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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:04 am 
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Hmm, what kind of agar did you use? Flakes or powder? Powder dissolves much easier than flakes. If you use flakes, cook them 15 minutes until they have fully dissolved in the water. If your mozz had little bits of hard agar, that sounds kind of like badly dissolved flakes.

You say you cooked the agar until it seemed smooth and glossy. When I make the mozz, the agar completely dissolves in the water and doesn't really look glossy, just transparent. The water/agar mixture is only slightly more viscous than normal water. It does congeal slightly more when I take it off the heat and pour it into the blender.

Did you chill your cashew mixture before blending it with the agar? Maybe if the cashew cheese is very cold when you add the dissolved agar, the agar might congeal too fast, also leaving you with hard bits of agar in the cheese.

If you use correctly dissolved agar, the cheese should also be more firm because the agar will be nicely distributed throughout the cheese, rather than concentrated in little hard lumps.

I don't know why your cheese had a chemical aftertaste. Did you taste it before adding the agar? If you think the agar caused the taste, try a different brand.

Hope this information helps you figure out what went wrong!

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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:24 am 
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Cornelie wrote:
Hmm, what kind of agar did you use? Flakes or powder? Powder dissolves much easier than flakes. If you use flakes, cook them 15 minutes until they have fully dissolved in the water. If your mozz had little bits of hard agar, that sounds kind of like badly dissolved flakes.

You say you cooked the agar until it seemed smooth and glossy. When I make the mozz, the agar completely dissolves in the water and doesn't really look glossy, just transparent. The water/agar mixture is only slightly more viscous than normal water. It does congeal slightly more when I take it off the heat and pour it into the blender.

Did you chill your cashew mixture before blending it with the agar? Maybe if the cashew cheese is very cold when you add the dissolved agar, the agar might congeal too fast, also leaving you with hard bits of agar in the cheese.

If you use correctly dissolved agar, the cheese should also be more firm because the agar will be nicely distributed throughout the cheese, rather than concentrated in little hard lumps.

I don't know why your cheese had a chemical aftertaste. Did you taste it before adding the agar? If you think the agar caused the taste, try a different brand.

Hope this information helps you figure out what went wrong!

Hi Cornelie,

Thanks for the prompt reply!

I used agar powder which I bought from the place Miyoko recommends in the back of the book, so I'm hoping that bad aftertaste just came from my ignorance with the recipe and not the brand of agar. Maybe I didn't cook it long enough, because it was not completely transparent when I poured it into the blender, but clearer than when I initially combined it with the water. So I guess I assumed it was clear enough to be done cooking. It was also still very thick and gooey (you mentioned yours being only slightly more viscous than water, but mine was very stiff/thick/sticky). Would it make any difference if I brought the water to a boil before adding the agar? I just added the agar to the cold water and let it all come to a boil, but maybe adding the agar to boiling water would help it dissolve better?

I didn't chill the cheese at all. It went straight from culturing on the counter to the blender. Oh, and yes, I did happen to taste it before adding the agar and it tasted fine. And the piece I got without any agar lumps tasted great and had no funny aftertaste, so that's why I assumed it was the agar giving it that bad flavor. Although I just made some sharp cheddar using the agar and it tasted just fine.


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:39 am 
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That's very strange. To me, it sounds like you did everything right, but you still you didn't have a good outcome. I do it the same way as you did, mixing agar with water and then bringing it to a boil. Are you sure you added the right amount of agar? Did a lot of water evaporate during the cooking? The agar mixture definitely should not be very stiff and thick after cooking, but liquid and pourable/easy to blend with the cashews.

Maybe someone else has wisdom to solve your mystery?

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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:01 pm 
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My agar wasn't pourable at all. I had to scrape it out of the pot and into the blender. A drop got on the counter and cooled there and when I picked it up, it felt like smooth rubbery plastic and was completely clear. I'm sure I added just 1 tablespoon of agar to the 2/3 cup water. Maybe I cooked it too long (like you said, maybe too much water evaporated)? Or maybe my burner was too hot... Hmmmmm....


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:41 pm 
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Just dug up the video that Miyoko put on the Artisan Vegan Cheese Facebook page about how to properly dissolve agar. If I remember correctly from this morning, I used hot tap water (thinking it wouldn't take as long to reach a boil, since I was trying to get it done before I headed to work). She says to only put it in cold water or it will set up too quickly. Which is exactly what happened to my mozzarella this morning. Phew! At least I know what I did wrong now. Next week, (edible) mozzarella is mine!! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:44 pm 
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ReadingVegan wrote:
My agar wasn't pourable at all. I had to scrape it out of the pot and into the blender. A drop got on the counter and cooled there and when I picked it up, it felt like smooth rubbery plastic and was completely clear. I'm sure I added just 1 tablespoon of agar to the 2/3 cup water. Maybe I cooked it too long (like you said, maybe too much water evaporated)? Or maybe my burner was too hot... Hmmmmm....


oh, it sounds like your agar had already set up! I think once agar sets, it doesn't set up again, so if it set up and then you blended it, i could see how there would be big chunks. I think you really just have to let it boil for a minute or so and then immediate pour it in and blend. If you can pour it in while the blender is going that's even better because it won't have a chance to solidify with the cool ingredients in the blender.

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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:28 am 
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I finally almost have rejuvelac, yay! Quinoa really does work like a charm. Has anyone let the grains sit longer then 3 days before straining them out and refrigerating the liquid? We keep taking little tastes of our rejuvelac and don't think it tastes tangy or lemony enough yet. As of this evening, it will be 3 days that we've let it sit, and the book says 1 to 3 days. Do you think 4 days would hurt anything?


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:43 am 
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beethecookie wrote:
I finally almost have rejuvelac, yay! Quinoa really does work like a charm. Has anyone let the grains sit longer then 3 days before straining them out and refrigerating the liquid? We keep taking little tastes of our rejuvelac and don't think it tastes tangy or lemony enough yet. As of this evening, it will be 3 days that we've let it sit, and the book says 1 to 3 days. Do you think 4 days would hurt anything?

I wouldn't think leaving it for 4 days would hurt much, but I will say that I don't think my quinoa Rejuvelac tasted lemony and it's not super tangy. To me, it smells like cottage cheese more than it tastes cheesy/tangy. That's how I knew mine was ready. Hope that helps!

Keep us posted! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:08 pm 
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Just wowed some more omni's and cheese loving vegetarians with the fondue. My in-laws celebrated an early Christmas party and I offered to bring the fondue sauce. There were various luxury dairy cheeses on the table too, but hardly anybody ate those. They all went for the cashew fondue. Awesome. Gonna do this again next year.

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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:21 pm 
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It's been a super long while since I've logged in and posted, but this book is changing that!

I made the brie and chevre for my Thanksvegan dinner. I followed the directions to THE MINUTE because I was so, so scared of getting someone (or myself) sick with bad rejuvelac or cultured-too-long cashews or whatever. I am really weird about fermentation. For some silly reason, my trusty Ninja did not blend the cashews as well as they could have and I was too stuck on the "cultured" flavor to really enjoy the cheeze. My friends, who rock and will try anything, said it was different but not bad.

I was determined to make the brie again. Brie was my favorite favorite cheese, so I was dying for this to work! This time around, I sort of forgot that the cashews were in the cupboard until, oh, 4 days later. I pulled them out and they smelled fermented and there was a little brown skin on top. I was a bit freaked, but still determined. I scraped the skin off and tasted the cashews, which seemed fine. I blended the heck out of them with the coconut oil and ended up with this lovely, smooth liquidy goodness. Since it set up and I got hooked on the flavor I have been adding it to EVERYTHING. Chili, sandwiches, toast, raw on a knife, etc. It's so good.

So, if at first you don't succeed...


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 11:05 pm 
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So 3.5 days seemed to do the trick! At long last, I have rejuvelac in my fridge! I'm rubbing my hands together now at the thought of all the cheeses I can make for the holidays... I'm soaking my cashews now!

Thanks for all the advice! It is so nice to have somewhere to turn when I have even the most seemingly random of questions!


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:01 am 
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Air dried cheddar. Was a bit meh at first, tasted of cashews and still a bit spreadable. Then I left it in the fridge for two weeks and now it's amazing. Texture and taste! My omni child is scoffing cheese and pickle sandwiches like they're going out of fashion.


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:30 pm 
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I got the book for chanukah. I started making my rejuvelac and made some yogurt right away, but my agar and carrageenan just arrived in the mail today. I now have some mozzarella culturing, and will have some fresh mozzarella by tonight!


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 12:57 am 
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I bought the book and I want to make cheeeeeese!

I am worried about one thing. Sprouts are often considered off limits for kids because of the potential for food poisoning. Does the same issue apply to rejuvelac? Are there any food safety concerns with these cheese such that I wouldn't want to serve them to my toddler?


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 6:16 am 
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I ambition to make a vegan ersatz of this tomorrow. I'll let you know.

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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 7:22 am 
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Emilie wrote:
I ambition to make a vegan ersatz of this tomorrow. I'll let you know.


How are you going to do it?


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 8:14 am 
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I got the idea the first time I had Natto, which sticky texture and smell reminded me of that cheese (and above all the smell -for it is the characteristic Herve is famous for...); so I bought Natto yesterday; so it will basically be a Nattopaté but I have to figure out the details (like a few agar agar for the texture, saffran for the color of the "crust", ...) Not sure yet!

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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:59 pm 
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So I've made five varieties of cheese this week, all from the book. Each cheese had a varying degree of success. For the tofu feta, I let it marinate for one full week, just like the book directs. Followed everything to a tee, rinsed it off to use it, and the texture is definitely that of feta. However, I can't seem to get past the fact that it now smells/tastes like miso. Strongly of miso. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not exactly screaming feta either.

Then there's the sharp cheddar. It set up very nicely, but the taste is probably our least favorite of all the ones I made. It's a little too noochy, maybe? Also, it's quite grainy, which I attributed to my lousy blender not completely pureeing the cashews.

I am currently aging the air-dried gouda, and it tastes great. Very gouda-y. The cheese itself is too creamy to air-dry on a rack, so I am drying it on a plate and flipping it once a day so it can get even air exposure. So the jury's still out on that one.

The smoked provolone is very, very yummy, but ended up being a cheese sauce for us. It didn't set up at all. We have plans to throw it into a mac and cheese and into our Christmas morning breakfast casserole, though. It tastes too good to let it go to waste!

Finally, the gruyere. My biggest success thus far! Delicious, creamy texture, perfect on crackers or just by itself. My husband said he could easily see himself eating the whole block! I did do the extra step to make the soft gruyere into a harder one, and it seemed to work beautifully.

The results are mixed, but overall I think I am encouraged to keep trying! It's a lot of trial and error. Oh, and one more thing: I used the tofu feta in Miyoko's Spanakopita, and it worked really well in there!


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:45 pm 
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When my cheeses are too wet to dry on a rack I put a muslin cloth over the rack with the cheese on it until it gets dry enough to go on the rack on it's own. I have also found that if I let it air dry for the specified time and then transfer to the fridge it will harden more over the next week or so... But I have to wrap it in grease proof paper and then put it in a non-plastic container (a pyrex dish with plastic lid) or it starts to taste of hairspray.


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:50 pm 
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hi Cgvegan,

what is grease proof paper? is that a UK specialty?

thanks!
Cgvegan wrote:
When my cheeses are too wet to dry on a rack I put a muslin cloth over the rack with the cheese on it until it gets dry enough to go on the rack on it's own. I have also found that if I let it air dry for the specified time and then transfer to the fridge it will harden more over the next week or so... But I have to wrap it in grease proof paper and then put it in a non-plastic container (a pyrex dish with plastic lid) or it starts to taste of hairspray.


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:52 pm 
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My mozzarella was not the screaming success I was hoping for. Firstly, it doesn't taste of much of anything. I blame this on being so worried I would let it culture too long that I didn't let it culture long enough. So I know what to do differently next time. But the texture is off. It is far too creamy. I followed all of the directions, and it seemed to set immediately in the brine, so I'm not sure if it came out wrong, or if it came out how it should and I just don't like it. I know Miyoko said the recipe in vegnews was an improvement on the one in the book, so should I just try to get my hands on that recipe?

I didn't want it to go to waste, so I blended it with some basil, chives, and a bit of salt to make an herbed cream cheese sort of deal. That came out awesome, and I had it on toast with fresh tomatoes and balsamic glaze.


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:41 pm 
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lululuv wrote:
hi Cgvegan,

what is grease proof paper? is that a UK specialty?

thanks!
Cgvegan wrote:
When my cheeses are too wet to dry on a rack I put a muslin cloth over the rack with the cheese on it until it gets dry enough to go on the rack on it's own. I have also found that if I let it air dry for the specified time and then transfer to the fridge it will harden more over the next week or so... But I have to wrap it in grease proof paper and then put it in a non-plastic container (a pyrex dish with plastic lid) or it starts to taste of hairspray.


I'm sure you have it too, baking paper? Parchment? You can put it under your cookies, its brown!


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:08 pm 
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got it - thank you!

Cgvegan wrote:
lululuv wrote:
hi Cgvegan,

what is grease proof paper? is that a UK specialty?

thanks!
Cgvegan wrote:
When my cheeses are too wet to dry on a rack I put a muslin cloth over the rack with the cheese on it until it gets dry enough to go on the rack on it's own. I have also found that if I let it air dry for the specified time and then transfer to the fridge it will harden more over the next week or so... But I have to wrap it in grease proof paper and then put it in a non-plastic container (a pyrex dish with plastic lid) or it starts to taste of hairspray.


I'm sure you have it too, baking paper? Parchment? You can put it under your cookies, its brown!


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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:27 pm 
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Cornelie wrote:
Just wowed some more omni's and cheese loving vegetarians with the fondue. My in-laws celebrated an early Christmas party and I offered to bring the fondue sauce. There were various luxury dairy cheeses on the table too, but hardly anybody ate those. They all went for the cashew fondue. Awesome. Gonna do this again next year.


Oh Cashew fondue! They serve one somewhere in Den Haag: is it the same kind? :)

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 Post subject: Re: Artisan Vegan Cheese
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 8:12 pm 
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As far as I remember, cow milk mozzarella tastes of nothing, too. Not sure if I had ever tried buffalo milk mozzarella.


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