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The majority of vegan cheeses I had sampled were more like spreads, requiring a stretch of the imagination to think of them as cheese. But a few were stellar, notably the raw cheeses made by Roxanne Klein at her all-too-ephemeral restaurant, Roxannes. Caf Gratitude, a chain of vegan restaurants in the Bay Area, also had some winners on their menu. Still, if they were raw, they didnt melt.

There was also, of course, the ever-increasing number of commercially available vegan cheeses that melted to a degree, which. What to do? The answer was clear. It was time to make good on my promise. With a vegetarian fundraiser at my house coming up, I decided to spend a few weeks experimenting with nut-based cheeses.

My goal was to put together a platter of vegan cheeses as the centerpiece of the buffet. I figured that the vegan and vegetarian community would be supportive of any attempt at cheese, making this a safe venue in which to embark on my venture. I presented Brie, flavored chvre,. Gruyre, and a few other cheeses. And then I retreated to the kitchen to see how people reacted.

Well, they raved. Afterward I even heard from people who hadnt been there but had found out about the cheeses through the grapevine. That was all great feedback, but hey, it was still a vegan crowd. So I kept at it, coming up with more varieties, and I started serving them to my omnivorous friends, including at a big holiday party. Their reactions were the same as those from the vegans and vegetarians, only the omnivores often told me that they couldnt tell the difference between my cheeses and the real stuff. This was exciting, and I threw myself headlong into my cheese.

My kitchen became a laboratory, with cheeses lying around everywhere as I attempted to age them while fending off mold.

People would look quizzically at the rounds strewn around the kitchen and wonder what they were. From the initial nut-based cheeses to varieties made from yogurt to the day I finally found a way to make a vegan cheese that actually melted, I had a couple of cheeses in the works at all times and would prod anyone who walked into the house into trying some. Some of the cheeses were, of course, less delectable, and a few ended up in my compost pile, but many met with rave reviews.

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It has now been about a year since my. But the journey has only just begun. As the deadline for this book fast approaches, I continue to dream up new ways to make cheeses and another lightbulb turns onand then I have to remind myself that now is the time for me to buckle down and finish writing this book rather than puttering around the kitchen.

So for the time being, I dont have as many cheeses sitting on my counters, but Ill be back in my cheese laboratory soon enough, developing more recipes to add to the next edition of this book. In the meantime, I hope youll find these cheeses fun and compelling enough to serve not only to vegans but to. Acknowledgments Over the years, many people encouraged me to delve into the subject of homemade vegan cheese, and to all of them I owe gratitude for their faith in me. Once I started the process, however, there is one young person to whom I am indebtedas unfair as this may seem for providing the utterly simple insight about vegan cheeses in general.

They all taste somewhat tangy, as if they have lemon juice in them. Dairy cheese isnt tangyits sharp. This person is my. She put me on track to pursue how to culture the cheese, not just add tangy flavorings to it. To you, Cammy, I dedicate this book!

Of course, I cannot neglect to thank my other family members who endured kitchen counters covered with cheese experiments, and night after night of cheesy dishes that made them wish for just a simple salad. My husband, Michael, who encouraged me and honestly critiqued each cheese I created; my oldest daughter, Sera, who hated vegan cheeses and suffered through my experiments but eventually grew to like them and who now asks for vegan grilled cheese sandwiches ; and my son,.

Aki, who upon returning home from college refused to believe that my SunDried Tomato and Garlic Cream Cheese was really made from cashewsto all of them, I am grateful. Beyond my family were my friendsvegan, nonvegan, nonvegetarianwho willingly tasted and critiqued, but mostly raved, about my creations. Had it not been for their encouragement, I dont know if I would have believed in myself enough to move ahead. In particular, I would like to thank Maggie, a writer herself, who spent countless hours with me in conversation about the book, its style, and the angle of presentation.

While I pride myself in providing recipes that are for the most part. In this book, I want to give credit for the easy Almond Milk recipe page 54 to Chef AJ, who demonstrated the shortcut method in one of her fun videos. When it came time to send the manuscript to the publisher, I truly felt it was in pretty good shape. But reality hit as soon as my editor, Jo Stepaniak, of cookbook fame herself, sent back some pages to me completely marked up. There were grueling weeks ahead, with rewriting and proofreading my book again and again, and still, as we approach the end of this process, Jo.

This is why we shouldnt try to proofread and edit completely on our owna good pair of eyes belonging to a professional editor is so important! So thank you, Jo, for what felt like beatings and lashings but were ever so necessary. Finally, Id like to thank Bob and Cynthia at Book Publishing Company, who believed in me enough to give me the green light on my first book in over a decade. And to you, dear reader, thank you! Introduction If you like instant gratification, youve picked up the wrong book. My intention in saying that isnt to scare you away, but to inform you that making the cheeses in this book will require your patience and lovenot as much patience as may be required for making a dairy cheese, which often takes months, but enough that youll usually have to wait a few days or more to taste your creations.

Rest assured, however, that the amount of work involved in making each cheese. Your patience will be rewarded. After all, as they say, wine, cheeseand even some of usimprove with age. Cultured Flavor It was my youngest daughter who remarked, when eating one of my earlier attempts at vegan cheese, that it was mo r e tangy than sharp. That got me thinking about the difference between vegan cheeses and dairy cheese. What transforms simple milk into cheese is a culturing process that begins with various bacteria and enzymes, which coagulate the proteins in the milk,.

New Artisan Vegan Cheese Launches at Select Whole Foods

The cheese is then aged for a few days to many months, and during that time it develops its distinctive character and flavor. Depending on the type of enzymes and bacteria used, as well as certain molds for bloomy-rind and blueveined cheeses, the final product takes on different characteristics. With vegan cheeses, the process is a little different. The proteins in soy milk and nut milks react differently to culturing agents and dont tend to coagulate in such a way that curds separate out, and therefore must be processed and aged using somewhat different methods.

Therefore, most vegan cheeses on the market today arent. As my daughters remark indicated, this often results in more of a tanginess than a sharpness. What makes the cheeses in this book different is that they gain their cheeselike qualities from culturing and varying degrees of aging, rather than the addition of acidic ingredients. This helps create not only sharpness but also more flavor, depth, and umamithat extremely satisfying savory taste designated as the fifth basic flavor.

Achieving this complexity of flavor is something you simply cannot rushyou must let the. Of course, you will have to monitor it, as ambient temperature, humidity, and other conditions can affect how quickly cheeses culture, age, or spoil. But the reward for your patience and love are fabulous cheeses that can be used just like their dairy counterparts in myriad culinary applications.

With these cheeses, you will be able to create vegan versions of some of your favorite recipes that incorporate cheese something you may have thought impossible. Once you make these cheeses, you can store them in your refrigerator and in most cases in your freezer so youll have them on hand whenever you want to. If youre a longtime vegan and have forgotten how to cook with cheese, chapters 7 through 9 offer delectable appetizers, entres, and desserts made with the recipes for cheeses and other dairy alternatives in the earlier chapters of this book.

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Even if you still balk at making anything that takes more than a few minutes, youre still in luck. Chapter 4 is devoted to recipes for almost-instant cheeses that are pretty tasty as well.

This section will give you an idea of what to expect and what tools and ingredients youll need in order for your cheese-making endeavors to be successful. First of all, youll need a culturing agent. For most of the cheeses in this book, that will be some form of probiotica substance that contains friendly bacteria that help turn the base ingredient into cheese, or at least contribute to the flavor.

While powdered probiotics can accomplish this, these products tend to be very expensive, and often they arent vegan. Their strength also differs from brand to brand, so Ive chosen not to use them in this book,. Instead, these cheeses are primarily cultured with rejuvelac or nondairy yogurt. Rejuvelac, a fermented beverage made from whole grains, contains a variety of friendly bacteria, including some that produce lactic acid, which contributes to sharpness.

It can easily be made at home using widely available whole grains, such as brown rice or rye, spelt, or wheat berries. Although you can probably buy rejuvelac at your local natural food store, I recommend that you make it as the first step on your journey into vegan cheeses.

Also note that storebought rejuvelac is generally made with sprouted wheat berries, so if you are.