June 11, 2022

VEGAN RECIPE REVIEW: Mozzarella! (Part 1)

This whole thing has been a bit of a nightmare, and I had this post typed out and ready to go--I just had to add the finished product of the recipe and my thoughts about it. Unfortunately, that will have to wait until tomorrow because I ran into some more problems. For such a simple recipe, I really managed to screw it up turn it into a big production! So, here is part one and I'll write the verdict tomorrow after I'm able to actually try the vegan mozzarella.

When I started eating a vegan diet in January, I thought that cheese was going to be really difficult to give up. I've never been a huge meat eater, but I ate a lot of dairy--and cheese was a staple. Honestly, though, I haven't missed it at all. Not even once. I've even made pizza a couple of times and I just pile on veggies or other toppings and I don't feel like it's missing cheese at all.

Because I haven't missed it, I never really found a desire to buy vegan "cheese". As I was looking at vegan recipes, though, I got very curious about what exactly is vegan cheese and how on earth is it made from things like cashews and tapioca starch and nutritional yeast?

I looked at this mozzarella-making as an experiment and to learn a little about how all of it works together.

I read through about a trillion recipes for vegan cheese and I ultimately settled on Real Vegan Mozzarella Cheese from Vegan Blueberry. (I'll link to it again at the end of the post.) I picked this recipe because it's supposedly sliceable, shreddable, and meltable. It seemed like the best one to pick for an experiment. And it had lots of great reviews!

I was surprised by a lot of the vegan cheese recipes because they don't have many ingredients. In this one: raw cashews, refined coconut oil, tapioca flour, kappa carrageenan, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, and boiling water.

I find it funny that I swore I wasn't going to use "weird" ingredients in vegan recipes and here I am using tapioca flour, kappa carrageenan, and nutritional yeast! Because of a couple of other recipes I made previously, I already had everything except for the kappa carrageenan (I didn't even know what it was) so I ordered it from Amazon. It looks just like the tapioca flour--a very fine, white, airy powder.

I didn't know this, but refined coconut oil (versus virgin coconut oil) has a neutral flavor. I've always bought virgin coconut oil because I like the hint of coconut flavor (on sourdough toast, it's heavenly!). In mozzarella, though, you don't want coconut flavor so it calls for refined oil.

Making the mozzarella couldn't be easier, really. You just dump the ingredients in a blender and blend the heck out of it as quickly as possible. So simple! But this is where I ran into a big problem.

I have two blenders: one is just a regular Oster blender, nothing fancy, and the other is a NutriBullet super powerful blender for shakes and smoothies and stuff like that. The NutriBullet works upside down; you put the ingredients into a large plastic cup, screw on the blade, flip the whole thing over and push it into the base.

This has worked really well for the recipes that I've made calling for cashew cream. Apparently, a regular blender won't get to all of the little bits of cashews, but the NutriBullet worked great. The cups are very large, so I wouldn't have a problem fitting the ingredients into it.

First, you run the cashews under water or soak them in hot water to soften them and get rid of the cashew taste. Then you put the cashews in the blender, followed by everything else except for the boiling water. The recipe stressed that you have to do it very quickly from that point--when the water boils, you pour it into the blender with the other ingredients, put on the lid, and blend until totally smooth. Then you pour it into a mold right away.

The NutriBullet was a little more difficult to do quickly because you have to screw the blade onto the cup and then flip it over. So, when you put in the powdered ingredients, they stick to the bottom of the cup, which is furthest from the blade. Usually, I would add the liquid first so that it doesn't happen, but with this recipe you have to add the water last, just before starting the blender.

Here's where the real disaster occurred...

Something I never thought about before was that the NutriBullet is extremely airtight; and that's super dangerous when using hot liquids. I've never blended hot liquids before, so it didn't even occur to me, but using hot liquids in an airtight sealed blender causes pressure to build up and with nowhere for it to go, the blender can literally explode. (There was actually a class-action lawsuit against NutriBullet in 2017 because of people getting severe burns when their NutriBullet exploded.)

When I stopped the blender, it was hard to unscrew the lid, but the second it came loose, it was like I had uncorked a bottle of champagne. The blade piece flew off the cup and the boiling hot liquid splattered the front of my shirt. I'm super lucky that the blade didn't cut me or the liquid didn't get on my skin. (The bonus of wearing a hoodie year-round, haha)

This is what the texture looked like at that point:

The mozzarella in the cup was still usable, so I poured it into a dish/mold and put it in the fridge to cool and firm up. I started putting the ingredients and dishes away when I noticed I forgot to include the lemon juice! After reading about the importance of acids in food a couple of weeks ago, I knew it wasn't an ingredient I could skip. I certainly couldn't put it back in the blender at this point, so I hoped it would still be okay if I stirred it in really well. And that's what I did.

I checked on it several hours later, and it had the texture of very thick pudding. Definitely not able to remove from the mold and slice or shred it. I hoped it would be ready the next day (which was today). The texture hadn't changed at all--it was still like a very thick pudding. I was so bummed! This was from this morning:

Because of the disaster when making it yesterday, I figured I had probably done something wrong (well, other than nearly exploding my blender in my face). I wasn't sure if it was the blender issue or adding the lemon juice after it was blended or something else, but I wanted to try it again.

This time, I used the Oster blender--it's not powerful, but at least it wouldn't explode!

I was very careful to measure everything perfectly--and not forget anything. Once I had the ingredients in there, I poured in the boiling water, quickly put on the lid, and blended on high speed. Immediately, it was super thick and I could see it was going to be a problem getting everything to blend together. I stopped the blender, very quickly scraped down the sides, then started it again. I repeated that again, and then I saw that the texture was totally different this time.

This was halfway through blending:

While it wasn't as smooth as when I made it in the NutriBullet, it was stretchy and sticking together like melted cheese. It was clear that I messed up the recipe yesterday because the two batches were nothing alike. I poured it into a mold (just a 2-cup Pyrex container) and put it in the fridge.

At this point, it's in the fridge and it's still firming up. I won't be able to try it tonight, but I am going to use it tomorrow (hopefully slicing and shredding and melting, just to see how it works) and then publish part two of this post. So this will be continued...

The full recipe for this Real Vegan Mozzarella can be found at Vegan Blueberry.

1 comment:

  1. I've heard about people being burned from that kind of blender and was super worried when you said you were using it. I'm glad you didn't get hurt from it!


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