Day 3 – Plant-Based Cheese

by maida

Have you ever wondered how to make vegan cheese?  I’m starting to re-create my basic baking staples with plant-based ones. Join me as I experiment with natural and organic ingredients you can find in your home.

Does homemade vegan cheese really taste good?

The store bought brands probably aren’t what you had hoped they would be, but this vegan cheese will amaze you! Even non-vegans love this stuff!

Vegan cheeses just don’t cut it for most people, but this recipe is as close as it comes to satisfying those cheese cravings! I’ve put out a cheese platter at many parties and family get-togethers and I’m always shocked with all the dairy eaters who are devouring my coconut cheese. (By the way, it’s rude to eat up all the vegan cheese at a party leaving the vegans hungry).

Showing how to make vegan cheese 3 ways. Vegan mozzerella, vegan smoked gouda, and vegan garlic herb.

Is making your own vegan cheese worth the effort?

YES! It may seem overwhelming to make your own cheese, but I promise that it is very easy and worth every bit of your time!

Why make your own vegan cheese?

  • The cheeses that you buy at the store have sat on the shelf for a few weeks, they’re wrapped in plastic and have preservatives that change the flavor.
  • You will not be able to buy vegan cheese that tastes this good in a store!
  • And… once you make it, you will see how simple it is to make your own!

Will it have a strong coconut flavor?

Surprisingly, this cheese doesn’t have as much of a coconut flavor as you may think.  There is a slight coconut taste in the plain cheese, but it’s almost undetectable in the smoked Gouda or garlic herb versions.  If you really hate the flavor of coconut, you may choose to use a different type of plant-based milk, but your cheese will not be as rich and creamy as the coconut cheese.

A stack of three types of vegan cheese, garlic her, smoked gouda, and mozzarella.

How to make vegan cheese without coconut milk?

You can substitute the coconut milk with any plant-based milk that you choose and some oil.

Use 1 1/4  cup of plant milk and ½ cup oil instead of the coconut milk and water. This will work well, but it’s not as rich and creamy as the coconut cheese.

You can leave out the oil as well, but it will not have the same texture and mouthfeel as cheese if you make a low-fat version.

What ingredients do I need to make vegan cheese and what do they do?

With just a few ingredients, you can make the most delicious vegan cheese you have ever had!

  • Full Fat Coconut Milk – to give this dairy-free cheese a rich creamy texture.  (You can also use a can of coconut cream).
  • Water – to get the correct moisture level in your cheese.
  • Nutritional Yeast – to give it the cheesy flavor.
  • Salt – for flavor.
  • Lemon Juice – just a small squeeze gives it a little cheesy bite.
  • Agar-agar – a white powder made from seaweed.  It is like a vegan gelatin.  It makes the cheese firm. (It comes in flakes or powder, but use the powder. It is less expensive, you need less of it, and it blends easier and smoother.)
  • Tapioca flour – (aka tapioca starch) to give the cheese a little stretch when it melts. (You can leave this out for a firmer cheese).

Put all together, and it makes the perfect vegan cheese!

Vegan mozzarella slices with tomato.
Vegan mozzarella

What if I want the cheese firmer or softer?

You can adjust the amount of agar agar to make the cheese more or less firm.  You can also increase the tapioca flour to make the cheese stretcher when it melts.

  • If you want cheese that is good for slicing and eating cold or on a cracker, use only 1 tsp. or tapioca flour.
  • For a very firm cheese eliminate the tapioca flour altogether.
  • If you want a melty vegan cheese for pizza or grilled cheese, increase the tapioca flour by 2 tbsp. (this will equal a total of 2 tbsp+1 tsp) for stretchy vegan pizza cheese.
Someone pulling apart a vegan grilled cheese sandwich with the vegan cheese stretching between the pieces.

How to make vegan cheese from coconut milk?

  1. Simply put all the ingredients into a saucepan and stir with a whisk.
  2. Heat to a slow boil stirring constantly for 6 minutes. This allows the agar-agar to melt completely and set properly. (It may seem ready after 3-4 minutes but keep it at a low boil for 6 minutes to make sure that it is completely smooth).
  3. It will get very thick and stretchy.
  4. Then pour into any shape container that you wish.  (One batch makes almost 2 cups of cheese).  I like to use these Snapware containers because they are made of glass and won’t affect the flavor and have a lid with a good airtight lid to keep the cheese fresh longer.
  5. Allow the cheese to cool to room temperature without a lid.
  6. Then seal with a lid or cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours.

Pro Tips:

  • Stir the cheese sauce very frequently.  Do not walk away from it while cooking.
  • Use whatever shape that you wish for a cheese mold – glass or ceramic work best.  (Some people use a silicone mold, but I think that it changes the taste of the cheese).
  • Use a small amount of spray oil to keep it from sticking to the cheese mold.
  • Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer up to 3 months.
Vegan cheese made with coconut milk sliced on a marble cutting board.

HOW TO MAKE VEGAN CHEESE – VEGAN PROVOLONE

Prep Time : 2 mins

Cook Time8 mins

Chill Time2 hrs 15 mins

Total Time10 mins 

How to make a basic vegan cheese using coconut milk and free of dairy, gluten, soy, and nuts.  Vegan provolone flavored cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1 can coconut milk full fat
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp agar agar powder
  • 1 tsp tapioca flour (aka tapioca starch)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Prepare cheese molds by spraying a glass bowl or container with spray oil or rub any neutral flavored oil on the molds to prevent sticking. (Recipe will make about 2 cups of cheese).
  2. Pour the can of coconut milk into a saucepan.
  3. Put 1/2 cup of hot water into the empty coconut milk can to melt all the remaining coconut milk and add the water to the pan.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients to the saucepan and stir with a whisk.
  5. Set heat on to medium and stir frequently until it boils.
  6. Turn down the heat until the cheese sauce is just barely boiling and stir constantly for 6 minutes until it is very smooth.
  7. Immediately pour into the prepared cheese molds.
  8. Let it cool with the lid off for about 15 minutes at room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to firmly set. 
  9. Once the cheese is cooled completely cover and store in the refrigerator in a sealed for up to a week.

Recipe Notes

  • To make this cheese able to melt and better for use on pizza or grilled cheese, add 2 additional tablespoons of tapioca starch. (this will equal a total of 2 tbsp+1 tsp)
  • For a firmer cheese, leave out the tapioca starch from the recipe. 
  • Make it cheesier by adding an additional tsp of nutritional yeast.
  • You can substitute the coconut milk with any plant-based milk that you choose and some oil. Use 1 1/4  cup of plant milk and ½ cup oil instead of the coconut milk and water.

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