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Artisan Vegan Cheese, Miyoko Schinner (Book Publishing Company, 2012)

Artisan Vegan Cheese, Miyoko Schinner (Book Publishing Company, 2012)

Artisan Vegan Cheese Cookbook Review by VegansEatWhat.com

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The broad world of cheese has always been considered the last area of food that could not be veganized – that is, until Miyoko Schinner’s book!  You may remember Miyoko from the wonderful company “Now and Zen”.  Among other great products, her company made the Unturkey which was the best vegan turkey available during that time frame!

About the Author . . .

in 1991, Miyoko Schinner produced what would be the first of many cookbooks,  The Now and Zen Epicure (Book Publishing Company).  In 2012, the talented chef, author and entrepreneur authored Artisan Vegan Cheese (Book Publishing Company) to inspire others to make their own vegan cheese. Despite the enormous success of the book, people requested that the author make and sell her cheeses commercially.  From the ongoing demand, Miyoko’s Kitchen was born!

About the Book . . .

Artisan Vegan Cheese is not only full of plant-based cheese recipes, it is full of vegan dairy alternatives and includes recipes for using the various alternative dairy products.  A key to making many of the cheeses is a fermented beverage named rejuvelac, which is made from whole grains.  Rejuvelac is used as a probiotic beverage and as a starter for fermented foods such as yogurt, nut cheese, sauces, and breads.  While the author gives specific instructions for making rejuvelac, we found that it is also available online and at many health food stores.

About the Recipes . . .

We tried several cheeses from the book including Brie, Boursin, and Sharp Cheddar and enjoyed a “cheese and cracker” evening with friends.  Each cheese met  with success and everyone found a favorite.  We share the Miyoko’s Sharp Cheddar Cheese recipe below.

If you are vegan, vegetarian, veg-curious or lactose intolerant, Artisan Vegan Cheese is a cookbook that belongs in your kitchen!  And for those who prefer to simply enjoy the finished product, many of Miyoko’s delicious plant-based cheeses can be purchased online at http://miyokoskitchen.com/products-miyoko/.  The cheeses are also available in most vegan and many health food stores such as Nooch Vegan Market in Denver and Whole Foods stores throughout the county.

Review by Justina Walls (9/29/15)


Sharp Cheddar – from Artisian Vegan Cheese (makes about 1 pound)

  • 2 c raw cashews, soaked in water for 3-8 hours & drained
  • 1-2 T medium brown miso
  • 2/3 c nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ c rejuvelac
  • 1 T carrageenan powder, or 2 T agar powder
  • ½ c canola oil (opt. – see note below)
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum

Process the ingredients.  Put the cashews, nutritional yeast, rejuvelac, oil (if using) and 1 T of the miso and salt in the blender.  Process until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the blender jar and move the mixture toward the blades.  Taste and add more miso if desired.

Culture the cheese.  Transfer the mixture to a clean glass bowl or container, cover, and let rest at room temperature for 24to 72 hours, depending on how sharp a flavor you want and the ambient temperature (fermentation will proceed more quickly at warmer temperatures).

Thicken the cheese.  Transfer the cheese to a heavy medium saucepan and stir in the carrageenan and xanthan gum with a wooden spoon.  Cook over medium heat, stirring almost constantly.  The mixture will be very thick, grainy, and difficult to stir at first.  Keep cooking and stirring until it is smooth and glossy and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 3 to 5 minutes.

Form the cheese.  Transfer to a glass or metal mold and smooth the top.  Let cool completely at room temperature.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, until firm.

Storage notes:  Stored in a covered container, soft Sharp Cheddar will keep for about 4 months in the refrigerator or freezer.  (It may age well longer but I haven’t been able to keep it around longer than that!  To store hard Sharp Cheddar, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in a ziplock bag; it will keep for the same amount of time and will become increasingly firm, especially after 3 months.

Crock-Style Cheddar:  For a softer, spreadable “crock-style” cheese, omit the carrageenan and xanthan gum.  After step 2, cover and refrigerate.  The cheese will thicken as it chills, but it won’t be firm enough for slicing

Note:  The optional oil will improve the cheese’s ability to melt and give it a smoother mouthfeel.  However, I generally don’t use the oil, and if you’re looking for a cheese that melts well, I recommend that you make the Meltable Cheddar (page 43).  Omitting the oil won’t affect the flavor of the cheese, and it will still soften if heated.  If you wish to heat the cheese, be aware that a skin will form on top, so it is best to spread the warm cheese with a knife.

Editor’s note:  Carrageenan powder, agar powder and xanthan gum are all available at health food stores.  All are used for various aspects of gelling, thickening and/or stabilizing.

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