Hi everyone – its been a while since I blogged. The busy-ness of life has got in the way. A few months ago I tracked down Reece – a member of our food coop – as he had published this amazing recipe for cultured cheese in our local co-op magazine. Reece is a hard core fermenter who does all sorts of very cool stuff with lactic acid bacteria and its my honour to have him as a guest blogger here. As a bonus – there are some cool other links to pursue at the end.
First of all, thanks to Burns for inviting me to write a guest post on his blog. My name is Reece. I’m a college librarian, cooking, baking, and fermenting/brewing enthusiast, and a fan of listening to podcasts and audiobooks on long walks. I met Burns through Karma Food Co-op in Toronto, and occasionally write a zine, and on my blog peakes.wordpress.com.
I’ve been making cultured cashew cheeses for a few years now, and appreciate this type of fermentation for the ease of achieving really tasty, quick (for a fermentation), and varied results with easily available ingredients.
Cashew cheese, actually a fermented nut paté, is dairy-free and simple to make at home with natural ingredients and basic kitchen equipment. Culturing the cheese increases the nutritional value of the raw ingredients, adding probiotics to your diet, and adds complexity to the flavour.
The instructions below provide the basics for making a spreadable cashew cheese. It’s just a beginning, though: by adjusting the recipe and adding ingredients, you can make a wide variety of cashew cheeses. By changing the nuts, you can get an even wider variety of nut cheeses. You can also air dry cashew cheese to make a sharp, hard, salty block. More about ways to be creative with this recipe at the end.
- Large wide-mouth jar
- Elastic band that will fit around jar mouth (a wide elastic will hold the cheesecloth best)
- Food processor or powerful blender
- A container/containers with lid(s). These will be your cheese molds – choose plastic, silicone, or glass. If using the latter, it’s easiest to remove the cheese from the mold if you line it with plastic wrap or parchment paper first.
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 4-8 hours
- ⅔ cup nutritional yeast (optional, but recommended)
- ½ cup rejuvelac (see instructions on making rejuvelac below): requires ¼ C dry whole raw grain or pseudograin
- 1 tablespoon miso
- 1 teaspoon salt
Step 1: Make Rejuvelac (Days 1-6)
Rejuvelac is a cultured sprouted grain beverage that is used to provide beneficial bacteria to the cheese (the miso does as well). If you have sprouted grains, seeds, or legumes before you may already have a process for sprouting – feel free to use that method for the first part of the rejuvelac-making process. My method is below. This makes enough rejuvelac for several batches of cheese, and it can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for months at a time.
¼ cup dry whole raw grains or pseudo grains (e.g., brown rice, quinoa, spelt groats, millet)
- Put the grain in your wide mouth jar and fill the jar up to the top with water. Cut a 2-layer piece of cheesecloth big enough to cover the mouth of your jar and use the elastic band to secure it in place. Let the grain soak over night.
- In the morning pour the water out of the jar through the cheesecloth. Then rinse the grain by filling the jar up with fresh water and dumping it out a couple of times. This prevents the grain from going moldy. Set the jar upside but on an angle so that excess water can drain out. A dish rack works well for this.
- Repeat step 2 two-three times per day until the grain begins to sprout (about 3 days). For some grains you must look closely to see the tiny white tails begin to emerge. Grains will sprout more quickly when it’s warm, and need to be rinsed more regularly in very hot weather.
- After the grains have sprouted, add 1.5 cups water to your jar. Set the jar aside at room temperature for 3 days, keeping it out of direct sunlight and away from sources of high heat. After 3 days, the water should be somewhat cloudy, and smell a little earthy. It may taste tart as well. Now you have rejuvelac! Compost the grains (their nutrients have leached into the water), and save the liquid.
Step 2: Combine Ingredients (Day 7)
- Add all ingredients to your food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape the sides a few times.
- and cover. Now the fermenting process continues!
Step 3: Fermentation (Days 7-9/10)
- Leave your covered container(s) of cheese in a warm area for 2-3 days. Sample the cheese as time goes by, if you like. After maximum 3 days transfer to the fridge, and let firm for 6 hours before eating. The cheese will continue to slowly sharpen in the fridge. It will last in the fridge for a few weeks, or in the freezer for months.
There is no reason to stick to this exact recipe – I’m offering it for guidance, and to get you started. Get creative by replacing the cashews with hemp seeds, or add sun-dried tomatoes or fresh or dried herbs to the cheese. Sage, smoked paprika, chives, peppercorns, etc. are all great options, just add to taste. A small amount of additional cultured food will also enhance your cheese and make the flavour more complex – try sauerkraut, brine of kraut or pickles, kimchi, additional miso, or yogurt (dairy or non). Just make sure to check and see that what you are adding is unpasteurized, live cultured and contains no preservatives, sulphites, etc. (which could prevent the cheese from fermenting). Enjoy, and feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wild Fermentation http://www.wildfermentation.com This site is full of information on making and using all sorts of fermented foods, and on the benefits of fermented foods.
Punk Domestics http://www.punkdomestics.com A site of recipes for fermented foods, including dairy and cashew cheese.
Fermented Vegan Cheese http://fermentedvegancheese.blogspot.ca A blog of fermented cashew cheese instructions and a cheesecake recipe. Includes information on making harder cheeses in molds.
Post-Punk Kitchen http://www.theppk.com If you don’t have time to make fermented cheese, the recipe section of this site offers several non-fermented nut and seed cheese dishes.