The right ingredients for vegan cheese

You need few ingredients to make vegan cheese. Many of the ingredients listed here are optional. Cashews or almonds form the base for most of our recipes. Legumes are also suitable for making. In addition to the base mix of nuts or legumes, you will need starter cultures, water and salt.

Transglutaminase, agar-agar or tapioca are used to achieve the desired consistency. Spices, yeast flakes, apple cider vinegar or Miso provide a delicious flavor.

Turn your kitchen into a vegan cheese counter.

The basis

The key to vegan cheese is the right ratio of the three macronutrients protein, carbohydrates and fat. Nuts contain all three components in the right proportions. For great flavor and texture, it's important that you use the right nuts.

Cheese enjoyment from nuts. Without moo and baa.

Botanically speaking, nuts are closing fruits. This means that a fruit that is completely covered by a wall is a nut. This pericarp must consist of three layers that are fused together. We eat the seed of the fruit. Any fruit whose shell has fewer than three layers or which opens on its own is not a nut. This includes cashews, almonds, pecans, and still others. Nut fruits in the botanical sense include walnuts, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts. For the sake of simplicity, let's classify them together as nuts. Whether actually a nut in the botanical sense or just in name: Each fruit has a unique flavor that is versatile for vegan cheese.

We prefer to use cashews as an ingredient for vegan cheese. These are characterized by a neutral taste. With the addition of microbes and spices, it develops a delicious, cheesy flavor. Cashews are particularly suitable for cheese making. Compared to other nuts, they have the lowest amount of fiber and they produce a particularly creamy base. The quality of the nuts used is important for the result of the cheese. It's best to use organic, unsalted nuts. Cheap nuts often taste slightly musty, which will then be present in your cheese.

You can also use other nuts such as shelled almonds, macadamia nuts and Brazil nuts. If you use these varieties, the cheese will have a special flavor of its own and will not be as creamy. Because of the higher fiber content, you should use more water. To make nuts easier to process into a creamy mass, soak the nuts overnight.

Legumes are also suitable for making vegan cheese. We were able to experiment with white beans and get great results. Note that white beans have a higher protein content than cashews, the cheese will be a bit firmer.

Water

With living microorganisms, it is important to use only good water. Please do not use water that contains chlorine or other antimicrobial additives. In Germany, the quality of our tap water is usually very good. You can use it for the production of vegan cheese.

Vegan cheese cultures

Mesophilic bacterial culture

For the production of freshly fermented vegan cheese, such as cream cheese and ricotta, you use a mesophilic bacterial culture. Our mesophilic bacterial culture is composed of different bacterial species (St.thermophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. acidophilus, L. lactis, B. lactis). All these bacterial species are lactic acid bacteria and are able to break down sugar to lactic acid. The lactic acid formed lowers the pH and coagulates proteins, making your cheese firmer. The bacteria culture likes it best warm and anaerobic: between 20 and 45 °C and without oxygen, the microbes multiply best.

Penicillium candidum

P. candidum belongs to the genus Peniclillia (molds) and is responsible for the main taste and smell of white mold cheese. The mold strains used for cheese production (e.g. P. roqueforti and P. candidum) are specially selected cultivated forms that do not have any potential to pose a health risk (e.g. formation of mycotoxins). P. candidum is highly aerobic, which means that the mold requires oxygen to grow. The mold only grows on the surfaces of cheese. The perfect temperature for the growth of P. candidum is between 8 and 20 °C. The lower the temperature, the slower it grows and the milder the cheese.

Salt


Salt has an important framework for the fermentation process, so the quality is very important. Lactic acid bacteria and P. candidum are salt tolerant. They have an advantage over microorganisms that cannot survive in environments with a certain salt content. We recommend you use untreated salt without chemical additives or iodine. What you choose, sea salt or rock salt, is up to you.


Little helpers for a great consistency


Transglutaminase

For your vegan cheese to gain firmness, you need a helper for white cheese - transglutaminase. This is an enzyme that binds proteins together, in the same way that milk coagulation works through rennet. The difference is that transglutaminase is vegan, while rennet is of animal origin.

Tapioca

Tapioca is very suitable for cheeses that should melt (mozzarella). This starch cannot be substituted by other starches such as potato starch. They do not have the same properties when heated.

Agar-agar

Agar-agar is used as an aid to achieve a firm consistency of vegan cheese. We like to use it in the production of feta. Agar-agar is a purely vegetable gelling agent, which consists of dried algae. Agar-agar dissolves in boiling liquids and only becomes solid when cooled. You need to boil agar-agar in liquid for 1-2 minutes for the gelling power to develop.

The best ingredients for a great taste

Yeast flakes 

Yeast flakes, or nutritional yeast, are inactivated yeasts in flake form. In addition to vitamins, they contain trace elements and minerals. We like to use yeast flakes as a sensible addition to a healthy diet. In cheese production, they provide a spicy, nutty flavor.

Miso
Miso, or Japanese butter, is a paste made from fermented soybeans. It is also suitable for cheese making due to its umami flavor. The fermented paste is not only delicious, but also nutritious. Miso is a source of copper, manganese, vitamin K and zinc.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is our favorite for adding a fresh touch to aged cheese and makes a delicious condiment. We recommend you use apple cider vinegar that is not pasteurized, filtered or diluted.

FAQ

What ingredients do I need to make vegan cheese?
For the production of vegan cheese you need few ingredients. The basic base for vegan cheese recipes is usually cashews or almonds. Legumes are also suitable for the production. In addition to the substrate, you will need a bacterial starter culture, or additionally a mold starter culture for white mold cheese.

Do I need starter cultures for making fermented, vegan cheese?
Yes, you need a starter culture for fermented, vegan cheese. For freshly fermented vegan cheese (e.g. cream cheese and ricotta) you use a bacterial starter culture. This is especially suitable for cheese production. If you want to make white mold cheese, you also need a mold starter (P. candidum). You can get the cultures from us in the fairment store.

How does my vegan cheese get a "cheesy" taste?
Spices, yeast flakes, apple cider vinegar and miso provide a delicious flavor. Yeast flakes and miso in particular provide a cheesy note, while apple cider vinegar adds a fresh note to your aged cheese.

Sources:

  1. Botanische Klassifizierung von Nüssen. https://kern-energie.com/

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