After tasting nut cheese at an event serving raw food (I think it was Little Bird) a few years ago, I got really curious about how to make it. At the time, the lovely young lady who served me a slice told me “it’s actually easy, just Google it”.
There are some great recipes out there (and some not so great ones) but this one seems to be the basic ‘industry standard’ and has worked every time. My personal tip is to go the whole 9-yards and make a cultured cheese like this one – the texture, taste and thrill of creation are much more enjoyable. It takes time (like a proper cheese) but don’t be put off, each step is only 5 minutes and the results are shockingly good!
Apologies for the long instructions I just wanted it to be really clear.
2 cups cashews, soaked for a minimum of 4 hours (macadamias are another option)
2 cups water (as needed)
1 teaspoon probiotic powder or 1 teaspoon miso will also work (fresh, not the manky stuff at the back of the fridge)
¾ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup fresh, finely chopped wild fennel tufts & chives (you can use any herbs you like of course)
Place cashews, 1 cup of the water and the probiotic powder into a high speed blender until it becomes smooth. If the mixture is too thick add more water until it loosens. You want the mix to be smooth but not at all watery.
Transfer the the mix into a cheesecloth, fold over and place into a strainer sitting over a bowl. Place a weight on top of the cheesecloth (such as a plate with a copy of Shantaram on it). Cover everything to keep it protected from debris and any unwanted bacteria and place it in a warm area to culture (room temperature is good). Leave for a minimum of 24 hours – no more than 48. After this time you’ll notice that it has become slightly airy or fluffy which indicates the culturing process has worked a treat.
Now place into a bowl & add in the salt, yeast and lemon juice. At this point I usually add in a few of the chopped herbs and maybe a little cracked pepper. Shape your cheese into a round (or if you want to get fancy you can use a metal ring mold). Gently cover the round in the remaining herbs and place into the fridge to firm up and let the flavours mellow together – at least overnight. If you want to go a litte further and get an even more impressive result you can place your cheese into a dehydrator instead of the fridge. Set at 105°F/40°C for 24 hours. This will form an impressive rind and make your cheese that much more spectacular.
There are endless possibilities for flavours here, so go wild and crazy and get all gourmet on it!