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Old 09-12-2016, 10:50 AM   #1
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VEGAN CHEESE - milk-oil separation

For years, I have experienced an odd problem which I can't seem to resolve. Today was the last straw - I NEED HELP!
I make my own "cheese" and "mayo" by using a base of homemade soy milk and canola oil. Recently, I began adding xanthan gum to aid long term stability. When the combo works, it comes out thick and creamy and stays that way for a week or more in refrigerator.
PROBLEM: I begin by weighing out the soy milk (115g), then slowly pour in oil (275-300g oil) while stick blending until mixture thickens. I add other ingredients such as salt, nutritional yeast, xanthan gum, etc sometimes at the beginning as I measure the milk, or sometimes at the end after Ive added the oil and the base has thickened.
This morning, I was experimenting with making cream cheese (to go on some pumpernickel I made last night). I began with just the soy milk and the xanthan gum, and started blending in the oil. It was thickening up just fine, then after adding ~250g of the oil, I lost it - it turned to liquid (oil & milk separated).
Usually if I'm going to lose the mixture, it doesn't thicken up at all - this was the first time I lost it after it had begun to thicken. I CAN NOT FIGURE OUT the variable that's causing this separation issue. Why does the same recipe work one time, then separate the next time?

PLEASE HELP before I go crazy!

Thanks, Pammy

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Old 09-12-2016, 03:39 PM   #2
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Since no one else has answered your question, I'll take a stab at it, albeit with the caveat that I've not made vegan cheese before. I have made plenty of mayonnaise, though, and am familiar with emulsions in that regard. I can't imagine this being completely different.

When I make mayonnaise, I find that you have to go extra slowly when adding the first half of the oil. Sometimes I'll just add a little splash, and then make sure it's fully incorporated before adding the next splash. If you add the oil too quickly off the bad, the liquid you are adding it to will not be able to support the weight of it, and the whole thing just breaks and liquifies.

So once I've fully incorporated about half the oil, and the mixture has thickened to the point where it's creamy, then you can start to go a little faster. This is the point where I begin to slowly pour it in a very thin stream. Even then you sometimes have to stop pouring and just let the emulsion catch up a bit.

I've reached a point now where I can usually tell by the look and feel of the mixture if it's on the verge of breaking or not.

Regardless, I still have the occasional inexplicable mishaps. Much more rare these days, but it does happen.

Hope this helps.
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Old 09-12-2016, 04:01 PM   #3
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I will echo what Steve has had to say, but would add that could your kitchen have been extra warm compared to when you normally make it? Does your stick blender overheat? (don't really see how that is possible but... hey! you never know!)

Only other variable I can see would be perhaps you have a different brand of oil or soy you are using?
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Old 09-12-2016, 04:33 PM   #4
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I admit that I am having a hard time imagining that as anything like cheese.


2:1 proportions oil to soy milk emulsified? Weighing liquids? No flavoring?


So I looked up a bunch of soy milk-based vegan cheese recipes and found really nothing like yours. What does it look and taste like?


Anyway, I agree with Steve that your emulsion likely broke because the oil was added too fast ... Oil and water aren't meant to mix very easily....
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Old 09-12-2016, 05:11 PM   #5
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Thanks for responding everyone.
- To eliminate some of the variables, after posting my question I went back out in kitchen and made another batch - cutting ingredients in half in case it broke down again. The second batch came out perfect.
- I began with the soy milk and added the oil v-e-r-y slowly, although faster than a splash now and then. It set up perfectly, so I know it wasn't the milk or blender.
- Once I was finished adding the oil, I began adding the xanthan gum, salt, sweetener, and vinegar. I started w/small amounts of the flavoring until I got it more or less to where I wanted it. I'll probably continue to fool with the amounts the next time I make it to get it tweaked perfectly. I think it is probably the speed at which you drizzle in the oil that either makes it, or breaks it.
- I've tried making cheese with cashews and almonds, and don't really care for the feel of it - it breaks up quickly and there's no chew, cheesy texture, or richness to nut cheese (that I've found, anyway).
- This basic milk-oil cheese sets up well (when it works, and it does most of the time) and keeps its shape, even after putting it on top of EM pizzas. For cheddar taste, add nutritional yeast - for mozzarella taste, add salt+ and a pinch nut yeast - for cream cheese, add the above. If you desire more specifics so you can try it, I'd be happy to post them.
- I reinforce one corner of a ziplock bag w/tape, pour in the "cheese", then clip off a little of the reinforced corner so I can squeeze the cheese out (use small bag clamp to reseal).
- One of the loaves of pumpernickel is already gone, as is the small batch of cream cheese I made this morning. The dog always enjoys my flops mixed in with his food (not all at once, though). He even eats hunks of carrots for treats...
- Thanks again, Pammy
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Old 09-12-2016, 05:49 PM   #6
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Pammyy - one last thought...

Could it be total volume?? Perhaps making it in small batches is the answer. As in the soy can't support the oil after a certain point.

Worth a thought anyhow.

I too bought a pumpernickel loaf the other day and it and the creme cheese are gone! (and no, I did not make either one.) I have not yet tried to make pumpernickel, I do sometimes make my own cheese thou not often.
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