Last Updated : Mar 19,2018
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For those who are strictly vegetarian, rennet an enzyme responsible for the conversion of milk into cheese is a definite no-no as it is derived from the stomach tissue of a slaughtered calf. Microbial enzymes which perform the same tasks as rennet does is created in a lab to make vegetarian cheese. Today this process is followed in the making of almost all commercial cheese as it is a consistent and inexpensive coagulant. Some soft cheeses like cream and cottage are manufactured without rennet but may contain gelatin which is of animal origin. Do read the labels of products carefully before buying them especially if you are particular about the sourcing of your food.
Chopped vegetarian cheese
Place the cheese slab on a chopping board and chop it into small pieces. Can be finely or roughly chopped into big chunks as per the recipe requirement.
Grated vegetarian cheese
This requires grating the cheese slabs on a hand held grater. This grated cheese is fine in texture and is used for making baked dishes like au gratin or casseroles.
Shredded vegetarian cheese
Pass the cheese through a shredder and separate the thin slices into shreds with fingers. Alternatively, you may buy packaged shredded cheese.
Sliced vegetarian cheese
You may place the cheese in a slicer or slice the cheese in thin or thick slices with a sharp knife, as per the recipe requirement.
Vegetarian cheese cubes
Turn the block of cheese on its side and make a series of slices. Lay the cheese slices on top of each other and make a series of lengthwise slices, (½ inch slices for smaller cubes, 1 inch slices for larger cubes). Make a series of ½ inch or 1 inch crosswise cuts through the cheese and it will fall away into cubes.
How to select
• Although vegetarian cheese can be found in many forms like cubes, slabs or slices, it is better to purchase a wedge of cheese, as the wedge will retain moisture and freshness.
• When selecting a wedge of cheese, try to taste cheese from that wheel, if possible.
• Most reputable cheese dealers will provide you with a small sample, which you should roll around in your mouth so that all of your taste buds can sense the flavor.
• high quality vegetarian cheese will have a yellowish brown colour and a distinct flavour with a mildly crunchy feeling.
• If it is not possible to taste the cheese, look for a wedge with even color, and no signs of cracking, excessive dryness, or moisture.
• Popular as a snack option, vegetarian cheese can also be used to flavour soups and salads.
• Any recipe that requires cheese as an ingredient can be replaced with vegetarian cheese, for example, mashed potatoes, shepherd's pie, macaroni and cheese and casseroles, omelettes, pizza, soufflés, au gratins, fondues etc, to name a new.
• When toasted between bread with vegetables like tomato and cucumber vegetarian cheese tastes delicious.
How to store
• All cheeses, regardless of variety, should be well wrapped and kept in the warmest section of the refrigerator (The refrigerator door is often one of the warmest spots).
• As storage life is related to the moisture content of the cheese, the softer the cheese, the shorter amount of time it will keep fresh.
• Regardless of the type of milk used to create it, vegetarian cheese is a concentrated source of the nutrients naturally found in milk, including calcium.
• The one nutritional drawback of reduced-fat cheeses is that they are usually higher in sodium than full-fat natural cheeses.
• The vegetarian cheese also contains a large amount of other essential nutrients such as phosphorous, zinc, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and vitamin A.
• It is also a dense source of high quality protein.
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