This Parmesan is almost as complex in its taste and texture as a true Parmegiano Reggiano is- salty, robust, and crumbly. One would be hard pressed to tell this vegan variant from its Italian counterpart. Except of course its color, which is a dark brown and not the pale creamy white that we are so used to. The color and primary flavor contributor is brown Miso paste, a fairly easy ingredient to find (I used barley miso).
The first step is to make yogurt cheese and is exceedingly simple once we have made the prerequisite non-dairy yogurt. The key to this transformation is the crass and comically named Nut Milk Bag. Its a simple Lycra (or similar) mesh bag with a draw string that we place the yogurt in and then suspend and drain overnight. What it does is drain the liquid away from the mass and give us some concentrated protein and fat mass, e.g. cheese. Just without flavor/culture. Voila. You have yogurt cheese.
The second part is 90% hands-off and ridiculously easy. Add a couple of ingredients and wait. And wait….and wait some more. The time this had to sit and develop without being able to touch it had an effect, not just on us, but on its flavor. This cheese required 10-14 days of just sitting and ripening. This is the place that most have problems, if they have any problems, that is. The trick to this is climate control. Miyoko advises to place the round or brick in a cool place with decent airflow. This was a problem for me. See, I made the mistake of starting this project in the middle of the biggest heat wave the northeast has seen in ages. Because of the heat wave, and the high tech and efficient cooling designs of the early 20th century depression-era construction, the coldest part of the our house dropped to the chillingly low temperature of 76 degrees. So obviously not quite cool enough. Miyoko recommends 55 to 60 degrees, which meant it took a bit for the mixture to dry and harden. This is where I got a little anxious and made the mistake that almost always happens to people that are supposed to be patient and wait for something; I started messing around and made things worse. To offset the still slightly damp exterior I salted the surface area a bit more than I should. Mistake. The cheese is perfectly acceptable and tastes delicious, but in my opinion its just a bit too salty, and it also made it kind of smell like a mall pretzel.
So as long as you heed the temps and keep your hands to yourself, you to can make your own delicious Vegan Parmesan!
Side note- Mel’s review: Weird. Odd color (brown), but delicious. It tasted like regular Parmesan, but with a bit more bite and tang. It had a similar texture to real Parmesan and seemed very grate-able for a pasta topping (or ingredient). Who knew what you could accomplish without milk???
Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- 2 cups Basic Yogurt Cheese
- 6 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- ¼ cup medium brown miso
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
Flavor the cheese.
- Put the Basic Yogurt Cheese, nutritional yeast, and miso in a medium bowl. Mix well.
Form the cheese.
- Put a piece of parchment paper over a drying rack. Gather the mixture into a ball and transfer it to the covered rack. Flatten it to form a brick or round about ½ inch thick.
Salt the cheese.
- Sprinkle about ¼ teaspoon of the salt evenly over the top.
Air-dry the cheese.
- Put the rack and cheese in a cool place with good air circulation.
- Let air-dry for 24 hours. The cheese will become somewhat firm, and the top will be dry enough that the cheese can be flipped over.
- Use the parchment paper to flip the cheese over directly onto the rack; discard the parchment paper.
- Wash your hands well, rinse them thoroughly, and while they are still wet, sprinkle the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt over your palms.
- Rub the salt over the top and sides of the cheese.
- Let air-dry for 10 to 14 days, flipping the cheese over every 2 days and checking daily for mold or other unwanted surface growth. If there’s any sign of mold or other growth, scrape or cut it off as soon as it appears and sprinkle a bit more salt on the surface.
- The cheese is ready when it is hard and quite dry throughout (slice and check).