The artisan vegan cheese scene in the US has really taken off. I made it my goal to try out as many of them as possible during my recent visit to the US.
At $10-15 a piece, sometimes it’s really hard to choose and decide which vegan cheese is best for you, so I’ll be reviewing Treeline, Punk Rawk Labs, Avellana Creamery, Vtopian Artisan Cheeses, Cheezehound (based in NY) and Dr Cow each in their own posts, then doing a round-up to compare them all at the end. Keep checking back for all the vegan cheese you can handle! Ah, and there’s a giveaway in there too!
In this post I’ll be reviewing Treeline Cheese, made in the Hudson River Valley region of NY but available at most Whole Foods across the country. I had tried the original flavor in another post a year ago and wasn’t a fan, but wasn’t sure if it been a case of mishandling in the store. I decided to give it another try so I contacted the company to see if they would be interested in working on a review together…they were!
First, the basics…
Base: cashew nuts
Consistency: hard and sliceable
Varieties: Cracked Pepper Hard Cheese, Classic Hard Cheese, Herb-Garlic Soft French-Style, Scallion Soft French-Style, Chipotle-Serrano Soft French-Style and Green Peppercorn Soft French-Style
Other points: Non-gmo, gluten free, soy free and probiotic
My first impression when I opened it was that it was sealed very well, in a plastic wrapping within the box, meaning it was nice and fresh upon opening. Let’s go through the varieties.
Cracked Pepper Hard Cheese
The cracked pepper was my favorite flavor. It was bit sharper than the classic variety and I loved the hint of spice from the black pepper without it being overbearing. I just ate it right on top of crispy wheat crackers and that was delicious. It was the hardest texture of all the vegan cheeses I tried, very sliceable and not spreadable at all, which was great.
My Mom who is not vegan said it doesn’t taste any different from regular cheese. I asked her what type of regular cheese it reminds her of exactly and she said it’s not like anything she ever tasted because it has seasoning (the pepper), but that she liked it.
The more I ate, the more I wanted to keep eating it! Recommend it if you want a hard tangy sliceable cheese and enjoy black pepper.
Classic Hard Cheese
I found this one tangy, but not as complex flavor as the cracked pepper. Pro-tip: I found with most the vegan cheeses that once you open the product and store it in the fridge it totally ripens and gets a bit tangier and more complex-tasting over a week or so. By the time I finished the classic flavor it had developed a much sharper taste and it really grew on me.
For any of you black pepper haters, this is for you! I think the texture of Treeline’s hard cheeses is the most solid and “cheese”-like compared to other vegan cheeses.
My Dad preferred this variety as he thought the cracked pepper was a bit too spicy for him. Depends on your range, I guess! I didn’t find the cracked pepper spicy at all, just tangier, but my Dad said he liked the more mild flavors in general.
Chipotle-Serrano Soft French-Style
This one had a very complex flavor, slightly smoky with a bit of a spicy kick and a tang to it. I tried it on tacos and this was good, but I’m not sure that was the best usage for it. I actually think it’d be really interesting to use for a smoky version of vegan mac and cheese, in a wrap or maybe just spread on top of toasted corn tortillas with some tomato on top for a fancy decontructed kind of quesadilla. Or make your own tacquitos with it!
Scallion Soft French-Style
I tried eating this one on a bagel. It was very tangy, probably the tangiest compared to the other varieties. I’m not sure a bagel was the best fit though as it was not like cream cheese at all, but still yummy. I think the scallion flavor would be really great tucked into a simple wrap with some lettuce, sprouts, tomato, and avocado or on a nice sandwich on some sourdough bread
Green Peppercorn Soft French-Style
No photo for this one, sorry! This flavor was one of the milder ones, but a little but of tang from the peppercorn. If you just want a more mild cheese-like spread with a slight tang, this one is for you. I think this would also be good in a wrap, mixed in with pasta for a gourmet cheesy noodle dish, in a baked potato or in a risotto.
Herb-Garlic Soft French-Style
For the garlic-lovers among you! This was the most “normal” flavor of the soft cheeses and would be a good one to start off with if you’re afraid of the more exotic flavors (as long as you like garlic). You could taste the garlic, but it was mild and not overpowering or spicy at all and quite mild tasting.
What makes Treeline different…
Treeline is one of the most accessible artisan cheese out there since it’s available at most Whole Foods. Their hard cheeses have nice solid texture, more sliceable than any of the others I’ve tried. I’d say as a whole their cheeses are quite mild, so if you’re looking for a super tangy cheddar-like cheese Treeline might not be for you. My Dad liked Treeline the best for this reason, prefering a more mild cheese without any extreme flavors. He actually started sneakily eating all my Treeline cheeses while I was asleep and said they really tasted like cheese (he is very much not vegan).
Where to Buy
Treeline is now in over 600 stores – from neighborhood health food stores and co-ops to giant supermarkets all over the continental US – from New York to Chicago to LA and back via Seattle, Austin, Dallas and Washington DC. Supermarket chains include Whole Foods, Lassens, Heinen’s, MoM’s, Akins & Chamberlins and Hy-Vee and they are adding more stores all the time.
I also found Treeline for sale online at igourmet.com here. Good news for those living without a vegan-friendly shop nearby or just those who prefer their cheese to come to them! 😉
Have you tried Treeline’s cheeses? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!
Disclaimer: I was provided samples of Treeline’s cheeses to review, after contacting the company myself. The reviews posted on this blog are however always my honest opinion of the product.