I have yet to find a vegan cheese that tastes like cheese. It seems that all recipes use mainly nutritional yeast as flavoring and while it's delicious and has a cheesy flavor to it, it doesn't quite taste like real cheese. My question is how can I make vegan cheese that tastes like actual cheese? I've found some recipes that use fermented tofu as part of the flavor component and that might give it the fermenty flavor, but what I really want is the sharp flavor that comes with cheddar. Is there anything I could add to make it taste like that?
According to Eater, the latest and most sophisticated vegan cheeses involve fermentation of the cheese base itself, rather than by adding any particular ingredient:
The process for making fermented vegan cheese, which is most nut-based cheese, is quite similar to that used to make dairy cheese. A nut is soaked and then blended with water to create a milk base, to which a culture is added.
As such, if you're making your own, then you need to look into how to ferment your own nut milks and other ingredients.
Cheddar flavor is the holy grail of vegan cheese. Start with a good fermented base for umami and acid, best is homemade buttermilk*, shiro miso is good
Dijon mustard helps with the sharpness of cheddar. If you can get a hold of tyrosine crystals in consumer amounts, you will have struck cheddar gold.
Try Naturesflavors.com for organic vegan butter flavor or cheese flavor or concoct your own mix with nut/chardonnay/toffee/quinine notes etc gleaned from cheese tasting notes you might read.
*add a pinch of vegan cheese culture (feta is good) to a room temp carton of nondairy that isn't super low fat (soymilk or cashew good) squeeze out air to the top and recap. Shake to mix. Leave on kichen counter 24 - 36hrs before taste testing. If it isn't sour by 48hrs, culture was dead.