Vegan cheese was a bit of a mystery to me so I went to a workshop in Brighton to learn more from Paula from Titbits Catering.
OK, I know some of you get annoyed when vegans call cheese replacements ‘cheese’ but some dairy cheeses on the market are questionable (I’m looking at you cheese strings) so I’m going to roll with it… Making vegan cheese:
My best efforts to date have been mixing nutritional yeast with leftover nut pulp to make a pâté which is very tasty but it’s not comparable to tastes from the past. What appealed to me on this workshop was to understand what the difference in taste and textures were when cheese was baked, fermented or raw.
The workshop was at Paula’s lovely home in Brighton. There were 3 of us but I think it might have been a bit cramped if there were more. It was more of a demo than a hands-on session but that meant we had lots of time to ask lots of questions and with Paula being able to do it quickly she got through a lot of cheeses.
The first tw0 were set cheeses: smoked coconut cheese and cashew mozzarella. These both used nutritional yeast for cheesiness and had added thickening agents: agar agar powder, tapioca starch or xanthan gum. These were heated in a pan and poured into a mould. These made sliceable cheeses, similar to a brie consistency.
We made a raw almond and cashew cheese flavoured with garlic and lemon juice. These were baked with added toppings of olive tapenade, paprika and herbs. The baking gave a nice crust for the cheese and a stronger flavour. These were a more crumbly but spreadable texture than the set cheeses.
We also made 2 different types of fermented cheese: cashew and macadamia Feta
The cashew cheese fermented with rejuvelac (the liquid left over from sprouting grains) was good but not as good as the actual rejuvelac. I wasn’t mad about the cheese but left over sprouted quinoa water is delicious! It’s oddly refreshing, it has coconut water vibes. It was confusing to pin down why but I liked it a lot. I’m going to try making my own why don’t you make it and tell me why it tastes so good! 😀
The fermented macadamia feta was made using an added vegan probiotic and given time to ferment. This really was my favourite but one I’ll save that for a special occasion as this has pricey ingredients. Macadamias are the worlds most expensive nut. Why? They are high in demand owing to their nutritional profile, macadamia trees take 7-10 years to mature and when the nuts are finally harvested they are a ridiculously hard nut to crack… open.
At the end of the class, we sat down to have a cheese feast and tried some lovely homemade Kombucha and Kefir. Unfortunately, I had to rush off (I enrolled at college in the afternoon!) but I bagged some of the cheese to have with crackers on the train. I’m going to experiment with some of the recipes and see how they go making them at home.
Find out when the next workshop is here. If there are none available when you look Paula also does cookery classes and pop-ups which may be of interest if you live in the Brighton area.