Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Don't Bother With Vegan Cheese This Cinco De Mayo

Image via Flickr.
This Saturday is Cinco De Mayo.

Many of you will be celebrating with cerveza and some tasty Mexican snacks, namely nachos. If that is indeed your plan, we have one tiny suggestion: nix the vegan cheese.

We're not saying you should eat regular cheese but we just don't think vegan cheese is at the point where it can really substitute for the yellow gooeyness that is nacho cheese. We're not the only ones either.

In the NPR story, Cracking the Code, Making Vegan Cheese Taste Cheesier, author Rachel Estebrook tries to figure out why vegan cheese just doesn't compete with the original.

The story highlights the difficulty of producing cheese-like products from veggie sources. The problem mostly lies in trying to replicate the natural casein found in cheese. Food scientist John Gordon explained why casein is so important.
"(Casein is) a truly remarkable protein like nothing else on the planet, and it allows real cheese to melt and stretch."
It's that melting and stretching that vegan cheese makers struggle to duplicate. They run the risk of making cheese that's too gummy, dry or oily. They can't perfectly replicate the way that cheese reacts to heat and, in many cases, can't control its consistency. This makes for runny, chewy or watery cheese.

So since vegan cheese isn't perfected yet, just don't go there. Instead, focus on all of the wonderful naturally-vegan ingredients that can enhance your Mexican feast. Try making fresh salsa or black bean dip. Instead of gooey cheese, make some creamy guacamole. Mmmm.

Whatever your plans are, we hope you have a muy bueno Cinco de Mayo, with queso or without!

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