This has to be the simplest and tastiest vegan cheese that I’ve tried to date! It actually has the taste and texture of a medium soft cheese with no nutritional yeast in sight (unless you want to add it of course!). Normally, nut cheeses are a bunch of ingredients whizzed in a blender and served like a dip – tasty and enjoyable. However, if you’re looking for something to serve on a platter with some dried fruits, nuts and seeded crackers that cuts in one piece… make sure you give this one a try.
While this recipe has a very short preparation time, it also has a long ‘inactive’ time. Steps involve soaking the nuts (to aid digestion and help with blending), leaving on the kitchen bench for a couple of days and leaving in the fridge for a few days, So as you can see, some advance planning is required!
I believe that one of the secrets to the taste and texture is the ‘culturing’. I use the word ‘cultured’ only because the combination of ‘fermented’ and ‘cheese’ conjured up unpleasant images! Yes we are actually fermenting but there’s no fizzing and bubbling that goes on here!
You can use any combination of nuts and seeds for the cheese. However after playing around with a couple of combinations, I personally like ½ macadamias and ½ cashews. I think the macadamia’s give a more ‘cheesy’ flavour (the second secret).
It’s the same with adding the culture. You have a variety to choose from. I make water kefir, so like to use that as it’s always on hand. You could however use sauerkraut juice, probiotic powder or capsules, beet kvass (another fermented beverage), milk kefir or whey. Don’t forget that you can also use a shop bought Kefir or Kombucha.
As to the flavour, I’ve given a list of different flavours that you can add to the basic mix in the notes section so enjoy playing around with those.
Once you’ve tried this one, there’s no going back!
Cultured Cheese (Vegan)
A cultured vegan cheese that could be mistaken for the real thing!
Soak the nuts in salted filtered water for 3 hours.
Drain and rinse the nuts and put into a blender.
Add 6 tablespoons of kefir (or liquid culture of choice such as beet kvass, sauerkraut juice or kombucha).
If using a probiotic capsule, break open two capsules and add to the nuts with 6 tablespoons of water.
If using a powdered probiotic, use 1 tsp with 6 tbs water.
Blend until a smooth consistency is achieved.
This may involve scraping down the sides several times. If halving the amount above, the blending can take longer.
Put the mixture into a bowl. Cover with a piece of kitchen paper or cheese cloth, kept in place with a rubber band or string.
Leave on the kitchen bench for 24-48 hours.
Mix in your flavours (see notes for ideas). For this one I used 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a small handful of mint.
Try dividing the mixture into two portions and adding a different flavour to each.
Have a little taste test.
Note that the flavours become stronger the longer the cheese is left.
Tear off two bits of baking sheet and divide the mixture between the two sheets (if not already divided).
Wrap up like a Christmas cracker!
Store in the fridge for a minimum of 4 days. During this time the cheese firms up and flavours develop.
When ready to use, remove the cheese from the wrapper and roll in something tasty such as nigella seeds, toasted sesame seeds, crushed nuts, nutritional yeast or cracked pepper.
Serve with dried fruits, nuts and crackers (and wine!), or re-wrap and put back in the fridge until ready to serve.
Best eaten within a week.
Flavours are only limited by imagination! Here are some to get you started.
- Lemon and mint
- Pitted olives and oregano
- Chopped dried apricots and walnuts
- Chilli and lime
- Nutritional yeast and thyme
- Goji berries