Over the many years that my family has had dairy allergies and intolerances, we have looked at many dairy free cheeses. It is always shocking to me that the vast majority of dairy free cheese (nut, rice, and soy based) has casein which is milk protein. That makes no sense to me at all. What is even the point of making the cheese to begin with? The only people that would eat that kind of cheese, in my mind anyways, are those that are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerant people can take a lactaid type pill (I did for many years before I couldn’t eat dairy at all) and eat traditional cheese without issue. If I could eat traditional cheese, I would eat it everyday in many styles. I certainly wouldn’t eat dairy free cheese just for the fun of it. Would any of you? Seriously, if you would, I would love to hear your reasons. 🙂 No judging here, I am just curious.
My husband was the first to go dairy free in our family before we had kids. Back then, I didn’t realize that I needed to read the label of a cheese that said “dairy free”. I figured it would be dairy free! For many years he ate soy cheese, it was the best we could find at the time. The soy cheese was a bit rubbery, didn’t really melt, and browned when cooked. You don’t know what you don’t know, right?! He continued to have symptoms of eating dairy, so I started reading labels more carefully. At this point, we realized he couldn’t eat the soy cheese so he was out of cheese options for quite some time.
I can’t remember how long my husband had gone without cheese, but it had probably been more than a year. We went to a local pizza restaurant that carried a vegan/dairy free cheese. Both of us tried the cheese on a melted sub sandwich and were amazed at how good the cheese was. We liked it so much that I asked the waitress what kind of cheese it was. It was Daiya mozzarella style cheese. I went home and googled where I could pick some of this cheese up and found it at a store I frequent near my house. We began to eat quite a bit of the mozzarella shreds though used it sparingly. The taste of the mozzarella shreds is VERY pungent, nothing like true mozzarella cheese. If you aren’t careful, the pungent flavor will completely take over whatever you are using it with. When we used it on pizza, I used maybe 1/2 cup for a whole pizza. Daiya’s cream cheese has this same pungent flavor so we avoid it altogether. In all honesty, for us it ruins a good bagel or anything else you would mix it with. The mozzarella shreds I have found is best in grilled sandwiches with other bold flavors like a meatball sandwich, a pesto veggie sandwich, a french dip, etc. Other than that, I don’t use the mozzarella shreds at all.
A few years back, the cheddar style shreds (affiliate link) appeared on the shelves so I figured I would give it try. This is by FAR the best dairy free/vegan cheese for all intensive purposes. The flavor is very mild so it works nicely on pizza, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, etc. It actually melts which is amazing if you’ve tried other dairy free cheese. I just started buying this by the case from my local grocery store so I can get a discount. It freezes for up to 3 months. Now, if you have had traditional cheese, you need to go into this knowing it’s not real cheese. I don’t think there is anything dairy free out there that would look, smell, taste, melt, and have the same texture as traditional cheese. If you can go in with that in mind, I think you will agree with me. My family loves this cheese on anything. 🙂
My husband really loves cheese, crackers, and salami with a glass of wine. The cheddar style cheese isn’t a great fit for this purpose. Over Christmas I decided to give the Daiya Pepperjack style block cheese a chance for my husbands gift. My husband is very particular about food, he’s my best food critic. He absolutely loved this cheese! It paired very well with the other bold flavors of salami and wine. Since I haven’t tried it myself, I can’t give you any other insight than that. From the smell of it, it is also more of a pungent cheese so I would use it paired with other bold flavors as well.
Altogether, Daiya cheese has changed our food allergy life for the better. It is so nice to have an amazing alternative that truly is dairy free.