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Mozzarella-Style Cheese Recipe

The plant-based cheesemaking sector is rapidly growing and evolving, which is why we are so excited for the release of the second edition of The Art of Plant-Based Cheesemaking: How to Craft Real, Cultured, Non-Dairy Cheese. With new methods and recipes, this book takes vegan cheesemaking to a new level.

Today on the blog, we take an excerpt from The Art of Plant-Based Cheesemaking, where Karen McAthy shares her recipe for Mozzarella-Style Cheese.

Excerpt from the book The Art of Plant-Based Cheesemaking

Mozzarella is a mild flavored cheese, which, in traditional cheesemaking, is due to the short culturing time frame and thus, relatively low acidity. Mozzarella, like most short cultured, or fresh, cheeses, relies very much on the quality of the milk for its flavor. Balls of fresh mozzarella, rather than the shreds found in bags, tend to pool and settle when they melt, versus the dramatic stretchiness that is often associated with the shredded mozzarella.

Plant-based mozza alternatives usually focus on the so-called meltability or stretchiness of a mozzarella. Most of the commercially available plant-based mozza alternatives are attempting to replicate the shredded mozza often found in bags in grocery stores. This style of mozza (dairy or plant-based) does not reflect fresh mozzarella sold in soft balls either vacuum sealed or in brine. The recipe below is intended to be made into balls of mozza or bocconcini (of whatever size you like).

Mozzarella-Style Cheese

Ingredients

  • Heavy cast sauce pot
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Metal whisk
  • Silicone or wooden spoon
  • Container for holding the setting fluid (Ensure this is large enough for the amount of cheeze you want to set, and keep in mind that as you add cheeze to the setting fluid, it will displace the fluid, causing the level to rise.)
  • Bamboo mat or wooden board

Ingredients

  • 2 cups coconut milk, high fat (or oat, almond, rice, or cashew milk)
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • ½ cup tapioca starch (or modified tapioca starch or white rice flour)
  • 1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tsp salt (adjust to your preference)
  • 3 tsp–1 Tbsp agar agar powder

Optional: 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast or miso if you want a bit more umami

Setting brine: Place 5 cups water in a bowl, add ½ cup olive oil and 1 tsp salt and place in
the freezer for 30 mins or fridge for 1 hour. Keep in fridge until your cheese mixture is ready.

Method

  1. Combine coconut milk (or plant milk of choice), coconut cream, starch, agar agar, salt, and vinegar in a blender, and blend on low speed until well combined. You may also do this in a bowl with a whisk.
  2. Place the mixture into the heavy cast pot on the stovetop. Turn the heat on low, and begin heating the mixture slowly. Whisk the mixture as it begins to heat to ensure that the starch and agar agar, which are dense, do not sink to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Gradually increase the temperature to medium, and allow the mixture to come to a slow boil. As the mixture thickens, large bubbles should rise to the surface and pop.
  4. Remember that agar agar needs to be heated to 185°F (85°C) and maintained at that temperature for at least 5 minutes to be fully activated. Do not rush this period.

    Continue to whisk or stir, and pay attention to how the mixture feels while you are doing so. Is it thickening and offering more resistance? Is it still feeling very loose?
    • If it gets too thick too quickly, the agar agar may not activate fully, and this will result in a mozza that sets as gummy, rather than firm with a little bounce back.
    • If it is feeling too thick too quickly, whisk in a little water or more plant milk. If it is feeling too loose even after 15 minutes of heating, add a little more agar agar and or starch to absorb moisture. If you do so, pre-measure the dry material and mix with a small amount of moisture to make a slurry, and add the slurry into the hot mixture. This will ensure that it does not clump. Whisk vigorously after adding the slurry.
  5. After the mixture has heated up for at least 15 minutes and has become thick enough to offer resistance while stirring:
    1. Use the spatula to scrape the mixture into a mold to hold the mixture in shape asit sets. If you use a silicone mold, you don’t need to line it with cheesecloth. If you use a ring mold or springform pan, line it with cheesecloth (doubled up to ensure the weave is tight). If you use an open-ended ring mold, make sure you have the mold and cheesecloth set on a wooden board or other smooth firm surface that can be moved with the cheeze on top. Allow the cheese to cool in the cheesecloth-lined molds in the refrigerator. Once the cheese has fully cooled, you will be able to handle it, and if you choose, you will be able to remove the cheese from the forms and hand mold it into balls. You can then store the balls in a seasoned or flavored brine in a sealed container.
    2. Allow the mixture to cool in the pot until very thick and easy to handle by hand. Use a scoop or measuring cup to measure out portions of the cheeze and drop each into the chilled water/oil/salt mixture that you had put in the fridge before starting the recipe. This will cause the cheeze to set relatively quickly in rounder shapes, which you can continue to gently mold into the classic mozzarella ball shape. Allow the balls to cool in the chilled water mixture for up to 20 minutes before removing.
    3. After the balls of cheeze have cooled (at least 20 minutes), remove them from the setting brine and lay them on a bamboo mat or cheesecloth and allow them to dry for up to 2 hours before you then store the balls of cheese in a seasoned brine, which can be a new batch of brine with your choice of herbs and spices added to it. You can refer to the section on brining in chapter 6 for guidance on how to make a light brine for storage.

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