So, imagine my joy when I discovered that you can buy - prepackaged! - vegan cheese, or cheeze with a 'z' as is the way with the world of vegan food. Redwood and Bute Island (there's is called Sheese, as in, sheese, this stuff isn't bad! Or maybe not.) both make some great hard cheezes, flavoured like Parmesan, Cheddar, Blue and a more melty Mozzarella.
To be completely honest, whilst they do a good job of fooling the eyes that, yes, your pizza or spaghetti bolognese really does have grated cheese on it, they don't have the taste nor the texture of true cheese. This is to be expected. The cheeze is made without any dairy produce. As we all know, dairy produce gives you a rich, and, well, dairy flavour. It also can give you high cholesterol, weight gain etc. In a pinch, these pre-packed vegan cheezes are OK and, if you didn't tell your strictly carnivorous neighbour, he might not guess.
So, what's the alternative?
As someone who is always looking to make the best of a meal with her the ingredients of her own cupboard, rather than using pre-made, I went a-(vegan)hunting. And, thanks to VegNews 13 Most Decadent Recipes ever, I was firstly directed to Erin at Olives for Dinner with her delicious Deep-Fried Vegan Macaroni Cheese and then her Vegan Grilled Cheese. As if this wasn't enough, the aforementioned VegNews also encouraged me to make my OWN Artisan Vegan Cheese, courtesy of Miyoko Schinner.
There are several steps to vegan cheesemaking, but they all start with Rejuvelac. Rejuvelac is a liquid made from sprouting whole grains in water. It contains probiotics and nutrients and is great for vegans or those on a raw food diet who feel that cooking removes some of the important enzymes from raw food.
In cheesemaking, Rejuvelac simply replaces the dairy by-products (along with the help of nuts and sometimes soy milk) by souring the dairy replacement, giving you the seductive cheese "tang".
|You can see the little groats starting to sproat...I mean sprout.|
The procedure is simple but a little time consuming, insomuch as you have to wait a little while to eat your cheese but you firstly need a cup of whole grains just covered with water in a large bowl. Leave for anything between 12-36 hours for the grains to sprout. I used raw oat groats mixed with quinoa. The next morning they had already started to sprout.
Drain the grains thoroughly, transfer to a large jar and cover with 4 cups of water. Cover the mouth of the jar with cheesecloth and leave for another 36 hours until the water becomes cloudy and has a taste of lemon juice. This cloudy liquid is your Rejuvelac! Drain into a clean jar and refrigerate. It is now ready to use!