Replacing cheese - What you should know & what basic ingredients you need to make vegan cheese alternatives at home
Natural meat alternatives ? Check. Just make your own oat milk at home ? Check. Replace egg flavor with kala namak ? Check. But what about cheese? Are there alternative foods that come close to the taste and consistency of cheese? We want to get to the bottom of this question today.
Why vegan cheese makes sense
“I just couldn’t do without cheese!” – For many people, this is exactly one of the reasons why they cannot imagine eating a vegan diet. And I also admit that I had a hard time giving up cheese for a long time. Cheese is diverse in terms of consistency, use and intensity of taste - and simply delicious.
However, if you consider how cheese is made and the suffering that goes along with the production of cheese, the whole thing looks different. Cheese is ultimately a dairy product made from cow, sheep or goat milk. And it is precisely this point - that the production of cheese requires the production of milk - that many people seem to forget. This makes eating cheese just as unethical as drinking milk.
To make a long story short: The dairy cows are first artificially inseminated. After birth and shortly thereafter separation from their young calf, the cows only serve as living milk machines. Continuous milking often causes serious inflammation and illness. As if that wasn't bad enough, the young calves - unless they face the same fate as their mothers - are slaughtered and processed into veal.
In addition to this ethical reason to avoid cheese and other dairy products, there are of course many other reasons for a plant-based diet. But this is another story… :-)
What the challenge is in making cheese substitutes
Cheese consists largely of milk protein and animal fats. By varying various sub-processes such as ripening or the ratio between fat and water, a wide variety of consistencies and flavors are created: from cream cheese and semi-hard cheese to brined cheese such as feta to mozzarella and hard cheese. It is precisely this diversity that makes cheese so popular.
Unfortunately, this is also the biggest difficulty for vegan substitute products. This diversity places high demands on cheese alternatives. There are now a lot of different vegan substitute products. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to imitate a “whole” Gouda or Camembert, for example.
The plant-based alternatives to cheese are usually produced based on nuts, legumes and seeds, such as almonds, cashews or soy. Because they provide fat and a lot of protein and can be processed in a variety of ways. But what's still missing is the typical spicy taste of cheese. Spicy spices such as paprika, onion powder and mustard are particularly used for this.
Fortunately, the supply of vegan cheese alternatives is increasing significantly - of course due to the ever-increasing demand. Plant-based alternatives to cream cheese, parmesan, pizza crumble cheese, feta, and of course sliced cheese are now available. These can be found in well-stocked supermarkets, organic shops and also in some health food stores.
By the way, vegan cheese is often healthier than conventional cheese because the plant-based alternative is less acidic and has better fatty acid patterns. Of course, the whole thing varies depending on the product, ingredients and composition and processing of the ingredients.
How to make vegan cheese at home – With these 3 basic ingredients
Vegan cheese alternatives don't always have to come from the supermarket. Plant-based cheese can also be made at home. This is often even easier than you would think. You can find a variety of recipes on the internet, and you can also find a recipe for a vegan cheese dip on our blog here !
(So that you don't miss anything in the future, please subscribe to our blog newsletter - simply scroll to the end of this linked page and enter your name and email address ☺).
The basic ingredients for plant-based cheese preparations are basically always the same: cashews, yeast flakes and almond butter.
Cheese often has a nutty note. It's not far-fetched to imitate cheese based on nuts. Cashew nuts are particularly good for this. But it's not just the taste that impresses, but also the consistency and processing options of cashews. In contrast to other nuts, cashews have a rather mild taste. If desired, this can easily be pimped up with a few spices. Another advantage of cashews is their naturally creamy white color. This is particularly suitable for imitating light cheeses.
If you want to make cheese substitutes with cashews, you should have a good mixer. Because that depends on how creamy the end product will be. It is also important that the kernels have been soaked in water beforehand, because only then can they be processed really well.
There are several ways to soak cashews. To be on the safe side, soak the cashews in warm water overnight. If you don't have a lot of time on hand, you can soak them for a few hours beforehand or even boil them in water for about 10 minutes.
One of the foods that I don't want to miss any time soon 😄. Because for me, nothing comes close to the taste of “real” cheese like the aroma of yeast flakes. This spicy, hearty umami taste is created by the glutamic acid contained in yeast flakes.
Unlike dry yeast and fresh yeast, the yeast cells contained in yeast flakes are inactive. So adding nutritional yeast to a dish does not cause the dough to rise. Instead, they are used as a binding agent and for their taste.
It is true that yeast flakes contain many vitamins and trace elements, which is a good thing. However, yeast flakes are usually consumed in such small quantities that the “effect” of the ingredients in yeast flakes is not as extraordinary as is sometimes made out to be.
Yeast flakes are usually sold in 200g cans or bags. There are now spicy and sweet versions. The spicy version contains pure yeast flakes (sometimes enriched with vitamins) and is suitable for savory dishes. For the sweet version, sweet ingredients such as whey powder, bee pollen or honey are added, which can then be added to muesli, for example. If you want to use yeast flakes to make vegan cheese substitutes, you should make sure to choose the spicy version when purchasing.
The flakes can be used plain (e.g. as a substitute for Parmesan) or added to the finished dish to create the cheesy taste. In general, yeast flakes should not be cooked as some of the B vitamins are sensitive to heat.
This is another food that I can no longer imagine my pantry without. Almond butter is versatile; I mainly use it in porridge and for baking. Unfortunately, if you buy it in the store, almond butter is quite expensive. But you can also make it yourself at home. Personally, I have to admit that I haven't tried it yet (but it's definitely on my list!).
But back to the actual topic:
Because almond butter can also be used as a cheese substitute. It is particularly popular for gratinating, for example on casseroles or pizza. If you have to do it quickly, you can add it straight over the dish before baking.
If you have a little more time, boil water with a little flour until a thick mixture is formed. Then stir in one to two tablespoons each of almond butter and yeast flakes. The whole thing is seasoned with salt and pepper – voilà, vegan cheese melt!
The nice thing about all of these ingredients is that they store well. This means you don't have to run to the supermarket every time you want to make cheese substitutes. You usually already have the remaining ingredients for making plant-based cheese at home, such as plant-based milk, flour or spices. So you can get started straight away! :)
If you would like to find out more about the topics of nutrition, mindfulness, family & pregnancy or sustainability, take a look here .
Short sentences that have a big impact - affirmations and mantras are particularly found in meditation and yoga as well as in spiritual teachings. But even if you don't have much to do with these a...Read more