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Homemade Dairy-Free, Soy-Free “Processed” Cheese

Okay, let’s just address this upfront.  “Say whaaa? ;-)

Well, there is a very big NEED for gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free cheese slices and I can’t seem find a commercial one anywhere!  I got excited the other day when I found some “cheese” that looked like it would fit the bill perfectly BUT then (there’s always a but, isn’t there?), I flipped it over and read the ingredient label: casein (milk protein):

Is it just me, or does that make about as much sense as adding gluten to rice bread??

So, since Luke recently tested positive for anti-casein antibodies, I’ve now found myself seemingly back at square one, just like when I was handed my celiac walking papers 5 years ago and having no idea what I would be eating for the rest of my life (only with a much better attitude!).

Most things are easily tweaked to be dairy-free, well, everything except cheese!  Add to that dilemma, I try to avoid soy at all costs (not because of an allergy, but because my mom is a breast cancer survivor and any added estrogen freaks me out).

Luke’s new preschool also has strict guidelines for snack time, and each snack has to be low in sugar and contain a protein.  While I think this is great, their primary suggestion was cheese.  I am thankful that he does not go to a peanut/tree-nut free school, because I would not have all the nut butters to fall back on and while I have a great homemade beef jerky recipe, I’d rather not send meat for every snack!

Enter my life motto: “where there is a will, there must be a way,” (it’s just a matter of finding it)!

When I stumbled across an out-of-print cookbook on Amazon called Make Your Own Convenience Foods by Don and Joan German, I just had to order it.  The tag line of the book is “How to make chemical-free foods that are fast, simple and economical.”

The cookbook is something of a “Back to the Future” time capsule and politically correct, it is not!

I suppose we would fall into the “invalid” group, LOL!

This cookbook has all sorts of crazy recipes that can be easily tweaked to fit one’s particular dietary restrictions.  There are recipes for “Gee Whiz,” (Cheez Whiz), bologna, “Lecithin Pan Coating,” which is a non-stick spray, so you could make your own non-stick spray with Sunflower Lecithin (instead of soy) AND…

There is even a recipe for “Extended Butter” which I presume is a margarine.  So for folks that are corn-free (but not dairy-free), you can easily make your own corn-free buttery spread!  I am curious if it would work to sub the butter called for in the recipe with palm shortening and just add some butter extract/flavoring to it (assuming it’s corn-free) for a dairy-free and corn-free buttery spread?? :-D

This cookbook is the perfect example of why I affectionately call myself a “glutadoodle!”  Living a healthy, dietary-restricted life in a world of processed food can make one a little wacky (in a good way, mind you), so why not embrace it and have some fun? :-D

Okay, before I share the recipe there are a few things I need to mention, because I think this recipe still needs some tweaking (and I could use some help)!

  • While my tweaks make it dairy-free, it is not vegan because of the gelatin.  I am wondering if pectin would work, but I fear that the “cheese” may end up with a fruity aftertaste.  I was also thinking that agar might be a good alternative, or even xanthan gum (I used this as a substitute for gelatin in a recipe for corn-free marshmallows last January.  I found the idea to use xanthan gum in a super cool downloadable (and free) e-book called “Texture-A Hydrocolloid Recipe Collection,” I definitely encourage you to check it out and tap into your inner “food scientist!”).
  • I subbed the instant non-fat powdered milk with powdered rice milk and it did lend a slightly sweet taste to the end product.  I can’t seem to find a dairy-free/casein-free powdered milk that is not sweet.  I am wondering if there is something else that would work instead, maybe even just replacing the powdered milk and water altogether (and just using a very hot dairy-free milk instead?), or replacing it with a gluten-free flour/starch (since I am not a chemist, I have no idea what purpose the powdered milk serves.  If I knew, that would help narrow down the potential substitutes!).
  • The “processed” dairy-free cheese turned out on the soft side, not really like American cheese slices or even Velveeta.  The consistency reminded me more of a cheddar cheese spread, like Kraft’s Old English, which is okay, because having something to spread on a cracker is much easier and less messy than sprinkling on some Daiya vegan shreds (I am really hoping that a sliced cheese is next on Daiya’s “to-do” list!). ;-)

I will share the original recipe with my dairy-free tweaks next to it (the recipe is for a 2-lb. bar of cheese, so I only made 1/3 of it just in case it bombed; Daiya is not cheap!) so experiment away (and if you figure out a way to improve it, please let me know)!

If you are not dairy-free, but are dye-free, you could just follow the original recipe and use white cheddar cheese to make a food coloring free Velveeta-style cheese!

American Cheese

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. Grated Mild Cheddar Cheese (I used 8-oz. of Daiya Cheddar Shreds)

1 1/2 cups Very Hot Water (I used 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. Instant Nonfat Dry Milk (I used 3 Tbs. Powdered Rice Milk)

1/2 Envelope Unflavored Gelatin (1 1/2 tsp.) (I used 1/2 tsp.)

Directions:

Because your blender will not handle all of the ingredients at once (a Vitamix will hold all of the ingredients but they weren’t around in 1978!), make the cheese according to the following directions:

  • In a blender or food processor put 1/2 cup very hot water,  3 Tbs. Instant nonfat dry milk and 1/2 tsp. gelatin.
  • Whip until the gelatin is dissolved.
  • Quickly add 1/2 pound of the grated cheese and blend until well combined.
  • Pour into an 8 x 4 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan that has been lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper (since I made a smaller batch, I used a mini loaf pan).
  • Repeat this process two more times, until all of the ingredients have been used and the loaf pan is filled.
  • Cover the pan with more plastic wrap and chill overnight before unmolding.  Keep cold and slice as needed.

Like I said, the recipe could still use some tweaking (for dairy-free and vegan), but I figured I would go ahead and share the recipe, so we could make this a collaborative project!  If you find something that works really well, please let me know and I will update this post (or if you are a blogger and post the recipe with your tweaks, let me know and I will link up to you from here)!

Glutadoodles Unite!

Yeah, I am definitely off my rocker… :-D

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Comments

  1. kelly says:

    let me just say it from all of us: "YOU ROCK!!!!" =0)

    • LOL, thanks Kelly!

      Once we figure this out, we need to set our sights on a dairy-free, soy-free cream cheese… ;-)

      xo,
      Heidi

      • sk8rEve says:

        I think that the Xantham Gum will work excellent. Be careful with Gelatin because it is animal based, and not Vegan. So you def will want to stay away from that. It really doesn't take much of the Xantham Gum to work. I have used it in making hair products, because it is food grade. I used it as a filler/binder and it works great like that. It is used in Vegan baking and cooking because of those qualities.

        • sk8rEve says:

          Oh, and BTW Guar Gum and Agar Agar are plastifiers and when they are used they may be great but when heated they become and act like plastic. They are notorious for causing gas also. They are used often in ice creams, especially non-dairy ice creams and are great because they make it nice, smooth and creamy but can tend to cause, "blockages" or make it difficult/challenging to eliminate.

  2. Maggie says:

    Wow, this is really cool Heidi. You are amazing – where there's a will, Heidi will find the way! Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom is right! I am a little surprised at the protein at every snack rule. We're so obsessed with protein and it kind of drives me mad. I do believe there is a need for it, but at every snack? And are they also getting it at every meal? I don't know! I'll get off my rant now :) I might actually try this one day – I love a good cheese sauce and this recipe might work. What a crazy book that is – I can't believe you even found it! Haha.

    • Yeah, the protein at every snack seems a little much to me too, I suppose that is to curb the preschool sugar rush! I think I will try and make some healthy dairy-free chocolate protein bars using hemp protein, I love that stuff, it has such an amazing nutritional profile (too bad I can't have it due to the naturally higher iron content).

      Yes, the book is a bit nutty, no wonder it isn't in print anymore! ;-)

      xo,
      Heidi

  3. Deanna says:

    I'm guessing agar would work. You can usually do a swap there. Not sure what I'd do for the milk powder, though.

    I have this completely spectacular book from the library right now – The Ultimate Uncheese Book. (http://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Uncheese-Cookbook-Delicious-Dairy-Free/dp/1570671516) I'm going to have to buy it. I've tried a few things out of there that I completely love. There's an entire section on block cheeses. Some of the recipes use tofu, but most don't and most have GF subs for anything that's not GF. If you want me to type up one of the block cheese recipes and send it to you, let me know. These are the types:

    Swizz

    Onion, Dill & Horseradish

    Gooda

    Colby

    Buffalo Mostarella

    Muenster

    Montery Jack

    Brie (this one contains soy)

    • Deanna, I would LOVE that! I've heard about the cookbook, but I assumed it was mostly for recipes using soy products.

      Can you send me the recipe for colby? :-D

      My email is heidi AT adventuresofaglutenfreemom DOT com

      I would love to have a "cheese" I can cube, slice or shred!

      xo,
      Heidi

      • Deanna says:

        You got it. I'll type it up and send it your way. I haven't made it, so I don't know how good it is. (I haven't done any of the block cheeses yet.) But, I just got done eating the South of the Border Fondue, and I can definitely vouch for that one! Yum!

  4. I admire your determination, Heidi, and like the ideas shared here. That book Deanna has sounds really good! I hope Jenn from Jenn Cuisine will see your post because she actually is a chemist. :-) I've never made cheese of any kind, but also wonder why non-dairy milk couldn't be used vs dry milk powder. My friends make cheese from their goat's milk all the time as I shared before. Usually it's a softer cheese, the chevre, which would be more like that cream cheese you are looking for. More investigating and experimenting to be done … thank goodnesss, we have a glutadoodle who is willing to do it for us! ;-)

    Seeing you soon … very soon! xoxo,

    Shirley

  5. The dairy-free thing really is hard — harder than gluten in many ways. Some products even say dairy-free while they contain casein (one of the proteins in dairy). Ugh! If it's not one thing, it's another! Well, I'm certainly impressed with your creative ingenuity! You do rock!

    Melissa

  6. Sara says:

    I have made some different cheeses that are cashew based that turn out quite good. Here is a recipe that is similar to what I have made: http://www.food.com/recipe/super-fantastic-vegan-… I've used it in a block to slice, as a nacho type dip with chips, for macaroni and cheese, and it can also be frozen then shredded. It's quite versatile! :)

  7. Michelle Olejar says:

    Heidi this looks awesome! I am so looking for a replacement to a local cheese spread that has horseradish in it and this looks like it could be on the right path. I too get very upset to see dairy free only to read the ingredients and see the milk protein in it.

    I am not all that hip on the food science and what each replacement item is made from, but what about Guar Gum? I know I have seen it in a lot of the stuff out there but can't remember it's source.

    As far as the cream cheese…the best thing I have seen for that is the coconut yogurt made from the can and then strained in cheese cloth. It was on a gluten free/dairy free blog called Angela's Kitchen. Maybe So Delicious will come up with their own! Good luck with your science project and I can't wait to try this myself.

  8. Kelly says:

    I have made the colby cheeze before from the uncheese cookbook (I was actually going to recommend it and then I saw that Deanna. I can vouch for the recipe. I won't say it's as good as dairy cheese, but I think if vegan cheeses are your comparison you will be pleasantly surprised. It is incredibly easy to make and melts really well. I don't know that I would eat a slice of it straight up on its own but it's great melted on a veggie burger.

    I have a picture of it here:

    http://pink-apron.com/2008/10/malt-shop-inspired-

  9. Hi Heidi! Thought I'd stop by and see what you're up to…this cheese spread looks delicious. I have never made anything like this but I do love vintage cookbooks…in fact I collect them. I get such a kick out of reading them. Today I was thumbing through "365 Ways to Cook Hamburger" and golly gee, there were some wild recipes in there. Sending hugs!

  10. Brooke says:

    This looks fantastic! We have been using Rice Vegan Slices/Blocks from Galaxy Nutritional Foods, but making our own would be easier. :)

  11. Wendy says:

    This is so cool. I have a good friend who's 2 year old is allergic to dairy, however she has a twin sister who isn't, so she's starting to notice the difference and feeling a bit left out.

    I'm going to send my friend this link, I think it will help her little one a lot.

    Cheers!

    I too have a gluten free blog, come by and say hello.

  12. Casey says:

    Very cool, thanks for this! We have been casein free for about a month now and with gluten/soy/dye/casein free, we're running out of options.

  13. Sunny B says:

    Heidi,

    As mentioned on Facebook, I made this today. In my version I used powdered goats milk and manchego cheese. Truly this is a wonderfully creamy non-cow's milk version of velveeta (the taste is wonderful!). That being said, after reading your other comments on this thread, I believe I have a solid idea for a vegan version and hope to have this perfected by next week. As for now, please enjoy my dairy free (goats milk) version here: andloveittoo.blogspot.com.

    Thanks Heidi!

  14. Alta says:

    This rocks my world. Think it'd work in a broccoli cheese rice casserole? (I'm thinking Thanksgiving here)

    • Alta,

      Isn't this hilarious? I think it would work GREAT in a broccoli cheese casserole! If you try it, please let me know how it goes. And if you make any tweaks of your own, let me know and I will link up to you from this post! :-D

  15. Arlene von Linden says:

    This looks very interesting! I stumbled onto this blog entry on your site when searching for a gluten free, dairy free, soy free cream cheese recipe. I don't suppose you have one of those too, do you?

  16. Victoria says:

    I am GF/CF and soy free. Along with other food allergies so I know what you are going through. One of my "travels" in the web I found a website and they recommend almond flour can be used as a substitute for powdered milk in some recipes, worth a try!!! Great site had a bunch of hints for GF baking and such. http://www.hgdfoods.com/index.html , bottom left of page – gluten free links, 1st link is 2009 Gluten Free ……. It's seven pages or so and I printed mine out for easy reference.

    Good Luck,

    Victoria

  17. Mandy says:

    Hi Heidi,

    My husband is highly allergic to milk and I'm allergic to soy. I usually replace milk with coconut milk (the end product is just a little bit creamier) so omitting the powdered rice milk with coconut milk will just make it creamier.Isn't there a other dairy-free and soy-free substitute for the Mild Cheddar Cheese or Daiya Cheddar Shreds?

  18. Christine Perreault says:

    Hi Heidi,

    I'm a celiac who recently found out I also have IBS and am intolerant to dairy and soy. I am dying without my dairy products and was wondering if this would work for cheese cake, or if you have any dairy/soy free cheesecake or cream cheese recipes. I love your website! It's amazing! You must be one fantastic mom!

    Thanks,

    Christine

  19. Zona says:

    Hello Heidi,

    I see these posts are from last year, and maybe you know by now, but xanthan gum is a corn product. Guar gum can be used to replace xanthan gum. It's made from the guar bean. Also, citric acid is usually a corn product. Just wanted to mention that if you didn't know. The joy of cooking has a recipe for corn-starch free baking powder, which I make for my corn intolerant friend. I am excited about trying some of your recipes. I have been dairy free for 35 years, due to an extreme allergy, and have been off of gluten for about 15 years. After being a vegetarian for 16 years, I had to eat meat so that I can eat at all ;-) I also have Hashimoto's, so I will be interested to read that portion of your blog. Thank you for all of your research and recipes!

    • Hi Zona,

      Yes, I'm now much more aware about the hidden sources of corn, I was diagnosed with a corn allergy of my own last fall. Xanthan gum is a confusing "corny" issue and my friend Shirley from Gluten Free Easily shared a great piece of information about it here.

      Same thing with Citric acid, while it is typically corn-based, it's not always the case (but I typically go off the assumption that the citric acid in processed foods IS corn-based). I do buy a pure citric acid from NOW Foods to use in some of my home preservation endeavors, it is corn-free. :-D

      So much to learn, but the great news is that no matter how many dietary sensitivities my family develops, there is usually a way to make a delicious alternative so no one feels deprived.

      Hugs,
      Heidi

  20. amanda says:

    Hello :) I was looking for info on whether or not velveeta is lactose free and happened upon your lovely blog. I was going to mention that Borden's makes a lactose free cheese but im not sure if its gluten and soy free also but maybe worth a try.

  21. Takiyah says:

    Wow!! I am going to try this asap as I have all of the ingredients in the kitchen right now. You know, some ground mustard and a dash of hot sauce makes it taste more "cheddary."

  22. mare says:

    Love that cookbook too!

  23. Misty says:

    Kosher gelatin is vegan. I’m not sure if it would work with your’ other dietary restrictions though. I’m going to have to find out for myself, as I have Celiac Disease, can’t tolerate dairy, and I’m allergic to soy. Oh, and I’m totally bummed out about your’ cream cheese recipe! I’m one of those who can NOT keep cashews down. :-( Food allergies and CD are taking their toll on me right now.

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