Sharp Cheddar (sort of) from Artisan Vegan Cheese

Recipes don't always work. This one didn't, but we're posting it anyway as part of our review of Miyoko Schinner's Artisan Vegan Cheese, because it illustrates a good point: the recipes in this book look beautifully simple but there's a whole lot of culturing, gelling, drying and other processes going on which aren't that simple to master. Disaster is never far away.

There are basically three sorts of cheeses in the book - regular, meltable and air-dried. We tried out the regular 'sharp cheddar' recipe (not meltable, not air-dried) but our results are nothing like Miyoko's. That brown, grainy (and soft) stuff in the photos is nothing remotely like cheddar cheese.

Here's where we think we went wrong:

Colour: we used dark-brown miso instead of medium-brown miso which made the cheese dark, and this was exaggerated with overcooking it (see below) and it went darker again in the fridge. We couldn't get hold of medium-brown miso, but that brown is very unappetising so we think we'll look again before our next attempt.

Heating: the carrageenan gelling agent needs heating to 70C to become soluble and mix with the blended cashews. The book describes this as heating for 3-5 minutes, but doesn't stress 'not more than this'. Our cheese suddenly went grainy right after the 5 minute mark, but maybe the heat was also too high. The gelling went wrong, gelled in clumps and this basically expelled all of the oil from the mix which then ran to the bottom of the pan. The cheese could still be moulded to shape, but the graininess is very odd.

Don't make the same mistakes... that's another fiver's worth of cashews gone...

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