In the vegan diet there is one thing that I miss more than any other single thing. It’s cheese. Real cheese. I’ve been vegan/vegetarian for over 30 years (crazy, right?!) and though I have few other cravings, cheese is my worst enemy. In fact, truth be told, sometimes the enemy wins and I eat pizza, and then I hurrttt… I’m not lactose intolerant; my body just doesn’t like cheese. This summer I finally found a vegan cheese that I am totally in LOVE with! I really can’t stress this enough. I feel like waving my arms and shouting from the rooftops! This cheese is totally life-changing – and all it takes is about 10 minutes of kitchen prep/cook time!
Just FYI, this cheese does grate, slice, melt… It’s pretty flexible. I mean, that’s probably expected from such a wonder cheese. 😉 Because I try not to assume that everyone always loves the same things that I do, I tested this cheese out on a bunch of people this summer. Vegans, vegetarians, and non-vegetarians. So far, I haven’t met anyone who didn’t like it and most told me that it was the best vegan cheese they’d ever tasted.
I can’t take the credit for coming up with this. In fact, you will probably be able to find quite a few similar recipes out there. I’m just here to try and get you to take the leap and make this because I truly think it will surpass your expectations. If you live near me, ask me for samples. 😉 The inspiration for this recipe comes from The Non-dairy Evolution by Sky Michael Conroy. He’s amazing and I’ll include an Amazon link for the book if your are interested. I have to admit that I like my tweaks and method just a bit better, but I couldn’t have come up with this without him, so there you are. LOTS of other good stuff in the book, too.
Ok. Let’s get down to the cheese business. This is a very basic cheese meant to taste like Mozzarella. I think it tastes a lot like string cheese actually. There are lots of fun things you can add in for flavor like sautéed spicy peppers or onion, or chives, herbs, garlic, etc…. I’ve tried a number of variations but I encourage you to try it plain first. Then you can adjust things according to your preferred flavors. In another post I can also share how to make it into ovalinis or mozz balls that you can slice onto your pizza. So much fun!!
The one down-side to this cheese is that it takes a few unusual ingredients that not everyone has on hand. I usually try to stay away from posting recipes with ingredients that aren’t normally in your cupboard, but this one is just worth the effort. PLEASE don’t try this unless you have the exact ingredients listed. It just won’t turn out the same. Here are some ingredients that you might not have on hand or are just super important:
REFINED coconut oil. Please don’t miss the word refined. I missed that when I first tried to make something like this a year ago, and I used Virgin coconut Oil. BIG mistake. Anything virgin tastes stronger. Think Extra Virgin Olive oil; it tastes stronger than just regular olive oil, right? Refined coconut oil doesn’t taste like coconut but it still congeals at cooler temps and just has that wonderful richness. This might sound hard to find, but I live in a remote area, and several local stores sell it. I’ve also bought it at TJMaxx, of all places, and I’ll link a source on Amazon.
Next important ingredient is Tapioca Flour. There may be equitable subs but again this is unbelievably perfect so you just gotta try it. Local health food sections of your grocery store may carry this. I usually buy it online. Another Amazon link here (This link is a for a four pack, so very reasonably priced):
Now for the most unusual vital ingredient. Kappa Carrageenan. This ingredient is what makes the cheese able to go from liquid to solid and back to melted state. It’s a wonder ingredient and not widely sold. I cannot vouch for all producers of this product (which aren’t many) but Modernist Pantry is recommended by Sky Michael Conroy and is the product I use. Check out this Amazon link to find it or buy directly from Modernist Pantry.
Finally, it is important to use plain unsweetened soy milk with no added ingredients. Just soybeans and water. I use WestSoy but I’m told there are other brands with no additives also. You can also make this cheese with homemade almond milk (I can’t find any store-bought almond milks that don’t have additives).
Whew, getting your ingredients together is SO much harder than actually making this, I promise. My final tip before sharing the method would be to make sure to use a fresh squeezed lemon. There, that was simple – and no link needed!! Let’s begin to make cheese, my friends!
Real Vegan Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh squeezed Lemon juice
- 2/3 C. Refined Coconut Oil (measure after melted)
- 5 Tbsp. Tapioca Flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. Himalayan Salt (or other sea salt)
- 1 1/3 C. Soy Milk (west soy or other brand with only soybeans and water as ingredients)
- 4 tsp. Kappa Carrageenan
Select a heat-safe preferably glass dish that can hold approx 3C and set aside. (This is your cheese mold.)
Squeeze lemon and measure 1 Tbsp. into small dish or cup and set aside near your stove.
Melt Refined coconut oil and pour into small/medium heavy bottomed saucepan. (You can melt it by placing a small amount or whole jar into the microwave for a few seconds. Or you can rest the jar in warm water. Either way, measure after it’s melted.)
Add soy milk to the pot, followed by salt and carrageenan. Finally add the tapioca flour and whisk briskly until everything is mixed well. (Do NOT add the lemon yet!!) 😉
Now turn your stovetop onto medium heat. Or medium/high. Just don’t leave your cheese! Whisk continuously to keep oil and milk blended until mixture becomes almost too thick to whisk. Switch immediately to a heat-safe spatula and use the spatula to scrape the sides of the pan and keep the cheese from burning on the bottom. At it’s thickest state it will be very stretchy and fairly hard to keep moving. You want to see the thickened mixture popping great big bubbles. Then you know it’s done. (I have a gas stovetop and the whole cooking process usually takes me under 5 minutes. If your stove heats slower that is fine, too, you just want to make sure to cook a couple minutes at completely thickened state.)
Remove from heat and immediately add lemon juice. Use the spatula to quickly mix the juice in well. Don’t be too gentle here. The change might be a little shocking but you can’t hurt anything.
Immediately transfer your cheese to your chosen dish/mold as it will start to solidify quickly as it cools.
Place in refrigerator to chill. No need to cover yet.
After 2-3 hours or when fully chilled, remove cheese block from dish/mold and wrap in paper towels and then tightly plastic wrap. The flavor gets better over a day or two but it’s great as soon as it’s hardened, too. Yeay! You are officially a cheese-maker!