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Lorraine producer creates milk-free vegan ‘Camembert’

A French producer from the Lorraine region has launched vegan Camembert “cheese”, made from cashew nut “milk”, and matured for at least one month.

In the past few weeks, 28-year-old vegan Anne Guth has launched her company “Les Petits Veganne”, after struggling to find reasonably-priced vegan cheese from within France, reports French news source FranceInfo.

Guth, who was a self-confessed cheese lover before she became vegan, began looking for a recipe that would create a convincing, tasty “cheese”, that also appeared visually-similar to the real thing.

The final product cannot officially be named “cheese”, however - because it is not made from milk - and is instead known as a “vegetable speciality”.

“The most difficult thing was to create vegan “cheeses” that appear visually beautiful,” she explained.

Visually, Guth’s vegan “cheese” appears virtually indistinguishable from the usual white and circular blocks.

The process of making the “cheese” is similar to that when using normal milk, with cashew nut milk combined with cultures and ferments to create the shape and mature it for taste over at least one month.

The only stage that is missed is the “curdling” process seen with normal milk, but otherwise the process includes the normal fermentation stage, the refinement process, and the final maturation.

In the next couple of months, the company hopes to be able to produce upwards of 3,000 “cheeses” per month.

FranceInfo put the vegan product to the test, offering it in a “blind tasting” to Clément Maudet, a professional cheesemonger from the Buttes-Chaumont in Paris.

When comparing the vegan option - which costs €10,90 - to a pasteurised, “industrial” style, €1.41 Camembert (“There’s nothing wrong with it, but nothing is really happening either,” he said) and a AOP raw milk €6 Camembert (“a richer aroma that really smells of the farm”) cheese; Maudet confessed to being quite confused.

Of the vegan choice, he said: “There is no animal smell there at all. The texture is bizarre - it’s quite mousse-like. It is a very mild product, but with a not-altogether-pleasant aftertaste.”

Other taste testers for FranceInfo said that the cheese was “very soft”, “mousse-like”, “edible”; “surprisingly good”, “not bad” and “pretty similar” to the real thing.

The Lorraine-based company now also makes blue cheese (Le Bleu Lorrain) and garlic soft cheese (Le Petit Frais à l'Ail).

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