Why cheese needs milk
World Milk Day has been celebrated this week which gave us a timely reminder of why we really do love the creamy white stuff. More and more, milk is getting a bad reputation as we shift to an environmentally focused lens on our food and beverages. While we wholeheartedly agree that we need to reduce our consumption of certain products, we do think some things are still ok in moderation. Milk is one of these, with its nutritional benefits it’s a product that is hard to beat. Plus, without milk we can’t make cheese!!
We have had a few questions from time to time enquiring if our Fresh and Italian Cheese Kit recipes can be made with plant-based milks. The answer is no and let us explain a bit more as to why.
There are various different steps in cheese making, depending on what type of cheese is being made. However, the important ones where your milk really comes into play is the ripening and then separating your milk into curds and whey.
This is your step where you are heating the milk up to a nice warm temperature and adding your culture. The culture is predominantly lactic acid bacteria which turns the lactose sugar naturally present in the milk, into lactic acid. Lactose is the sugar that some people have trouble digesting and are therefore lactose intolerant. This is why the alternative of plant-based milks works well for lactose intolerant people, it contains no lactose.
Separating into curds and whey
The addition of rennet and the separation of curds and whey involves the acid produced by the bacteria (which requires lactose) as well as the milk proteins and fats. The rennet enzymes work together with the acid and create a tangled structure of milk proteins and fats, this is your curd. The leftover moisture and soluble proteins in the milk create the whey.
Once you have the curd you’re in business with your cheese making!
So for those asking, no you can’t use our Fresh or Italian Cheese Kits with plant based milk BUT you can take a look at our Vegan Cheese Kit.
This little wonder has been developed for those that are specifically avoiding milk but don’t want to miss out on the delights of cheese. Using raw nuts as the base there are recipes for Marinated Feta, Soft Mozzarella, Firm Mozzarella, Halloumi, Ricotta, Cream Cheese and Mascarpone. Each recipe is made to try and give our plant-based friends the best cheese possible, with the bonus of nutty goodness.
We hope you enjoy your milk or nutty cheese journey and make sure you get in touch with any questions or feedback on our kits. We love to hear what you think!