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.
• 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.
2. Pour into a glass bowl and refrigerate for a few hours until firm.
*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!
Thanks to Ami for the pictures.