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The “Cheese”

10 Jul

If you are offended by anything involving by breastfeeding or breastmilk, please do not read any further.

I decided to attempt to make “cheese” for my toddler using breast milk. Thanks to some amazing vegan chefs before me such as Miyoko Schinner, Skye Michael Conroy, Jay Astafa, and Somer McGowan, I used a similar technique I use for making plant milk cheeses. Plant milks require thickeners to make them stretchy (the tapioca starch) and a thermoreversible binder to make them melt (the kappa carrageenan.) This is not true “cheese” as it’s not made in the traditional methods of making dairy cheese. It’s actually a heat reversible gelatin with a starch added for stretch. Because of this and the fact that it is made with breast milk it is going to be much lower in protein than cow’s cheese, which is pressed protein curds. Please keep this and the relatively high fat content in mind when feeding to children! It does perform like regular cheese in terms or slicing, shredding and melting and is a good use of extra milk that you may have stashed in your freezer.

This post is not meant to be a complete guide to making breastmilk cheese, it was a random experiment in my kitchen that garnered enough attention through a Facebook post that I wrote out my method so others could share. If you would like a recipe for real cheese involving breastmilk, it was posted on New York Chef Angerer’s blog a few years ago and is a Google search away.

Slightly adapt from here.
Recipe:
• 6 ounces room temperature breastmilk
• 3 tbsp melted refined coconut oil (not virgin!)*
• 2 tbsp tapioca starch
• 2 tsp Kappa carrageenan (available on Amazon or Modernist Pantry)**
• 1/4 tsp salt

1. Blend everything together with an immersion blender. Heat in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a flexible spatula. The mixture will start to curdle and thicken – keep stirring until it’s glossy and smooth like melted cheese. This will take about 5-10 minutes-you want to be sure to both activate the tapioca starch and carrageenan.

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2. Pour into a glass bowl and refrigerate for a few hours until firm.

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*I use refined coconut oil because its very mild in flavor and helps the cheese firm up upon refrigeration. If you have coconut allergies, I would suggest trying to make this with an extra tablespoon tapioca starch and a neutral oil like grapeseed or canola. It should set up still, but I have not tested it.

**Note: a lot of people are concerned about carrageenan as an additive. As far as my research has found, the only harmful form of carrageenan is poligeenan, which is not the form used here. It is used mostly in food products like infant formula and non dairy milks as a thickener. I don’t intend for this to be a daily food for my toddler, more as a treat here and there. Some reading for those who want to make an informed decision. More reading. Also, if you’re into peer reviewed academic studies read here. Kappa carrageenan is thermo reversible so it will melt when heated, but it has a higher melting point than dairy cheese.

To those who are concerned about using carrageenan, agar agar powder could also possibly be used, but you would need to boil it in 1/2 cup water to activate it then add the other ingredients and continue cooking it to activate the tapioca starch. I have not tested this and it will definitely have a different consistency. Please let me know your results if you try it!

I did use previously frozen breastmilk for this small wheel of cheese. You can definitely use fresh as well, just try to keep it at room temperature so it doesn’t solidify the coconut oil. High lipase milk should work as well, as heating will deactivate the lipase enzyme and the recipe mostly relies on the ingredients to create a cheesy texture.

Update: Reader Ami made this for her child as a “spread” by omitting the carrageenan and subbing gluten-free flour. She let it firm in the fridge before spreading it on crackers for her little one-this would be a great option for those choosing to avoid carrageenan!
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Thanks to Ami for the pictures.

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42 Responses to “The “Cheese””

  1. Alisha Polanco July 10, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

    AmazeBalls!!

  2. Lena July 10, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

    Hi,
    I’m a lacatation consultant from Germany and I have a Blog about Attachment Parenting and breastfeeding. I would love to translate this recipe in german if you would allow me to?

    Love
    Lena

    • avocadosandales July 10, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

      Absolutely! Send me a link when you get it translated, I’d love to see it!!

      • Lena July 11, 2015 at 7:55 am #

        I absolutley will, thank you ❤

      • Lena July 11, 2015 at 8:06 am #

        May I use your photo of the cheese as well (with all the credits of course)?

      • avocadosandales July 11, 2015 at 8:10 am #

        Yes! I do ask you use just the photos of the cheese, not my daughter to protect her privacy.

      • Lena July 11, 2015 at 8:54 am #

        Here it is:

        http://www.der-apfelgarten.de/muttermilchkaese/

        I used your photo, with credits, please ldet me know if this is not okay!

      • avocadosandales July 11, 2015 at 9:42 am #

        Looks Great! I see you said 2 teelofel of tapioca starch, it should be two tablespoons, not teaspoons (I’m guessing that it means teaspoons as it’s in front of the salt and carrageenan as well!)

    • Lena July 11, 2015 at 11:13 am #

      Thanks, I will look into that 🙂

      • avocadosandales July 11, 2015 at 11:16 am #

        I think it should be esslofel maybe?

      • Lena July 11, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

        Yes, it is 🙂

  3. tibicheri July 10, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

    This is fantastic!! Thank you!

  4. Julie July 10, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

    How long would the cheese keep for in refrigeration? Like, what’s its shelf life?

    Btw, I LOVE this idea!!!

    • avocadosandales July 10, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

      I would estimate about a week in an airtight container.

  5. Ashley (escapebybeauty) July 10, 2015 at 9:52 pm #

    Wow. Craziest idea ever but it looks great! Can’t say I’ll ever try this, but as a vegan, I love all the reasons for this post 🙂

  6. Courtney July 10, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

    Why refined coconut oil? Why not unrefined?

    • avocadosandales July 11, 2015 at 2:22 am #

      Unrefined (virgin) coconut oil imparts a very coconut-y flavor to everything, while refined is for the most part, tasteless.

  7. Jen Eldred July 10, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

    I love this! We are dairy free here, wondering what the taste is like? Could I use it on some homemade pizza?

    • avocadosandales July 11, 2015 at 2:23 am #

      It smells sweet! I haven’t worked up the guts to try it, to be honest. It would probably work really well on pizza, it melts great.

  8. shanthif July 10, 2015 at 10:57 pm #

    This is by far the coolest thing I have ever seen! I have never attempted to make cheese so I’m curious how it doesn’t go bad? I know with breastmilk you have to be so careful about not reheating it and it is only good in the fridge a few days. Just wondering! Also have you tasted it after a few days? I totally want to make this!!! You are a genius!

    • avocadosandales July 11, 2015 at 2:27 am #

      Heating it definitely is going to remove some of the beneficial properties, like the live white blood cells, but the vitamins and minerals should remain intact during heating. I used previously frozen milk, so it was already lower in quality than fresh.

      Depending on what source you read from breastmilk is good for up to 7 days refrigerated. I just made it today, so haven’t tried it a few days later!

  9. Fiona July 11, 2015 at 1:00 am #

    Why not Virgin coconut oil?

    • avocadosandales July 11, 2015 at 2:28 am #

      Virgin coconut oil will make it taste very coconut-y! Refined is mild and doesn’t impart a flavor.

  10. Lorraine July 11, 2015 at 1:50 am #

    Hi… Love this idea!!! Just want to know what happens if i use virgin coconut oil?

    • avocadosandales July 11, 2015 at 2:27 am #

      Virgin coconut oil will make it taste very coconut-y! Refined is mild and doesn’t impart a flavor.

  11. hannyle July 11, 2015 at 1:56 am #

    Amazing Lacey! Can I translate this to Spanish and publish it on my blog? (a blog on mothering through breastfeeding). I would of course link to this blog and quote you as the author of the recipe.

  12. Madelon July 11, 2015 at 3:44 am #

    Amazing! The idea of making cheese from breastmilk has pooped my mind multiple times but I didn’t know if it was possible. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Liz July 11, 2015 at 5:20 am #

    Forgive my ignorance but what is an immersion blender? This could be the solution for cheese for my 4 year old dairy intolerant son as I’m breastfeeding my youngest and gave spare milk!

    • avocadosandales July 11, 2015 at 5:44 am #

      You can use a regular blender as well! Some people refer to immersion blenders as stick blenders, they are made to be put straight down into liquids. Daiya Cheese may also be another great option for him if you are in the US!

  14. Z&EMomma July 11, 2015 at 6:12 am #

    This is amazing. My family can’t have coconut oil due to an allergy. Can you suggest another non-nut oil that could be used?

    • avocadosandales July 11, 2015 at 6:14 am #

      The coconut oil is used to help it stay firm upon refrigeration. I personally haven’t tried it yet, but I believe if you don’t mind it being in a “melt” form, you could use another tablespoon of tapioca starch and any other mild oil (canola, vegetable, grapeseed, etc.) Please let me know if you try this, I’d like to know the results!

  15. zabliznacite July 11, 2015 at 6:57 am #

    Hallo, with another translation request 🙂
    May I translate and publish your recipe (of course with link, but I would like to use the photo) in my blog? It is about twins and very popular between BLW mothers in Bulgaria.
    Thank you for the nice idea!

    • avocadosandales July 11, 2015 at 6:59 am #

      Absolutely!! I would love to see the link when it’s finished. I only ask you just use the cheese photos, not any of my daughter for her privacy. Thanks!

      • zabliznacite July 11, 2015 at 10:10 am #

        Thank you very much, I was indeed thinking only about a photo of the cheese and will post you the link!

  16. Sarah July 11, 2015 at 8:08 am #

    Wow this is excellent!

  17. Jamie July 11, 2015 at 8:21 am #

    Do you have a link to your recipe for the soy cheese? This breast milk cheese sounds cool and I think I’ll try it too. And when I do I’ll taste it to let you know how it is!

    • avocadosandales July 11, 2015 at 9:16 am #

      The recipes I use for the soy cheese comes from the Non Dairy Evolution Cookbook – it’s worth the buy on Amazon!

  18. Katie Wise July 11, 2015 at 11:39 am #

    Great idea, thanks

  19. The Nursaholic July 11, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

    Reblogged this on Mama's Milk, No Chaser and commented:
    When MaiTai was young (after he started eating solids), I experimented a bit with breast milk recipes to incorporate in his table foods. I only really had success with breast milk butter (you can find the recipe here: http://mamasmilknochaser.com/titillating-trivia/fill-your-foodie-flask/breast-milk-recipes/) — only because my kitchen wizardry is admittedly lacking.

    As part of a vegan family myself, I was really excited to see this breast milk cheese recipe. (Most cheese is made from breast milk, after all… but this is extra special because it’s YOURS!).

    Try it out and let me know how it went!

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