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How to make Cheddar(ish) Hard Cheese - Dairy-free, Gluten-free, soy-free - Easy

What is it about cheese?...The firm, definite push of the knife as it makes its bid to reach liberty on the counter top, and a thick hunk breaks free, topples forward onto the board; the cool hard bite between wholesome spongy bread; the tang amid fiery french mustard and the melting, saltiness of butter?  For eleven years this experience had passed me by.  For the most part, to be honest, not even missed.  The dairy version, to me was a romantic notion. In reality, the pre-vegan experience, left me with an unpleasant aftertaste with the aromatics of silage. It didn't fair in my body much better and left my body via spots on my face or sticky morning eyes (unpleasant I know).  I didn't miss the effect dairy had on my body for an instant.  But, since my kitchen turned more to a food laboratory than a kitchen, and spending so much time reading food blogs and recipe books, I again became curious about cheese.  What was it that I did enjoy about a cheese sandwich on white bread with lots of butter?  And why did this foodstuff get cited over and over again as the one ingredient that stopped people from embracing dairy free food? And for those who are  already vegan, the more I'm getting to know you I realised perhaps cheese was one of the things you missed the most. My blog is all about making sure you don't miss a thing. I just had to bring you cheese, not creamy or spoonable but HARD, FIRM, SLICEABLE CHEEZE.

So...to work.  What was it that I did enjoy about a cheese sandwich on white bread with lots of butter? I guess it was the opposing textures and lively, sapid, sharpness in combination.   Real Food Daily..right there in LA, has been serving up vegan cheeze for years. Vegan Angela had tried and tested it..... and now, it was my turn. Real Food Daily cheese recipe here - then follow my instructions in the post to make it A Vegan Obsession stylee,   I followed the recipe (mostly) and like Angela,  also halved the original recipe. First try came out more like a firm cheezy mousse.  Delicious but not the desired slab of dense cheeziness.  Second attempt is a rather respectable effort.  Firm but not quite up to the 'two hand' test of strength knife plunge akin to your average Cheddar.  However, I am a perfectionist but nearly perfect right now is a good interim, so I am happy with it none the less and feel it worth of sharing with you.   I shall continue to tweak and experiment and when I do discover the VEGAN HOLY GRAIL of cheeze ingredients to perfect this recipe, I'll be back to lay it at your feet.....metaphorically speaking. 

I admit I made some modifications on the original recipe.....first time I used cashews but not enough agar; 2nd time I used the, less expensive, sunflower seed (that I pre-soaked in water for a couple of hours to make easy disgestible) over the cashews,  South River Miso supply a miso that is SOY FREE - made from the ubiquitos blonde chickpea as do Great Eastern Sun both USA companies. You could also use 2 tbs coconut aminos and I tbs coconut oil as a subsitute to make the cheeze soy-free. When I go to the store next I shall get some but I am all about getting a recipe perfected with the minimum of cost so I thought I'd give it a go.  Having a dairy-free, meat-free, gluten-free, sugar-free diet need not be expensive, and, hell, you save on all the medications you need to make you well from a standard Western diet, by default!  I also substituted (to keep it soy free) the soya milk with coconut milk (not cream) and added a couple of tbs of nutritional yeast.  I used a 1/4 cup of ground agar flakes. The flavour was awesome.  The texture like a firm pate or soyrizo.  Vegan Angela was not too ramped up with the flavour characteristics of hers so perhaps the concentrated flavours of dried miso soup added a little something.

½ cup raw cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch ground white pepper
1 ½ cups coconut milk (in a carton and NOT coconut cream from a can)this is instead of soy milk
¼ cup ground agar agar flakes
¼ cup canola oil
2 tbs liquid aminos (Braggs or coconut) 1tbs coconut oil (this is to replace the miso if you require soy free..gently melt the oil and mix with the aminos)
1 tablespoons fresh lemon

Method - from The Real Food Daily Blog

1. finely grind the cashews in a food processor ((do not allow the cashews to turn into a paste). Add the nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, garlic powder, and white pepper. Pulse 3 more times to blend in the spices.
2.Combine the coconut milk, agar, and oil in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the agar is dissolved. With the food processor running, gradually pour the milk mixture through the feed tube and into the cashew mixture. Blend for 2 minutes, or until the mixture is very smooth and creamy. Blend in the miso and lemon juice.
For grated or sliced cheese: Transfer the cheese to a container; cover and refrigerate until it is very firm, about 4 hours. Once it is firm, grate or slice the cheese as desired.
For melted cheese: Use the cheese immediately as melted cheese. To make the cheese in advance, cover and refrigerate it. When ready to use, melt it in a saucepan over medium heat until it is smooth and creamy, stirring frequently and adding more soy milk to the melted cheese to thin, if necessary.

The cheese will keep for 4 days, covered and refrigerated.

I'd LOVE to know how yours turns out, and discover if you make any little tweaks to reach 'Cheddar like' perfection or inventive new fusion. 

I think next time I may try it with adding chopped walnuts to the puree and maybe, just because it's seasonal, cranberries.  A little extra garlic may be nice to make a soft garlic cheeze too.  Oh the fun to be had.

* The cheese freezes well and can been used to enliven a soup (so good with brocolli soup) or melted into some vegan milk to make a sauce.


chow vegan 14 December 2011 20:38   Best Blogger Tips

The cheese looks great, love your experiments! I've been meaning to try making a vegan cheese at home, just haven't gotten around to it. :-)

Katie 8 January 2012 20:49   Best Blogger Tips

Maybe I'm being a bit of a space cadet....BUT where is your actual recipe? Also, isn't Miso made of soy? I'm trying to find food for my daughter to eat who is allergic to gluten, dairy & soy. It's a massive vegan headache.

India-leigh 9 January 2012 10:42   Best Blogger Tips


Katie...I am the SPACE CADET!!! I didn't write my 2nd modification...I used aminos and coconut oil to substitute. I've just done a little research and (if you are in the US) you can order chickpea miso which is entirely soy free. the links are in the post. Let me know how it turns out. I hope your daughter enjoys it! x

India-leigh 9 January 2012 10:51   Best Blogger Tips


UPDATE: Hey, Katie, I see you are in Australia - I've had a look online http://cityorganics.com.au/naturally/dips-spreads-miso they sell chickpea miso! x

Katie 9 January 2012 22:09   Best Blogger Tips


Thanks for that. What were the measurements for your substitutions (and what exactly was each a substitute for)?

India-leigh 10 January 2012 13:58   Best Blogger Tips


Katie, first I took the basic Real Food Daily recipe. I then halved the ingredients. The soy miso can be substituted, same quantity, the aminos and raw coconut oil in the quantity I listed will be an exact substitution for the soy-miso. The coconut milk is the product in a carton, the same consistency of soy milk. It is very versatile and its flavour does not over power..actually you don't detect coconut at all. I used a 1/4 cup of ground agar flakes that I put in a coffee grinder and ground myself. This quantity is the the halved RFD recipe that I modified. I hope that is clearer. Come right back to me if not. I'm happy to help! I'm travelling so I'll answer as soon as I can :)

India-leigh 13 January 2012 08:20   Best Blogger Tips


sorry, I should of said I'd written the changes in the post. Here is the recipe;
½ cup raw cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch ground white pepper
1 ½ cups coconut milk (in a carton and NOT coconut cream from a can)this is instead of soy milk
¼ cup ground agar agar flakes
¼ cup canola oil
2 tbs liquid aminos (Braggs or coconut) 1tbs coconut oil (this is to replace the miso if you require soy free..gently melt the oil and mix with the aminos)
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Laurlita,  27 February 2012 00:15   Best Blogger Tips

The Cheese looks so good. Do you think it would work if I sub the cashews for chickpeas? My 2 yr old is allergic to dairy, soy, eggs, wheat, all nuts, sesame and sunflower seeds. Any help would be a big help.

India-leigh 27 February 2012 22:31   Best Blogger Tips


Hey Laurlita,

Sorry for your little one! Lucky there is so much help on the web these days. It must be a challenge for you both. I am not able to test this out right now (travelling, so my recipe testing is on hold). I would try a few things...sub the cashews for half chickpeas and half coconut butter (you need to have the oil content to give the solidity. Or sub the cashews for half coconut butter and half (in addition to recipe) nutritional yeast. Blend the chickpeas to a smooth consistancy. Perhaps also double the agar in the recipe too. Will you please come back and let me know how it turns out. We can tweak it together..I may come up with something else meantime too.

Laurlita,  1 March 2012 20:20   Best Blogger Tips


It worked! I made a small batch with 1/4 cup chickpeas, 1/8 cup coconut spread, 1/8 cup nutritional yeast, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, pinch of white pepper, 3/4 cup coconut milk, 1/8 cup plus 1/16 cup agar flakes, 1/8 cup canloa oil, 1 tbls coconut aminos, 1/2 tbls coconut oil, 1/2 tbls fresh lemon juice.

The cheese is about as firm as the commercial rice milk cheese, but it has a nice flavor the first day then it gets more garlic and onion flavor as it ages, not bad. I will play with it more.

I was looking at the commercial rice cheese any idea what the pea protian is for?

Thank you for you help, this has given me more confidence in experimenting in the kitchen.

india-leigh 4 March 2012 00:58   Best Blogger Tips


your comment 'this has given me more confidence in experimenting in the kitchen' MADE.MY.DAY! It is exactly want I encourage people to do. I am so happy it worked out. Right now, I am travelling but I'll be making it this way when I get back. I wonder if we could make it 'harder' by putting it in a nut milk bag in a small mesh container like a strawberry punnet, and placing some weight on top it may drain off more liquid? Let's try it...

Allison Gelbron 4 September 2013 06:48   Best Blogger Tips

Sounds like a great recipe! It seems that you use a lot of the same ingredients and Miyoko Schinner. She published a book: Artisan Vegan Cheese. If you are really interested in making vegan cheese, take a look at it. A lot of her recipes involve culturing, so they take longer, but they're completely worth it. I will try this one and tell you how it went. ;)

india leigh 4 September 2013 14:30   Best Blogger Tips

@Allison Gelbron

Hi Allison,

thanks for stopping by. I hope you love the recipe. Yes, thanks for mentioning Miyoko. I have since reviewed her book and gone on to take one of her classes in America. I can testify her cheeses are very good! I love that the quality of vegan cheeses are improving all the time.
India :)

Keren 26 May 2014 07:03   Best Blogger Tips

This looks good! I've been making cashew cream soft cheeses for a while but never the hard cheddar. I think I might give this a go!

jjenjen 3 July 2014 07:54   Best Blogger Tips

@Laurlita so happy to find a non nut recipe , YAY , thankyou for sharing .Just one question though ... are you using cooked chickpeas or are they raw ? Also while I remeber to ask , could someone please point me in the direction of a homemade ice cheese please ? Thanks guys , Jenjen :)

india leigh 5 July 2014 07:50   Best Blogger Tips


Hello Jjenjen, thanks for stopping by. Sorry but this recipe does not contain chickpeas? Do you mean ice cream? Search google for vegan coconut ice cream. It is delicious and soy free. If you search my website I have a wonderful chocolate cardamon and a vanilla flavour. :)

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