As plant-based, dairy-free diets continue to expand in popularity for health and ethical reasons, cheese often becomes the "last hurdle."
Much of what passes for non-diary "cheese" lacks the quality and depth of authentic, cultured cheese. Yet for aspiring DIY plant-based cheesemakers, much of the knowledge of this new craft is scattered in isolated kitchens, and there's no real reliable guidance to what works, what doesn't, and why, when making real, cultured plant-based cheese. This book aims to change all that and bring this new craft into the kitchens of the world.
Written by a pioneering plant-based cheesemaker who draws deep from the well of experience, The Art of Plant-based Cheesemaking is a clear, highly practical guide that extends traditional cheesemaking methods into the realm of plant-based media as a substitute for dairy.
Understanding culturing and fermentation
Essential ingredients and equipment for crafting plant-based cheese
Plant and nut-based media and how to make them
How to create and train plant-based cultures
Delicious recipes for quick cheeses
Advanced recipes for cultured and aged cheeses
Resources for sourcing equipment and cultures.
Packed with step-by-step recipes, straightforward processes, and encouraging experimentation, this book makes plant-based cheesemaking accessible for beginners and serious foodies alike.
Simply everything you need to make delicious non-dairy cheese right at home.
There's something about cheese. For those who seek to pursue a plant-based lifestyle, it's often the last hurdle that stops them taking that final step of eschewing animal products completely. For those who cannot tolerate dairy products in their diet, it seems a gross injustice that such an ambrosial foodstuff be denied to them.
But what is it about cheese that makes it so irresistible? And is it possible to create a plant-based cheese that provides the flavour and texture that so many people crave?
Whilst working as an Executive Chef of a plant-based restaurant, Karen McAthy began experimenting with different cultures, different ageing and curing methods, and different combinations of nut, seed and legume ingredients in an attempt to find out.
She shares her findings in this book.
The book is split into six chapters with two appendices, as follows
1 Core Elements of Plant-Based Cheesemaking Terminology: “Cheese” versus “Cheeze”
More on Informal Classification
2 Equipment, Sanitization,and Food Safety Food Safety and Sanitization
Tools and Equipment
3 Making Quick Non-Cultured Cheeze Non-Cultured Soft Cheeze
Cultured Soft Cheeze
Semi-Soft Cheeze: Base Recipe
Firm/Hard Cheeze Base
Notes on Ingredients
4 Making and Using Plant-Based Cultures Rejuvelac
Kefir: Coconut, Cashew, Almond . . .
Probiotic Capsules, Miso,
Tempeh Culture, Sauerkraut Brine
5 Fresh Cultured Cheeses Almond Ricotta
Short-Aged and Semi-Soft Cheeses
Coconut Kefir and Macadamia
Garlic and Herb Cheese
6 Firm Cheeses and Cheese Aging Cashew and Coconut
Cashew and Coconut
Aging and Rind Curing Methods
Appendix 1: Resources Food Items
Equipment and Tools
Appendix 2: Quick Reference
Guide to Smell, Taste, and Texture
This is not a long book, just over a hundred pages. It is abundantly illustrated with full colour photographs and is a pleasure to handle and read. The presentation of ideas is logical and systematic, starting with a discussion of terminology and explaining the rationale behind the way it used in this book, progressing to a discussion on equipment and hygiene, then to a chapter on each of the main types of plant-based cheese with full instructions on everything you need to know to make and culture your own, with plenty of sample recipes of each type. The discussion of different types of cultures is invaluable, and full instructions are given for producing rejuvalac from grains so that it is possible to start experimenting with cultured cheese without having to buy in specialist cultures.
The emphasis seems to be on the use of high-end base ingredients, almost exclusively nuts, seeds and coconut, often enhanced with herbs, spices and fruit, to produce a product as sumptuous as possible.
Unfortunately I haven't yet had a chance to try out the recipes so I can't vouch for how successful the resulting cheeses are as replacements for dairy cheeses, but as a recipe and instruction book to enable the reader to produce their own plant-based cheese, this is the book to get. Personally I would have liked there to have been a wider range of ingredients covered and more emphasis on lower-cost or home-grown ingredients for those of us who cannot afford or have allergies to nuts.
So what have I learned by reading the book? First, that the aim of a plant-based cheese is very different to the aim of a dairy cheese, which is essentially to preserve surplus milk for later use. Plant-based (which essentially means vegan) cheese is designed to fill a culinary gap when dairy cheese is off the menu. From what I could make out, it doesn't keep very long, and probably far less time than the raw ingredients. Also the whole method of making it is completely different. Dairy cheese is made from milk which is coagulated, the whey drained off, and the solids cultured and aged. Plant based cheeses are generally made by grinding solid foodstuffs such as nuts or seeds into a thick paste which is flavoured, cultured and aged. No coagulation necessary.
I was also interested in the differences between processes such as surface ripened, washed rind, cave aged and cheddar, and cultures such as camembert and roqueforti.
I loved the experimental nature of the book - the recipes given are complete in themselves, but there is plenty of the background needed to inspire hands-on experimentation with the development and training of dairy-free cultures. I also liked the development of complexity of the cheeses as the book progressed, from simple non-cultured 'cheeze', which might well be all many people need to fill the cheese-void when dairy products are no longer an option, through ever more complex processes, mimicking those used to create different dairy cheeses, culminating in a recipe for cashew and coconut double-cultured “cheddar”.
How well do the resulting plant-based cheeses work as replacements for dairy cheese? I don't know. I guess the only way to find out is to either purchase samples from the author's website, Blue Heron Cheese, or buy the book and start working through the recipes until you find one that works for you.
I recently bought "The Non-Dairy Revolution Cookbook," another cheez book. I've made three of the recipes so far, including one with rejuvalac (which I've made before, but didn't like – it works well in cheese!) & enjoyed them all. I'll take a look at this one, too. Thank-you
I recieved the dailyish email that prompted me here with this quote:
This promo goes out to all of you who can't or don't eat dairy, but love cheese. Intrigued? Read on!
Um, yeah... , ahem... that would be me.
Since Birth I have not been able to consume dairy with any benefit. ...only detriment to my body, but NOT my tastebuds. I love the taste of cheese but alas, my guts don't. I may have to buy this book if I don't win it by making a post.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."-Margaret Mead "The only thing worse than being blind, is having sight but no vision."-Helen Keller