Researchers in Canada have created vegan blue cheese using fermented oats.
Research chef Maynard Kolskog developed the plant-based cheese at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, as part of a partnership with the Prairie Oat Growers Association.
The idea is to use Alberta oats to create a host of plant-based products, catering to demand for more sustainable foods. As well as Danish blue cheese, Kolskog has created smoked gouda, milk, ice cream, yogurt, and even a version of miso paste using oats.
“I’m excited about utilizing the entire grain,” Kolskog told Tech Life Today. “It’s very reasonably priced and plus it’s an Alberta product.”
He’s still working on getting the blue cheese right, which needs more creaminess to nail the texture and mouthfeel, he maintains. “We’re looking at experimenting and doing things that haven’t been done before. The potential is really amazing with this product,” he said.
Kolskog isn’t only focusing his attention on vegan versions of dairy products. He has also created a vegan beef wellington and is working on turning kidney beans, peas, and white northern beans into plant-based meats.
“The challenge is to do quite extraordinary things with [these projects],” he said. “That’s what I love about the job.”
Fellow food scientist Dr. Lingyun Chen — who created vegan milk using the oats — explained that whilst the project is about helping oat farmers, it’s also about transforming the food industry, and helping Canadians to develop better eating habits.
“It’s another way we can change those valuable crops to a health food and improve public health,” Chen noted.
Vegan food is already rising in popularity across Canada, with government organizations supporting a shift away from meat and dairy consumption. Earlier this year, dairy was almost completely dropped from Health Canada’s 2019 nutrition guide, and a larger emphasis was put on consuming plant-based sources of protein.
The new health guide received backlash from farmers, who felt it would harm the dairy industry and “confuse” Canadian citizens over the nutritional value of dairy products. However, Health Canada maintained that the guidelines are in the best interests of the public.
“Regular intake of plant-based foods, so vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and these plant-based proteins can have positive effects on health,” said representative for Health Canada Hasan Hutchinson.