A sultry whimper escapes our mouth every time we hear the word cheese, isn’t it so? Cheese makes us drooly and wanting more. It fills our mouth with the creamy taste and noses with milky scent.
However, is it always so? We know there are over fifty varieties of cheese available in the world. Each has its peculiarities. Today we are here with vegan cheese.
What Exactly is Vegan Cheese?
Vegan Cheese is simply a non-dairy cheese. Vaguely, it means that no animal products are used in the preparation of vegan cheese.
Vegan cheese can be made with components derived from vegetables, such as proteins, fats, and plant milk. It also can be made from seeds, such as sesame, sunflower, nuts, and soybeans. Other ingredients may include coconut oil, nutritional yeast, tapioca, rice, potatoes, and spices.
Vegan Cheese was first made with the motive of making something to replace the traditional cheese which can be healthier. It first emerged in the 16th century in China.
However, the commercial packaging did not start as late as the 1970s. The initial product was low on quality and had a chalky texture. Over the years, it evolved to its present form which is widely consumed.
Why Does Vegan Cheese Smell So Bad?
If you look at a slab of vegan cheese and regular cheese kept beside each other, you are sure to be confused between the two. However, one sniff and it will be crystal clear.
The smell of vegan cheese is described as loathsome and gaggy. In many renowned chef blogs, it is compared to deplorable objects like stale milk, stench, and sweaty socks.
The reason why vegan cheese smell so bad is due to the ingredients and the process of making it. Unlike milk proteins, plants do not breakdown gracefully. They leave a strong smell behind which is almost impossible to be separated.
Hence, we warn you to hold your nose before you open the pack of vegan cheese and decide to take a whiff.
How Does Vegan Cheese Taste Like?
The most noticeable trait about dairy-free cheese is that it doesn’t melt quite the same. One should not expect the same gooey experience when topping the pizza with vegan cheese.
However, the formula for vegan cheese is improving day by day and the newly introduced processes are making it taste more like the real stuff.
How is Vegan Cheese Prepared?
Vegan cheese is animal-free and made using vegetable proteins. Vegan cheese is made from soy, nuts (such as cashews and macadamias), and vegetable oils. Others derive from agar, tapioca, peas, and arrowroot.
Vegan cheese is created using a process that shares some similar steps with traditional cheesemaking. Plant proteins are separated using bacteria. Then oils and thickeners are added to help create the desired cheeselike consistency.
Just like traditional cheeses, time is the secret to a tasty cheese slab. The vegetable protein and bacteria sit and break down further. Unlike the animal proteins in dairy cheeses, those in vegan cheeses don’t naturally bond to one another. The result is flavors that tend to not be as complex and unique.
Is Vegan Cheese Healthy?
Recent researches indicate cheese may be good for your health and reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Vegan cheeses, especially, are typically lower in fat, protein and calcium than regular cheese and are likely gluten-free. Since vegan cheese is a processed food, it tends to be higher in sodium, so one should check the labels.
Also, vegans can’t count on vegan cheese as a protein source, the way that vegetarians may sometimes rely on regular cheese. So while it’s not a super vegan health food the way kale and lentils are, vegans may rejoice in eating pizza, grilled cheese and queso dip again with a sense of eating cheese.
How To Make Vegan Cheese Taste Better?
We have concluded above that Vegan cheese does not taste nearly as good as regular dairy-cheese. However, this does not mean that you are stuck with a bland taste of non-dairy cheese in the name of health.
There are ways to make it taste better. Certainly not like the regular vegetarian cheese, but close enough for you to actually like it if not love.
You can use the following ingredients to make vegan cheese taste better:
- Onions and Garlic
Onions and Garlic are regular ingredients that are readily available in every kitchen. These two condiments are used in recipes exquisitely to add a savory tinge to your dishes. This is exactly what they’ll do to vegan cheese as well!
Add some finely chopped garlic and onions to a pan and saute the cheese in it for about a minute. This can alter the bland taste of the vegan cheese dramatically.
- Nuts and Seeds
When making vegan cheese at home, you can use a nutty base for the cheese to make it taste better. A neutral-flavored nut like cashews, almonds, macadamias, or brazil nuts easily does the trick.
They do not have a strong taste and easily blend in with the cheese. Also, when you use it in your dishes they do not overthrow the overall taste.
- Herbs and Spices
There is never a better way to enhance the taste of anything than to sprinkle some herbs and spice. However, you should be well aware of which spice will compliment your dish.
In the case of vegan cheese, seas salt, garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, cayenne, pepper flakes taste best. If you are intending to make a cheese dip, fresh chopped herbs like sage and parsley are good.
As recommended by many chefs, adding a probiotic capsule also adds tanginess to vegan cheese. Additionally, you get to enjoy the benefits of fermented foods like better digestion and nutrient absorption.
Add a probiotic capsule to your cheese and leave it out for a day. Then wrap it up and place it in the fridge. In about a day or two, it will develop a tanginess similar to regular cheese.
Why Doesn’t Vegan Cheese Melt?
We have established that Vegan cheese does not melt, but why does it not melt? Let’s answer that question now.
Vegan cheese contains milk like the regular dairy cheese, however, it is made of soy milk or other plant milk. Plant milk does not contain ‘Casein’. Casein is the prime protein responsible for the cheesy behavior of the cheese which makes it melt.
Casein is a kind of protein found in animal milk. It has clotting features that the cheesemakers have exploited to make the gooey-cheese. This enzyme lets go of the bonds partially making it stretch but then holds it there never letting go.
This is the reason regular cheese melts and stretches the way it does. It does not let the stretched morsel break but only stretch farther until you chew it out. Due to the lack of this enzyme, vegan cheese does not stretch.
Cheesemakers and food-biologists have been trying to find a breakthrough for this problem by adding casein artificially but it has not succeeded yet. Other experiments are on their way.
How To Make Vegan Cheese Melt?
Vegan cheese does not melt easily. Regular cheese melts while being cooked along with your dish. However, everything has a way around it, isn’t it? We have just the hack for you to get that slab of vegan cheese to melt the way regular cheese does.
Here is how you can melt vegan cheese:
- Take a slab of vegan cheese and grate it. It is up to you if you want to grate it thick or thin.
- Take a pan and put it on low flame. After the pan has heated a bit, add grated cheese to it.
- Slowly pour one-fourth cup of milk in the pan and keep stirring using a spatula. You can alter the quantity as you see fit.
- Do not stop stirring, else the cheese might get stuck to the pan and burn.
- After about 5 minutes, your cheese will be completely molten and ready to be used in your dishes.
The consistency of the molten cheese can be adjusted as required by you in your dish. After the cheese melts, turn off the heat and let it sit for a minute to cool off.