So what’s a girl to do when her fridge is full of Brown Rice Rejuvelac? Why, make vegan cheese, of course!!!
Blogging along with this year’s Vegan MoFo challenge really got me thinking about what foods I like that are both vegan and gluten-free… and I got sad when cheese wasn’t on that list. So inspired by the challenge to veganise everything for a while, I thought I’d give vegan cheese a try!
I got myself a copy of Miyoko Schinner’s Artisan Vegan Cheese, and set to work. First I read everything. Holy yum, are there some delicious looking recipes in that book. I can’t wait to try her Low-Fat Chipotle Cheese Sauce on nachos, and I’ve decided my friend Nicole and I need to make the San Francisco Cheesecake.
Then I set to work making my rejuvelac. Although you can buy starter cultures for making cheese, I thought I’d try my hand at fermenting. And it was actually really fun. I felt like I had a new pet — and everyone who stopped by the house kept asking how my rejuvelac was doing. It felt a little bit like having a sourdough starter again, but a lot easier to maintain — no feeding required!
Once I had the rejuvelac, it was cheese-making time. I decided I wanted two “fancy” goat-style cheeses (vegan-style chèvre)… so I started with Miyoko’s Basic Cashew Cheese recipe, added the flavours I want, stuck them in ramekins, and made some delicious cheeses.
One of my favourite dairy-based cheeses is a lemon flavoured sheep’s milk cheese from Monforte Dairy called “Blossom”. I love it in an appetizer that my friend Louise makes — it’s a crostini: toasted bread topped with the lemon cheese, cooked beluga lentils, and chives. So I thought one of my cheeses would be a Lemon Cashew Cheese.
And one of my other all-time favourite flavours is roasted garlic. Salt Spring Island Cheese Company makes some gorgeous dairy-based cheeses that I drool over at my local supermarket — and one of them is decorated with garlic cloves. YUM! I decided to do the same with my second cheese — a Roasted Garlic Cashew Cheese.
The vegan cheese-making process is pretty easy: you combine soaked cashews & your rejuvelac in a blender, and blitz until you have a smooth consistency.
Then you pop it into a container and let it culture for a couple of days:
Mine got so excited that the lid popped off the first night!
You can see from the side that the culturing process is working — it’s what gives the cheese it’s deep & cheesy flavour:
I served my Lemon Cashew Cheese to some friends that are mainly raw & vegan, and it received rave reviews — even from the 3-year-old, who liked to dip apple slices in it.
And I gave my Roasted Garlic Cashew Cheese a taste test (with rave review from my mouth!):
And then popped it in the freezer to serve to some dairy-free friends later on this month. Miyoko says these cheeses will last in the freezer for up to 4 months — I’m looking forward to seeing what the texture is like after defrosting.
Overall, I can say that I am very pleasantly surprised with my vegan cheese results — I’m looking so forward to further experiments in the vegan cheese world. Yum!
- 2 c. raw cashews
- 3/4 c. brown rice rejuvelac
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
Begin by soaking the cashews: place the cashews in a container, covered with water, for 3-8 hours. Drain the water once the cashews have soaked.
Place the soaked cashews in the blender, along with 1/4 c. of the rejuvelac. Blitz until smooth, adding more rejuvelac as necessary to process the cashews into a creamy consistency. I needed to use the full 3/4 c. of rejuvelac.
Transfer the cheese to a clean glass bowl and cover with a lid or cling film. Leave out at room temperature to culture for 36 hours to develop a cheesy taste.
Mix in the salt and the nutritional yeast, and serve on a vegan cheese plate!
Once the cheese has cultured, you can add to it whatever flavours you want. I personally like the following variations:
Variation — Lemon Cashew Cheese: Add the zest of 1 lemon and mix well to incorporate.
Variation — Roasted Garlic Cashew Cheese: Line a ramekin with cling film. Cover the bottom of the ramekin with a single layer of roasted garlic. Mix 1 clove of roasted garlic into the cashew cheese, and press into the ramekin. Let sit in the fridge (for a minimum of 2 hours, and up to 3 days) so the garlic flavour can infuse into the cheese, and the cheese can firm up.