some may include thickeners and starches like xanthan gum and carrageenan.

Tree Nut and Seed Vegan Cheeses

Most homemade vegan cheese is made from raw nuts and seeds as they’re the easiest variety to make, but they’re also available at grocery stores. Nuts and seeds are soaked in water to soften, then blended and fermented. Fun fact: the same types of bacteria used to make dairy cheese is used to make vegan cheese.

​Soy

Coconut

If you love coconut, then you would love coconut-based vegan cheese. Due to its high fat content, coconut yields a luscious, creamy vegan cheese. But because it can be so soft and fluid, it usually needs some sort of thickener like cornstarch, carrageenan, agar agar or tapioca starch to help make it closer to the texture of dairy cheese.

Aquafaba

Flour

Flour, because of its starchy nature, is used to make vegan cheese. Tapioca, potato, all-purpose, and arrowroot flours are some of the most popular ones used, and flour-based vegan cheeses are usually the saucier types, like queso or cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese. Of course, flour itself can’t be made into cheese; other ingredients, like cashews, soy milk, almond milk, beans, or coconut are often added to them. ​

Root Vegetables

This is likely the least popular ingredient for vegan cheeses, but some do use root vegetables as a base. Like flour, vegan cheese that’s made with root vegetables yields a soft, creamy, smooth consistency.

Does Vegan Cheese Taste Good?

​Contrary to popular belief, vegan cheese can taste good! But of course, just like anything else, not all products are made equally. Some of the classic vegan cheese brands that we know and have learned to dislike have come a long way, and they’ve developed delectable formulas for every cheese, from queso to ricotta. The non-dairy cheese that once tasted — to put it gently — less than appealing have had their revamped recipes, making them far more palatable.

How Do I Make Vegan Cheese?

Vegan cheese is much easier to make than you might think! Soft cheeses, in particular, are a cinch to make, and below are two of our favourite recipes: one for a velvety, saucy cheese sauce that’s perfect for nachos, and one that’s perfect for your next cheese board.

Vegan Cheese Sauce

From Love and Lemons

  1. Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water by about 1 inch. Add a few pinches of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until fork-tender, 8 to 12 minutes.
  2. Drain and transfer to a high-speed blender with the garlic, cashews, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, olive oil, and water. Blend until smooth.

Vegan Provolone

From The Hidden Veggies

  1. Prepare cheese molds by spraying a glass bowl or container with spray oil or rub any neutral-flavored oil on the molds to prevent sticking. (Recipe will make about 2 cups of cheese).
  2. Pour the can of coconut milk into a saucepan.
  3. Put 1/2 cup of hot water into the empty coconut milk can to melt all the remaining coconut milk and add the water to the pan.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients (2 tbsp agar agar, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp garlic powder) to the saucepan and stir with a whisk.
  5. Cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently until it boils.
  6. Turn down the heat until the cheese sauce is just barely boiling and stir constantly for 6 minutes until it is very smooth. (It must boil for 6 minutes to activate the agar agar and set correctly.)
  7. Immediately pour into the prepared cheese molds.
  8. Let it cool with the lid off for about 15 minutes at room temperature, then cover and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to firmly set.

Where Can I Buy Vegan Cheese?

Vegan cheese can be purchased at most major grocery stores these days, including Save-On-Foods, Safeway, Whole Foods, Superstore, No Frills, and Buy Low. Shops that specialize in plant-based foods will usually carry vegan cheeses as well. Nowadays, there are even stores that specialize in high quality vegan cheeses. Blue Heron Cheese is a great spot in the city that offers vegan cheeses perfectly for any cheese platter.

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