Oh yes. It's finally here.
I had hoped and asked through the company's online product comment form for Trader Joe's to start carrying vegan cheese. (I hoped that other like-minded folks were doing the same from their home computers, too!) Now, I realize that there is already an excellent vegan cheese substitute on the market. I don't think it would be exaggerating if I said that Daiya has revolutionized the vegan and allergic worlds with its completely milk-free, top 8-free cheese substitutes. It tastes great and it melts. In my inquiries to Trader Joe's about vegan cheese, I specifically mentioned Daiya by name as a product that the company should consider offering.
This winter Trader Joe's finally started selling vegan cheese and, of course, took it one step further: they are selling vegan cheese until their own label. I found Trader Joe's vegan mozzarella shreds selling for $3.29 for an 8-oz bag. This is significantly less than the $5 that I pay for packs of Daiya.
General observations about TJ's shreds: The shreds are thinner, drier, and more translucent than Daiya shreds. They kind of reminded me of parmesan shreds. TJ's mozzarella shreds come in a convenient resealable package, an improvement over Daiya's packaging. To me at least, TJ's shreds smelled like real cheese when I first opened the package, so much so that I momentarily got a little nervous about serving it to my kids. (I admit, I reread the ingredients after the smell check!) I mention the scent because I have read that some people really do not like the smell of uncooked Daiya.
I decided to test-drive TJ's shreds on some homemade pizza. I made a barbecue pizza and a sauceless vegetable pizza using Trader Joe's fresh, whole wheat pizza dough. If your family is okay with wheat and gluten, TJ's pizza dough is a great option for tasty, thin crust pizza. I baked the pizzas according to the dough directions. I took the pizzas out when the crusts were golden around the edges at around 11 minutes.
TJ's shreds melted completely. They melted well -- almost too well -- it was hard to tell that there was vegan cheese on the pizza. It was definitely on the gooey side taking on a sheen like glazed donuts. It would be nice to have a more whitish look to the cheese like real mozzarella but what I really cared about was the taste. Would it be a worthy substitute for the real thing?
TJ's shreds were pretty good. They had a nice flavor that tasted more like the real thing to me than Daiya. After my second time of making pizza with TJ's shreds, I did detect a slight powdery aftertaste. I'd say texture-wise, TJ's shreds are on one end of the spectrum and Daiya is on the other, with real mozzarella shreds right in the middle. Daiya melts and stretches to a point but not as readily as real cheese. TJ's shreds melt more than real cheese would. Beyond taste and texture I was ecstatic to see that TJ's vegan shreds are fortified with calcium. They provide 25% of the RDA for calcium per 1 oz (about 1/4 cup) serving. Daiya Vegan Shreds provide a mere 2% of the RDA for calcium.
|Trader Joe's vegan mozzarella shreds will definitely be a regular in our carts!