We love, love, love plant-based food around here; and if there is one thing the markets are exploding with lately -- it’s dairy-free cheeses. It’s a hot topic too among vegans and omnivores. Whenever the subject of eating a vegan diet comes up it’s inevitable to hear people say, “but I could never give up cheese!” Well, now you really don’t have to.
There are a few types of plant-based cheeses. One style comes in blocks like their dairy counterparts -- think cheddar, mozzarella and monterey jack. Another style is made into spreads that come in small tubs like dips usually do. We gathered four different brands of the second type, and did a taste test in our Good Health Vibes kitchen.
Dairy-free cheeses are made with fermented nuts, seeds, or both, but it’s hard to tell those ingredients just through the taste. These cheeses stand alone in texture, taste, and versatility. You can eat them with crackers, bread, veggies, or on pasta or rice. They’re a really great addition to any meal, party or gathering and a huge benefit to anyone lactose intolerant.
1. Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spread in Chive: Made from almond milk. Kite Hill spread has a very nice texture -- not too soft, not too firm. The texture is nearly identical to dairy cream cheeses, perfect for spreading on toast or a bagel. Excellent flavor of chive without being overpowering. The crowd favorite.
2. Cultured Kitchen - Herbs & Chives Cashew Reserve: This is a soft, dip-like cheese, it’s flavorful but relatively mild, everyone agreed. Lots of versatility with this texture, it would be great slathered on pasta, a sandwich, or spiralized noodles. We loved it.
3. Pamela Creamery Creamy nut cheese - Original Flavor: Ingredients from cashews and coconut oil. Tasted rather sweet like sunflower butter or tahini, although it contained neither ingredient. Firm and thick to spread on a cracker, almost sticky and the flavor just wasn’t what we were looking for in a cheese.
4. Miyoko’s - Double Cream Chive: Made from cashews, coconut oil, and miso. While the packaging was beautiful, we didn’t think the vacuum-sealed plastic was practical for storage. The texture was firm, the flavors were strong. For those who enjoy robust flavors, like English stilton, this would be great on crackers.