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Artisan Vegan Cheese Paperback – August 8, 2012
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Artisan Vegan Cheese: Miyoko Schinner Makes All Your Dreams Come True. --
"Miyoko has found the holy grail of thee culinary world...Artisan Vegan Cheese is exactly the guide we've been waiting for. This is one of the most beautiful and practical books you'll ever own." -Neal Barnard, MD, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
"Miyoko Schinner makes the finest vegan cheeses I've ever had. They are truly amazing. I can't wait to try every recipe in this book." - Betsy Carson, Producer, Delicious TV
About the Author
Miyoko Schinner has been a vegetarian for over forty years and vegan for over half of that time. She is the author of The Now and Zen Epicure and Japanese Cooking:Contemporary and Traditional. Miyoko, who has an on-line, whimsical cooking show called Miyoko's Kitchen, has been teaching, cooking, and writing about vegan foods for over thirty years. She shares her passion and knowledge of vegan cuisine in her classes, and will be co-hosting "Vegan Mashup," a public television cooking show, starting fall 2012. She lives in Northern California with her husband, children, dogs, cats and pet chickens.
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-This is not a recipe book. This is a cheese-making book with some recipes for how to use the cheeses at the end. The difference? Real cheeses are cultured and take time. The same is true of real dairy cheeses, which most of us have never tried making before. Many vegan cheezy recipes in other cookbooks try to use flavorings to make them taste like regular cheeses so they are made quickly. Except for a chapter of almost-instant cheeses, don’t expect to make your favorite cheese for dinner tonight. Understanding this will set the expectations for this book.
-Culturing will also lead to hits and misses as you learn how to do it. My previous experience with culturing before this was with sourdough, which has been invaluable when starting this book. The first few loaves of sourdough I made were bricks and tasted horrible. The ambient temperature, humidity, and the culture that you start with (the rejuvelac or yogurt for the cheeses) will all affect how your culturing goes. Do not tightly close the cultures. Living organisms release carbon dioxide just like we do, and your cheeses may expand in the container, and the pressure of the gas may even make the container break. If you are culturing a thick mixture and it never expands, you probably need to wait longer. I suspect some people who did not find the cheeses to be flavorful were not successful in their culturing. Live and learn.
-The ingredients are important and something that I think needed to be better emphasized in this book (and is emphasized well in The Nondairy Formulary). Only use uniodized salt, as iodine can prevent culturing. Only use filtered water, the chlorine from the tap can prevent culturing. To be safe, only soak the nuts with filtered water too. Rather than buying water, I keep a pitcher of water in the fridge. If it sits for a few days, the chlorine dissipates. For the yogurt, only use soymilk or almondmilk without additives (i.e. soybeans or almonds + water, nothing else), the additives can affect how your cultures proceed. Also, you are more likely to have success with the yogurt using soymilk (versus almond milk). Don’t use nuts that have been sitting around for a long time, if they don’t taste good raw, they won’t taste good in your cheese.
-If you have a nut allergy, do not buy this book. A better one for you would be the nondairy formulary. However, if you don’t have a nut allergy, I find Miyoko’s book to be superior and like that the nuts make the cheeses nutritious.
-If you go into drinking soymilk thinking that it’s going to be the exact same as dairy milk, you’ll be disappointed. But if you drink it thinking that it could be its own tasty beverage, then you can like it. Same for these cheeses. They are not going to fool anyone into thinking that they are dairy cheeses (unless they are a spread or sauce that is very strongly flavored). The texture is different and in some it is possible to notice a slight nutty taste (which I like). But they are tasty in their own right and do have flavors like the flavors of the dairy cheeses.
-It is possible to reduce to the time associated with these recipes by using store-bought yogurt and rejuvelac, and nut butters (look for raw or unroasted, as the roasting will change the flavors). However, I found the yogurt and rejuvelac with quinoa to be super easy and it keeps for awhile. I love this yogurt recipe so I don’t plan on buying store bought yogurt anymore. This yogurt is also clean eating (Versus store bought vegan, which usually has additives to firm it up more). If it is not thick enough for you, strain it in cheesecloth overnight and it will be Greek style (or what Miyoko calls yogurt cheese).
-It is possible to get away without a high speed blender if you have nut butters. Sprouts supermarket here carries store-made cashew butter, and Artisana brand is available at Whole Foods and on Amazon also carries it. Note that the nut butters themselves can be expensive, but it lets you get away without a blender that costs a lot more. For nut butters, replace 1 cup whole nuts with ½ cup nut butter.
-Don’t feel like you have to use cashews. I think the reason cashews are the preferred nut is because they blend the easiest. I find the cashews a little too sweet for some of the milder cheeses. I love using Macadamias in the yogurt (though they are even more expensive than cashews). A cheaper alternative is almonds, though you will probably need a high speed blender for this (unless, if anyone knows of a raw almond butter-do NOT use roasted! the flavor will be different). Brazil nuts may also work. Go for milder nuts if you experiment.
-I personally boil the nuts before using them in these recipes. A lot of my nuts come from bulk bins and I worry about insect larvae. I have found that boiling does not affect the recipe. Just don’t roast them. Nuts roast at a higher temperature and can alter the flavor quite a bit.
-It is possible to avoid using carrageenan if you are worried about it. Miyoko explains her use of carrageenan and that it helps the cheeses melt better. I have been using agar and it works alright. 1 Tbsp carrageenan = 2 Tbsp agar powder = 6 Tbsp agar flakes. I’d recommend the powder over the flakes if you don’t blend the flakes, the flakes do not always dissolved in thick solutions.
-I got this book for Christmas and so far have made rejuvelac, yogurt (twice, once with cashews and once with macadamias), cream cheese, yogurt cheese, sharp cheddar, meltable muenster, nut parmesan, and tofu ricotta. I have made cashew cream previously and it is a great base to sauces or desserts that you might otherwise use dairy cream for (but don't expect it to whip, use coconut cream for that). All have turned out well but again, don’t think it’s going to be exactly the same as their dairy counterparts. I currently have air dried parmesan in the works. I noticed that some other people have had issues with this and it does seem like the drying may be taking longer than the book suggests but I am optimistic. Tasting the mixture before it started air drying it already tasted amazing. Next up is camembert, gruyere, and provolone. Looking forward to trying all the cheeses in this book!
Aside from this, the recipes are delicious and we have thoroughly enjoyed the ones we have tried. The sharp cheddar is very good and that is the one we started with. It takes more than the 3 to 5 minutes (at least it did for me) to cook til completion, but once it comes together, it is worth the effort. I'm determined to fix the mozzarella tonight for pizza. I'm sure it will be equally as good. If not, I'll be back to add to this review. It's a good book and a lot of work went into the creation of these wonderful recipes. Oh BTW, there are different kinds of carrageenan and you may wish to visit some of the resources that the author has listed in the back of the book. Amazon does not tell you the difference between the different varieties.
As others have noted, it's pretty amazing the difference just a few extra ingredients can make; the difference between cashew cheese and brie is a little salt, a tablespoon of nutritional yeast and coconut oil. I am awed by Schinner's mastery of technique and based on the cheeses from her pantry cookbook I am looking forward to the other recipes.
Having said that, I took off a star because the ebook formatting is not helpful, especially compared to her pantry book. When recipes are referenced in both the index and in other recipes within the book, there almost no hyperlinks. This means that if one recipe builds off of a base recipe- as many do- you have to search through the table of contents or create bookmarks. Not entirely useless, but more difficult than it needs to be.
Still, I highly recommend this for any vegan looking to make cheese; you will not be disappointed.