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Viva il formaggio!

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A lot of parties have expressed interest in knowing how the dairy-free mozzarella experiment came out. A recent issue of Veg News raved about some simple techniques to craft artisan vegan cheeses at home and boy howdy! We were excited to give it a go.

The first time I visited Italy was in 2008. At the time I was vegetarian but not yet vegan, so I ate a LOT of mozzarella-based caprese sandwiches and salads. Italian food is still pretty synonymous with cheese for a lot of us (for some brief reflections on my most recent vegan trip to Italy, stick around). Buffalo mozzarella is the fresh white squidgy cheese that comes in a water pack. Normally made from the milk of either the water buffalo or the cow, it is no longer something I ever want to eat, but the prospect of a soy and cashew based version is like the moon hitting my eye like a big-a pizza pie.

Using only soy yogurt, raw cashews, and tiny bits of nutritional yeast, salt, tapioca flour and agar-agar, the process took a lot of preparatory time but minimal effort. You have to plan ahead approximately two days to drain your yogurt and allow the mixture to culture. The final step includes dissolving the agar-agar (a seaweed based coagulant), whisking it all together and cooking it down, then plunging it into ice water where it magically huddles itself together into firm little balls of cheese. I was all like “che meraviglia!” when it actually worked!

My final product was a little more soft and creamy than I would’ve liked. I think cooking it down for longer would have allowed it to to become more firm and chewy. I also think next time I will add a little more salt. It has a good mild fermenty-cheesey flavor, but my taste asks for it to be a little more on the salty side. Ultimately it was stunningly easy and yielded about a pound of fresh cheese for around $6 worth of ingredients! My parents were visiting so we made caprese salad with some of the last seasonal tomatoes and fresh basil. It seemed to be a hit and Joe and I both felt it was worthy of our memories of  cheeses of our past.

Next on the agenda: BRIE!



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This entry was posted on October 4, 2012 by in recipes, Uncategorized.