Image via Ffffound
2014 UPDATE 2: Miyoko Schinner, of Artisan Vegan Cheese fame, has opened a commercial nut cheese making facility, to enable her to make her game-changing cheeses available for purchase. Miyoko’s Kitchen delivers throughout the USA. Needless to say, I am well jealous of anyone with an American post code right now. I mean goddamn.
2014 UPDATE 1: Rejoice, New Zealanders! All is not lost! We finally have some positive store-bought vegan cheese progress. It was only a matter of time: there is cashew cheese sitting on the shelves of Commonsense Organics. BOOM. Also, Auckland based Kaiaroha are bringing aged vegan cheese to market stalls all around AKL.
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I hear in some wonderful parts of the world, there exists store-bought vegan cheeses that are truly amazing. Dr. Cow, for example. They are fermented, they are handcrafted, they do not look or feel like plastic. They actually taste incredible.
If you live in New Zealand and want to buy the bomb-ass, awesome-tasting, vegan cheese you so deeply deserve, you are shit out of luck. Whatever you see on the shelves here, run a fucking mile. Basically, our options are Scheese, Cheezly and sweet fuck all else.
Do both brands taste just as worrying as their names imply? Yes, yes they do.
Argh! This frustrates me. Eating should be all about fresh, amazing flavours, not settling for an ill-conceived imitation of the real thing, right? Fuck yes, it should. Food rules. I defy Scheese and all of the processed nonsense it stands for! There needs to be a lot better on the shelves before it will be worth throwing your money in that direction. So is there a solution for people who drop the dairy and only have access to what I think of as the “Yellow Plastic Range” of vegan cheese products? Of course! DIY, baby.
Homemade vegan cheese is a whole different, next level game these days.
I tried my hand at dairy-free cheesemaking for the first time yesterday! I made the Fresh Moxarella Cheese from Somer at Vedged Out, which is a superthick, spreadable take on mozzarella, made from a handful of basic ingredients, and using a fast (and brainfail-proof) two-step method. This is a really good recipe for anyone looking to dip a toe into the world of dairy-free cheeses.
Homemade vegan mozz, sliced tomato and basil toasted sandwich; yusssss ♥ ♥ ♥
It was so easy to make and tastes soooooooooo good. Mmm. I actually had a little mindfuck moment and had to remind myself that I wasn’t eating dairy. Last night we made margherita pita pizzas for dinner: A wholemeal pita, a thick smear of homemade tomato-garlic base sauce, a few dollops of mozz and a couple of basil leaves. We’re gonna try it in a lasagne tomorrow.
I am swooning a little.
The mozzerella success has kinda given me cheese on the brain – I am gearing up to try a little more cheese making in the next week or two and have an armful of good leads recipe-wise, which I’m gonna run you through below. Get to experimenting, you might just discover your new favourite thing!
Some recipes require a few irregular ingredients (for example, some of the aged cheeses in Miyoko Schinner’s revolutionary Artisan Vegan Cheese; kappa carrageenan, anyone?), but a lot of them are easy as hell. Cashews are the key. Cashews, and a blender with a little muscle.
If you raise an eyebrow at the inclusion of things like agar agar, xanthan gum and rejuvelac in many of the ingredients lists, don’t worry, agar and xanthan gum you will find no problem at any natural health store or organic supermarket a la Commonsense Organics. Rejuvelac, a probiotic tonic that is often used as a starter in plant-based cheese recipes, is very easy to make yourself; if the idea of sprouting a grain has you running for the hills, word through the grapevine is that pre-made rejuvalac is available in some cities, so check your local purveyor of all things eco and wholesome, just in case.
Another good beginner’s recipe might be a simple cashew cheese like this one from Ann Gentry at Real Food Daily, or Betty Rocker’s Boursin Cashew Cheese. Kathy at Healthy Happy Life has a 3 ingredient Cashew Baked Cheese that looks super-easy and awesome (she makes a rad-looking harissa version, too).
Caprese salad with vegan buffalo mozzarella, photo by Chris Carlozzi, via Vegansaurus
Over at the very cool Vegansaurus, Vi Zahajsky wrote about her – wildly successful! – experience making the Fresh Mozzarella di Bufala from Artisan Vegan Cheese (pictured above and below) along with the recipe. There are only a handful of ingredients needed and they are all easily procured. Miyoko Schinner, the author of Artisan Vegan Cheese, has posted an updated buffalo mozzarella recipe on her blog that uses probiotic soy yoghurt instead of rejuvelac; apparently the texture and taste of that one is pretty damn spot on!
Vegan buffalo mozzarella balls, photo by Chris Carlozzi @ Flikr
There really are a whole big bunch of anything-but-bland lookin’ recipes online. It’s a vegan-cheese-filled world out there in Internetland. This Smoked Coconut Gouda from Somer at Vedged Out looks rad (and if her vegan mozz is anything to go by, it will be 200% rad). Vegetarian Times have some sage advice as well as recipes for almond feta cheese, pepper-crusted cashew goat cheese and good old pine nut cheddar.
Sandra at Kitchen Apparel has posted her spin on a recipe of Miyoko Schinner’s that featured in Veg News late last year, Aged Chèvre with Horseradish, and she begins with her recipe for rye rejuvelac. Over at Art & Lemons, you’ll find an awesome-looking Plain Almond Chèvre as well as another recipe for rejuvelac.
Kay Stepkin at the Chicago Tribune has posted a recipe for Vegan Brie that I bet is delicious. C’est La Vegan sings the praises, and offers the recipe, for a Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese, adapted from Vegetarian Times. I also really like the sound of this Cashew Ricotta from The Simple Veganista.
As far as gooey, cheesy sauces go, I really want to try the Cashew Queso from Isa at the Post Punk Kitchen, as well as Miyoko Schinner’s recipe for her Ultimate Cheese Fondue.
As you can see, there is a lot of exploring and experimenting to be done.
Meanwhile, I am crossing my fingers that foodies around here will get turned on to the awesomeness of dairy-free cheesemaking, and we will reach a point where fresh, nut-based cheeses are available at the local markets, and sit happily on cafe & restaurant menus alongside the usual suspects. There will be a whole lot of very happy bellies in NZ when that happens.
Vegan Cheesemaking Resources
♥ Veg News proffers 3 Rules for Stellar Homemade Vegan Cheese
♥ Kappa carrageenan, one of the crazier sounding ingredients in the vegan cheesemaking world, is available online from Modernist Pantry.
♥ This thread for Artisan Vegan Cheese over at the PPK forums is 49 pages and counting. It is a treasure trove of advice for budding vegan cheesemakers, including a lot of the PPK community’s questions being answered by the author herself. Miyoko gives tips and tweaks on recipe techniques from the book, so it is a really good place to dive in.
Books to investigate:
The Breakthrough: Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner
The OG: The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak
11 thoughts on “KR Guide to Vegan Cheese in New Zealand (& Beyond)”
Yeah, NZ isn’t particularly vegan-cheese friendly. I’m not vegan but have been experimenting with tofu ricotta (the PPK recipe) and am loving it! So far only tried it in tomato based dishes but it’s really quite fantastic (I also add a little miso paste for richness).
Thank you for all the links – would really like to try that moxarella, looks amazing.
Ohh, the PPK tofu ricotta is great, isn’t it? I am totally going to try adding a little miso to my next batch – that is a rad idea 🙂 Do you have a favourite brand? I’ve got Spiral genmai at the mo & I like it a lot but I am on the hunt for a rad shiro miso…
You should definitely give the moxarella a go! It’s great stuff.
Dude! Thanks so much for the linkies! I made grilled cheese with the foxy moxy too! SWOON! Just in case you need more cheese awesomeness, I also have a macadamia nut brie en croute and a pepper jack cashew cheez on my site! xx
My pleasure! Cheers for the heads up about more Vedged Out cheesy goodness 🙂
Lissa, you are an inspiration. I love this! Thanks hun!
Awww, thanks Amber! Cam was tellin’ me last night about how you are veganing it up these days 😀 Super excited for you!!! If you get stuck on anything/have random Qs, just ask – I remember how overwhelming it was at first, trying to figure out so many new things all at once! 200% worth it, though! xo
My lil library of vegan cookbooks is totally yours for the borrowing, too. Also, Welly library has a surprisingly sweet selection of vegan cookbooks, def. worth checking out if you haven’t already 🙂
Thanks for posting all these cheese links – I tried to invent a cultured almond-based one myself but it failed miserably, so have been too scared to try anything but cashews since!
In Australia I know of some shops that sell nut-based cheeses, so hopefully it will happen soon in NZ.
I’ve made cheese, but I don’t think I’ve even tried vegan cheese before. If NZ is lacking in vegan cheese, isn’t it about time someone started a vegan cheese collective? You could sell shares and then reward your shareholders…in cheese 🙂
Vegan cheese collective! Yuss!
So ripe for t-shirt sloganning, haha :p
Hi! THANK YOU FOR YOUR POSTS!! 🙂 …. I’ve been trying to find kappa carrageenan in NZ with no luck, wich supplier do you get it from!! Thanks!!
Hi there 🙂 Online is my go to! I would grab some from modernistpantry.com ; wish that I could help you out with an NZ source.