February 20, 2013

Artisan Vegan Cheese — air-dried smoked provolone


After making the cheese multiple times, I finally got around to air-drying the smoked provolone from Artisan Vegan Cheese instead of just eating it as soon as it cooled. It requires patience, you know, to let it cure for two-to-three days, and I prefer instant gratification, but I really wanted to try air-drying a cheese. The smoked provolone is relatively easy to make, which is one of the reasons I like it so much, but it also tastes really great, and is perfect on crackers or even melted on nachos. Yes, even though I use agar agar and not carrageenan, it melts when I heat it, and it tastes like ... cheese. I also reduced the oil to 1/4 cup and used olive oil, and I added a pinch of turmeric.


The thing that finally inspired me to air-dry a round of cheese was a little brie baker I found in a resale shop. I'd never heard of a brie-baker, but it looked like the perfect size for a cheese mold. It even had a lid. I could fit about half a recipe into it while having the other half to eat right away. The cheese filled the whole thing when it first went in, but in the photo I'm showing you how much it shrank after air-drying on the rack for two days.


Here's my cheese, in a light coating of salt, drying on the rack. I have a little confession to make; I still haven't made rejuvelac — I made my cheese with filtered water. (Before I bought my cookbook, I used a sample recipe that said, "rejuvelac or water," but I can't remember where I saw it and I can't seem to find it.) I still plan to make rejuvelac because I want to make the cheese the "right" way, but so far the water has worked well, though it must make the cheese milder than rejuvelac.  Just seeing the photos again has got me craving a wedge of smoked provolone. I'm going to start some rejuvelac TODAY!

I own the Artisan Vegan Cheese cookbook, but if you don't yet have a copy and want to try out a sample recipe, look up the book on Amazon where you can look inside and see some of the recipes. There are also a few recipes in the Sept.-Oct. 2012 issue of VegNews Magazine. You can read cheese-making tips from Miyoki Schinner at the VegNews Web site. You can also visit Miyoki's blog, where she offers cheese-making tips as well as non-cheese vegan recipes. Even if you have the book, it's worthwhile to check the blog for updates to the recipes.

I actually like the vegan cheeses better than I ever liked dairy cheese. Go figure.

28 comments:

  1. Ahhhhhhhh! I need that recipe!!!

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  2. That looks great and I especially like your new technique of having some to eat right away AND some prepared the "right" way. It's been so long since I've had provolone I wonder if I'd even recognize it? I'm addicted to Dr. Cow, but at $10-14 for a small wheel, the cookbook might be money better spent.

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    1. I know what you mean about recognition. That's why I feed it to omnivores to see what they think. But, why does it matter if it's exactly like dairy cheese if it tastes good and we vegans like it? I've not tried Dr. Cow, so I can't compare, but I like the smoked provolone a lot. The problem isn't taste, it's patience.

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  3. Your cheese turned out beautifully! Mine cracked terribly during the air-drying process, but yours is smooth and lovely. Do you have a secret for preventing cracks on the surface? Maybe my apartment is too damp...

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    1. Nope. This was my first air-dried cheese and I just did what I was told. There are some small cracks on the bottom, but maybe the size of the cheese matters. Mine was pretty small — 5" in diameter and 2" high.

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    2. I was lucky enough to meet Miyoko today! She mentioned you can dry the cheeses in the fridge! I'll try this, since mine also crack a lot when left out, although they still taste dynomite.

      xo
      kittee

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    3. I FEEL like I've met Miyoko, but of course I haven't. At least I don't think I have. :) Probably just watched so many videos and reviewed all her books. I wonder if the cheese ripens more slowly in the fridge. Maybe I'll dry one in the fridge and one on the counter and have a race!

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  4. The wonders of kitchenware that I never knew existed will never cease. Glad you found a delicious use for it.

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    1. I didn't know that people baked brie or that there were special little crocks to bake it in. How are we supposed to know these things? The little dish is indispensable, though, right?

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  5. That air-dried provolone looks really impressive! I made several of her cheeses, as you know, and then I kind of burnt out on it. As luck would have it, though, I just bought a big bag of raw cashews... I see some provolone in my future!

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    1. Your post inspired me to finally post this, though the cheese is long gone. I know what you mean about getting burnt out — so much planning and waiting. I wish though, that I had some drying on a rack as I type, but I'm out of agar agar and the stuff is so expensive. I want to make chèvre and mozzarella.

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  6. OMG, I absolutely must have this!! And you have no idea how happy you've made me with your confession about rejuvelac--something about it just scares me. Now I'm off to get my recipes together! Looks amazing.

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    1. I used to make rejuvelac back in the "olden days" as a by-product of sprouting wheat, but I never used it as a fermenting agent. I know I saw a version of the provolone recipe that said "rejuvelac or water," but I can't find it anywhere. I also reduced the oil to 1/4 cup and used olive oil instead of canola.

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  7. It looks so good! I got this book but haven't had a chance to make anything from it yet. Realllly need to get on that!

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    1. Try something really easy, like cream cheese. The recipes aren't a lot of work, but they do require patience!

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  8. JINX! I've got some of this air drying in my kitchen right now. It doesn't look half as good as yours - it's gone sort of crusty rather than smooth. Still, it tastes fantastic though.

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    1. Think of the crust as a rind. It's OK for cheese to have a rind, isn't it? I added a little turmeric to mine to make it prettier. :)

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  9. I've got to get that cookbook, it seems like everyone has it already. The cheese looks awesome! Good to know agar agar works as I thought carrageenan was "bad".

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    1. I'm uncomfortable with carrageenan. I've been reading negative stuff about agar agar lately but am still using it — for now.

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  10. Replies
    1. This is not dairy cheese. It's vegan, and made from nuts, seeds, soy and other vegan ingredients. It's fermented and tastes like cheese, but is not made from animal products.

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  11. Looks like it turned out well. I'll have to try this one since I love anything smokey. But after my review, I have a fridge full of vegan cheese to use up, lol, so it will be a few weeks.

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    1. I know what you mean! I still have cream cheese in the fridge (the recipe makes a lot!) but I wouldn't mind a few more varieties on hand. Your review of the chèvre has me intrigued.

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  12. Everything I've seen out of that book has looked so amazing. I think it's time for me to get it too!

    Beautiful!

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    1. That's what I kept saying just before I bought the book! :)

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  13. rejuvelac is so easy! i recommend making it with quinoa. it's much faster than the time they say in the book. (and way way faster than when i tried with brown rice) while i haven't tried the cheese without, i have to imagine it adds more flavor and helps with the culturing. it's got a nice refreshing tangy (almost lemony) flavor when it's done.

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    1. I would definitely use quinoa if I made rejuvelac. Thanks for the inspiration!

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