Supermarket Free From ranges like the ones found in Tesco and Sainsbury’s are going from strength to strength. There definitely seems to be an acknowledgement that providing these alternatives is a money spinner for the high street and, while I still want to support the independents that have remained loyal and accommodated us for years, there is a convenience from finding decent vegan alternatives in local stores when you’re a working Mum like me.
I have previously chronicled how impressed I was with some of the items from the Tesco range, although it is worth reminding people that not all of the products are suitable for vegans. The concept of the Free From range was initially for those suffering from allergies and intolerance to ingredients like gluten, egg, and dairy. You will find a plethora of cakes on the shelves of Tesco that aren’t SFV on account of the fact egg is used in their production. When new chilled items were recently announced many vegan folks were getting excited about the mention of Sticky Toffee Puddings on social media but I figured not all of those new items would be dairy or egg free. In fact, there were only two new products on the list that weren’t already available in-store or vegan-friendly – a peppercorn ‘cheese’ and Goats Cheese alternative.
This was enough for my interested to be piqued, of course, and was waiting with bated breath for them to arrive in my local Tesco store. I do find it frustrating that shops ‘up North’ always lag behind Southern stores in getting new ranges in stock. I certainly found this when the dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s was released in the UK. Thankfully it only took a couple of weeks until I stumbled across the two new varieties in the chilled aisle.
Produced by Scotland-based Bute Island Foods – who also make vegan cheese for Sainsbury’s too – Tesco’s line is made with coconut oil. This may not to be everyone’s taste, to be honest, and it is something I’ve struggled with during my conversion to veganism. I was never a big fan of coconut beforehand, so to find so many SFV contain the stuff is a bit of a pain. Thankfully some products in the Tesco non-dairy cheese range have avoided that weird taste often associated with vegan cheese. I even featured their Red Leicester Slices in my Top Ten Vegan Cheese list. Believe me, I’ve tried a heck of a lot!
First up was the spread. As a vegetarian I was constantly offered meals laced in the stuff but didn’t find a vegan cheese that had the same earthy flavour Goats’ Cheese has. It lacked the thickness needed to get a good slathering on a oatcake but the flavour was decent. The consistency is creamy and mild but lacks the tang of the original version. Much like Violife’s Halloumi alternative, you will be disappointed if you want this to be an exact replica.
That said, I really like it. I decided to make a tart to see how it reacted under the heat of the oven and I was impressed with the results. It melts well and could be used on top of pizzas for those who want a product that is multipurpose. In fact, it reminded my of Mozzarisella in the way it behaved. I think it will probably work well in dessert recipes too, and I think I will try it as a base for a vegan cheesecake in the near future.
Next up was the Cheese with Peppercorns. I think this will be a great addition to a cheese board over the festive season and really looks the part. Amongst others like Tyne Chease there will be a definite ‘wow’ factor, and it’s amazing how far dairy-free cheeses have come over the last few years.
The base flavour is similar to that of the Goats’ Cheese alternative; mild and creamy. It is a little firmer, and acts like a smooth Feta. I personally find the peppercorns overpowering, but others will possibly love the piquancy of the crumb. It works well with crackers and I will possibly be sharing a recipe with you soon using the whole round of this dairy-free cheese. Keep your eyes peeled! These new products are great additions to Tesco’s Free From roster and offer good value for money.
Thanks for reading,