February 20, 2013
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 Miyoko Schinner at the VegNews Web site. You can also visit Miyoko'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.