Inspiration of the cheesy variety.
I was never a big cheese fan. I liked it OK, back in the day of dairy-eating, but was never crazy for the stuff. I suppose that little factor made my transition into being a vegan relatively simple; cheese is the one thing that holds a lot of people back. I have dabbled a few times in the art of nut “cheese,” using soaked cashews or macadamias to produce a cheese-like substance. True (dairy) cheese lovers will never be fooled by a vegan substitute (or may even be totally weirded out by them = Viper) but they are quite yummy in their own right.
Recently, the lovely Sara from Fit To Blog (who I have had the pleasure of meeting in person, on my last junket to New Zealand) posted about her adventures in almond cheese making. She used probiotic capsules to culture her nut cheese (whenever I hear the term “cultured food,” I imagine a sandwich in opera glasses drinking an aged marzemio, Ha) – I am always up for adding a little “culture” to my food, and this sounded a whole lot more fun than just swallowing a tablet. You can follow Sara’s instructions here – I basically stuck to her method, with a few tweaks, naturally.
Basic Cultured Almond “Cheese”
Adapted/Inspired by the recipe/method from Fit To Blog
- 2C raw almonds (or cashews/macadamias)
- 1/2C water
- 1/4C nutritional yeast
- Powder from 2 probiotic capsules
- 1/2t sea salt
- Any flavourings you like – fresh/dried herbs/sun dried tomatoes etc.
- First you need to soak your almonds overnight or until they get a little white tip (pictured below).
- Peeling the nuts is optional, but the end result will be much prettier and smoother if you do.
4. Pour mixture into a bowl, and leave overnight to “culture-up.” Be aware that this stage could take longer if you are in a colder climate – it’s very warm where I live (over 30 degrees celsius most days) so if you are in a colder climate this could take anywhere from 12-36 hours. Trust your nose – as is the key with all fermenting ventures!
5. Place mixture in some cheese cloth, and squeeze out all excess liquid. (Hint – save this liquid – mix it with some tahini, whole grain mustard and apple cider vinegar and it makes a yummy, creamy salad dressing).
6.Pat into small individual “rounds” and dehydrate at 90 degrees C, flipping over once, until you achieve your ideal cheesy consistency.
After dehydrating, the “cheese” has a delicate outer crust, with a soft centre – in between a dry cottage cheese and a crumbly feta? It’s really up to you – if you dehydrated it long enough, it would become dry and crumbly – the perfect parmesan substitute!
No, it’s not CHEESE….. BUT it does contain essential bacteria for a healthy gut, plus all the goodness from almonds, and it has quite a sharp, cheesy flavour thanks to the nutritional yeast. Brilliant on salads, and I can see a vegan cheese-board with home made crackers in my very near future, that’s for sure. Frankly, the vegan cheese substitutes I have tried from the supermarket resemble AND taste like chemical-laden-plastic, so to have a straight forward, whole food recipe for one is quite exciting. Thank you, Sara!
Are you a cheese lover? If you are vegan – do you miss cheese? What’s your favourite alternative?