T1.How was Muka born?
M1. MUKA came about during the first Covid-19 lockdown. A year before the virus, Manuel and I left our jobs in London to travel. (We are native Portuguese.) The idea was to take a road trip from Patagonia to Alaska, however, the pandemic caught us halfway, when we were still in Colombia. We ended up returning to Portugal, as the situation was not very friendly to travellers. Confined at home, we decided to create a small fermentation laboratory. In London, we fell in love with cooking, and fermented products were something we had made for several years (we even travelled with our sourdough starter in our backpack and baked bread in every home we stayed during the road trip). Our vegan alternatives to cheese appeared in one of those experiments and we decided to focus on this product because we couldn’t find solutions that we liked in the stores. The concept lies in following traditional cheese making techniques and using nuts (always organic). We use as few ingredients as possible and we let fermentation and time do their work, without using aromas, texturizers, dyes or preservatives. We believe a good vegan cheese only needs four ingredients: nuts, water, salt and fermentation cultures (bacteria / probiotics that will make fermentation possible). Sometimes we add special condiments to give different notes to the products.
T2. They must always be stored in the refrigerator, to preserve their freshness correct?
M2. Yes, we always recommend to store our products in the refrigerator. We also recommend keeping our products in the driest place possible in the refrigerator as they can develop mold if there is too much moisture.
T3. How long are the cheeses good for (when properly stored)?
M3. We always advise our customers to check the label to see shelf life of each product. As a reference, the approx. shelf life for our products are:
Cajuberto – 3 to 4 weeks
V’eden – 2 to 3 weeks
Brito – 2 to 3 weeks
Creamy – 3 to 4 weeks
T4. Are your ingredients all from Portugal?
M4. Our almonds come from Douro’s Region, in the North of Portugal, but our cashew nuts are from Vietnam and Burkina Faso. Cashews can only be grown in tropical regions, which make it hard to grow in Portugal. While we try to use local ingredients where possible. Cashew nuts are a perfect raw material for vegan cheese because, unlike most nuts, they contain almost no fibers and have a mild flavour so we can achieve a very creamy texture and enhance the fermentation flavours.
T5. Do you use a delivery agent / company or does Muka do the deliveries?
M5. We currently perform the delivery ourselves in Lisbon and its surroundings – we have an external person helping us with the deliveries. We are working with a delivery company to start delivering to other regions in Portugal so we hope to start shipping in April.
T6. How many cheeses did you open Muka with and how many do you have now?
M6. We opened with 4 cheeses and we are now with 6 + 2 special editions that we produce sometimes.
T7. Which cheese(s) is/are your best seller?
M7. It’s an even split between Cajuberto and both Britos.
T8. In addition to ordering on your site, which is great by the way 😊, where else can people buy Muka products?
M8. Thanks! Anyone interested can buy them via our retail partners (Greens Beans, Pistácio, Amor a Granel, Mercearia da Mila and Mercearia dos Poços Negros) or every Saturday at Santos Collective Market in front of Santos-o-Velho church.
T9. What are some of your suggestions for serving Muka cheeses? Best served with / accompanied with what (other food and drink options)?
M9. It depends. For example, Cajuberto is perfect to accompany with jams, fruits or chutneys, whereas our Creamy Truffle and Garlic is ideal for spreading on sourdough bread, crackers or in a risotto or pasta. We also suggest to use our Cajuberto in salads.
In the end, we want our customers to try and experiment just like we did when we started MUKA.