Monday, 24 July 2023

Aged chickpea cheese

Back in the day when my niece went vegan I had a go at making vegan cheese. I ended up with a nice savoury spread (mostly made of cashews and nutritional yeast), but it wasn't much like cheese! I never tried it again as it didn't seem hugely worthwhile.

However, I've recently seen that people are now making vegan cheese that's:

  •  made from vegan milks (rather than from ground nuts), so is more likely to have a cheesey texture
  • uses probiotics (so it's actually fermented and is more likely to taste right)
  • AND some of them are using affordable ingredients for the base (like sunflower seeds or chickpeas) rather than cashews (which are pretty expensive - especially if you choose the ones produced without child labour and with decent health and safety provisions for the workers).

It looked like an approach that was far more likely to 'work' (texture- and flavour-wise), and was much more affordable, too.

I'm not vegan, but I love experimenting with new recipes (especially fermented ones!), I enjoy surprising vegan friends with quality home-made vegan food, and I'm generally keen to limit the amount of dairy in my diet due to its high climate-change impact.

So in late April I started my first batch of chickpea aged cheese (i.e. fermented like dairy cheese, but vegan), and 9 weeks later (!) I had my first cheese.

I followed the recipe, which called for shea butter as one of the ingredients. I've decided I don't like the shea butter taste that is still very present in the final product, but on the whole I'm pleased with the result. On it's own I find the shea taste too strong, but it worked well on ratatouille :-)