No Vegan Cheese Please

I tend to try any new food I have the opportunity to sample. For example sea urchin (delicious), grasshoppers (not bad), scorpions (better than the candy it was in), durian (pretty good), and Japanese mountain potato (very stringy and sticky).

Often, I find new favorites like sea urchin. Sometimes however, I ended up eating things that taste truly awful. Most of the truly awful foods are what I call faux foods. Things masquerading around as something else entirely. Think any vegetarian “meat” or vegan “cheese”.

When the technique behind making these “cheeses” is explained it becomes pretty obvious why their taste and texture is so horrid:

Those gums replace the casein, working as “emulsifiers” and “stabilizers” to hold the other ingredients together, according to Crowe. (The other ingredients include a protein base like soy or rice, water, oil, starches, flavors and colors.)

Emulsifiers like amino acids actively hold water-rich and fat-rich ingredients together. Stabilizers like carrageenan and xanthan gum, “act as a wall in between the [water-based and oil-based ingredients] to keep the two from mixing,” Crowe says.

In both cases the goal is to keep the vegan cheese from separating and producing, “a pool of watery stuff and pool of oily stuff sitting around a sticky mess of ‘solids’ stuff,” as Gordon puts it. (Those of you who tried your college roommate’s vegan cheese pizza in the 90s may remember this unpleasant phenomenon.)

Full article: Cracking The Code: Making Vegan Cheese Taste Cheesier : The Salt : NPR.

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