Is gorgonzola vegetarian? If not, what cheeses are for vegetarian? In this article, I am going to make sure you will be able to enjoy gorgonzola even if you are a vegetarian. Or else, the closest possible alternatives to the authentic gorgonzola blue cheese.
The quick answer – no, gorgonzola is not vegetarian. I am talking about the traditional PDO-certified gorgonzola made in Italy. Like all other PDO cheeses – parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar, Gruyère, feta and provolone – were all made with animal rennet traditionally, calf rennet in particular. So, it’s technically not vegetarian.
Yes, animal rennet is still largely being used today, but mainly in traditional artisan cheesemaking. Due to the limited availability, most of the industrial cheesemaking today are using artificially produced enzyme called Chymosin (Fermentation-produced).
To put it short in layman’s terms, It’s done by cut-and-paste of the rennet gene obtained from animal and paste it to fungi (A. niger), and the chymosin enzyme produced after is extracted. It’s suitable for vegetarians and is cruelty-free.
If you check the label next time you go groceries, it’s normally listed as “enzyme”. Using the pure chymosin enzyme will produce a cheese with less bitter taste as compared to using animal rennet.
In addition to animal rennet, some traditional cheesemakers will use vinegar and wine to adjust the acidity instead of using the common citric acid.
Except those PDO gorgonzola Imported from Italy, many of the gorgonzola cheese or cheese products you can buy now are actually using enzyme chymosin. Thus, it’s vegetarian friendly like the one above by Boar’s Head.
That’s about the gorgonzola, do you eat vegetarian feta cheese too? I explained more in this article – feta and rennet.
The Gorgonzola for Vegetarians
One way is to go to your local groceries and get some non-PDO gorgonzola at the deli, some are produced in the United States. Check the ingredients to make sure there’s no rennet used. The other method is to head on to Boar’s Head website and get some for yourself. I just checked, but I couldn’t find any of it on their websites as for now, try your luck.
As for Amazon, some are PDO and imported, and many sellers did not provide enough information so I don’t feel comfortable recommending.
The PDO gorgonzola vs vegetarian gorgonzola, here is an interesting guess:
Do you know which one is the PDO gorgonzola? The correct answer is actually the image at the right, the one with brown rind. The one on the left is actually a 100% vegetarian gorgonzola made with cashews, coconut milk, and spirulina. It’s completely plant-based, and they look almost identical and tasty, aren’t it? While I can’t guarantee the taste will be the same as the PDO gorgonzola, the packaging says “taste like gorgonzola” here is the one for y’all vegetarians pleasing to the palate.
If you have a couple hours and calories to spare, maybe you can even try to make your own gorgonzola. Sounds complicated and hassle? it’s actually quite easy. Watch this mother-and-son spending their time having fun with gorgonzola making at the kitchen.
All the ingredients you need are listed here:
- Organic Milk 1 Gallon (not ultra pasteurized)
- Cheese Cloth
- Penicillium Roqueforti
- Kefir Culture
- Tel-Tru Thermometer
- Vegetable Rennet
Get these 6 items and you are all set making your very own vegetarian gorgonzola to enjoy with your friend or family!
Other vegetarian Cheeses and Substitutes
You might as well want to try other type of vegetarian cheeses, here is the list and link: