For the love of a good cheese! If you steer clear of dairy, whether for one or all of the very good reasons of the harm caused to animals, personal health or the environment, cheese can be one thing still longed for. Where there’s a will there’s a way though. And that way comes in the form of nuts.
Cashews in particular are ideal for blending into a smooth cream that is great for working into a cheese. The other key ingredient? Rejuvelac – a liquid that is a starter culture for nut cheeses, fermenting them to create that ‘bite’ essential to cheesy goodness. Rejuvelac is cheap and easy to make – we have a recent ‘how-to’ for it you can find here.
This recipe for cashew cheese is similar to a chèvre and is a great simple starter cheese. From there, you could also try your hand at an aged cheddar cheese, mozzarella, gouda, boursin and more. There are a great host of recipes available online and in books such as the fantastic Artisan Vegan Cheeses, by Miyoko Schinner – from which the recipe provided here is inspired by.
You can make this basic chèvre-style cheese without the lemon and pepper, and have it either plain, rolled in fresh or dried herbs, with sun-dried tomato, garlic or any other flavour you fancy included. With a few days required to make the rejuvelac and another few to culture the cheese, it’s certainly not an instant outcome so be sure to prepare ahead if you need it for a certain day.
2 cups raw cashews
1/4 – 1/2 cup rejuvelac
1/2 teaspoon + a pinch Himalayan pink or sea salt
Zest of 1 small lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
4 tablespoons freshly ground black or pink peppercorns
Soak the cashews in water for 3-8 hours. Drain and add to a blender with 1/4 cup of rejuvelac and a pinch of the salt.
Blend well, until smooth and creamy. This will take a while and the length of time will depend on the power of your blender. You will need to keep stopping the blender and pushing the mix toward the blades. Optionally it also helps to remove the lid while blending and very very carefully scrape the cashews down the side of the blender toward the blades with a silicon utensil ensuring not to do so too close to the blades. If you’re still finding your blender lacking in the power department, add another 1/4 cup of the rejuvelac.
Once blended and creamy, place the contents into a glass or ceramic bowl (not metal as it is reactive). Cover with a cloth or tea towel and leave to rest at room temperature for 12-36 hours – depending on how warm or cold it is and how sharp you want the cheese, vary the time accordingly. Warmer areas will culture faster.
Once finished culturing, add the lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and nutritional yeast flakes and mix well.
Lay out a piece of baking paper and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of ground pepper down the middle. Add half the cheese mix in dollops onto the pepper. Sprinkle another tablespoon of pepper over the top and use the paper to roll and wrap the cheese into a log, folding the ends. Repeat with the other half of the cheese mix to create a second log.
Store wrapped cheese logs in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 6 hours to firm. The cheese will keep this way in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.