by Frankie Ryott
VANCOUVER – Whether you’re vegan or not, the question on everyone’s lips is often: “What about cheese?” With plant-based, dairy-free diets quickly rising in popularity worldwide, cheese is often the last excuse and the hardest food to replace. Colin Medhurst and Karen McAthy of Blue Heron Creamery are happy to provide the answer with their range of plant-based, dairy-free, vegan products.
A born and raised Vancouverite, Medhurst has an extensive background in plant-based food, having been one half of Feed Life, a business focused on making plant-based living more achievable. After the passing of his wife and business partner, Eden, Medhurst strove to keep her legacy alive. The universe provided McAthy, former executive chef, author of The Art of Plant-Based Cheesemaking, and a pioneer in her craft. The two combined forces to create a business with the mission of exploring the diversity of vegan cheese. In turn, they have managed to swiftly enter a niche that is quickly becoming a market dominator.
The most significant detail that sets Blue Heron Creamery well above the ranks of standard non-dairy cheese is their key focus on maintaining the art of cheesemaking. This includes having a precise focus on the methodology involved, including the use of active cultures, washing, flipping, turning, and the aging stages that are keys of the craft.
“Karen has the ability to really push the current advance of cheesemaking with plant-based mediums,” says Medhurst. “She has taken culturing, aging, and afromaging techniques, applied different methodologies, and still managed to keep those time-honoured traditions alive.”
“I would love to see cultured vegan cheese and the methodologies evolving around it as an evolution of the cheesemaking craft,” says McAthy. “I’m hoping we can affect the shift of that culinary practice in a different way, instead of it being seen as separate. When I ask people what cheese is and how it’s made, not a lot of people can answer that question. From that, I find that there is something to explore in regards to understanding how much the process of making something informs the definition and not just the end result. I think that’s the area that we’re exploring with what we do here.”
This attention to detail and craft alongside hours of hand peeling almonds and monitoring cultures undoubtedly shines through in their final products, which include mouth-watering herb and garlic cumulus cheese, addictive almond ricotta, saporous almond bocconcini and more. Even the most adamant of dairy cheese advocates would find them hard to fault. But they don’t stop at just cheese – Blue Heron also offers a wide range of butters, spreads, platters, and catering packages, all of which make it the perfect addition to the quickly transforming vegan hub that is Main Street.
Blue Heron Creamery is located on 2410 Main Street.Blue Heron Creamery, cheese, food, Main Street, Vancouver, vegan