I Made My Own Vegan Cheese!

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I hope you enjoyed the Chickpea-TVP Burgers & Kale-Cabbage-Leek Grill Mix recipes Tuesday! I’m sure loving grilling season.

Okay, to the cheese. I’m excited.  Today I can finally share the results of my first experience making raw, vegan cheese!  I took an Advanced Raw Class with Russell James last month at Organic Avenue and I was obsessed with trying to make the two cheese recipes that we tasted.

Russell James' Caraway, Fennel & Olive Cheese & his Cashew Cheese at Organic Avenue

The recipes were included as part of the class and they are not for me to share. You can find the Caraway, Fennel & Olive Cheese recipe in Russell’s Raw Cheese e-book (and I suspect the “Basic Raw Cheese” recipe in the book is the Cashew Cheese recipe).

I started with the Cashew Cheese because I had all of the ingredients and a nut milk bag (during the class he indicated that he now prefers to use nut milk bags for cheese rather than cheesecloth).

I whipped up the ingredients (which included a probiotic for culturing) in Viv (my Vita-Mix) and poured it into the nut milk bag (error number one?).

I pressed it by setting a Turkish coffee pot on top.

The trick here is to have enough weight to press out the liquid but not too much that the cheese comes oozing out. I’ll confess I was obsessed with this.  I tried a few mason jars with beans and saw cheese coming through. With the coffee pot, really no liquid came out (error number two?).

The cheese was to remain on the counter for 24 – 48 hours to culture. At 24 hours I processed in the additional ingredients and transferred the cheese to a ring mould where it would sit for another 24 hours, this time in the refrigerator.  After 24 hours, it seemed fairly moist (again, pretty certain more liquid should have come out during the 24-hour culturing/pressing process) but I removed the ring mould and wrapped it up as instructed. I placed it in the back of the refrigerator (it’s supposed to be ready in one week, or up to 6 weeks) and headed to Arizona where I completely forgot about it.

I returned to New York, anxiously unwrapped the cheese and, well, it didn’t look like Russell’s.  And it didn’t taste like Russell’s.

I wrapped it back up and waited another week.

That extra week helped!  It still doesn’t look quite like Russell’s but it is tasty. It’s now two weeks old and keeps getting better! So maybe there were no errors, but…

…I bought a cheesecloth.

Last weekend I tried my hand at making the Caraway, Fennel & Olive Cheese. The base is macadamia nuts.  I blended the nuts and probiotics and wrapped up the cheese in my new cheesecloth.

See! Liquid came out!  I was feeling very positive about this experience!  This cheese cultures on the counter for 48 hours.  I had to rinse the bowl because the liquid got stinky (but not the cheese!) but mostly kept my hands off of it.

After 48 hours I stirred in the remaining ingredients and transferred it to a ring mould–the consistency was perfect, no excess liquid!

I placed the cheese in the dehydrator to form a “rind”.

The next morning…

…I nibbled.  WOW!  It was delicious!  But, I held back and wrapped the cheese up and placed it in the refrigerator — this cheese will last awhile, too — and tried it 12 hours later.

A huge success!

Long-time readers know I’m a rather short and sweet kind of cook. I like yummy food but I’d like it to be pretty simple.  Don’t let the length of this process scare you away. Making cheese is very simple. There are just a few steps along the way and patience is required.

I’m going to be making a lot of cheese in the future. And I’ll be using my nut milk bag for milk and use my cheesecloth for cheese!

Have you made vegan cheese?

JL is a food and fitness writer. She blogs at JL goes Vegan:  Food & Fitness with a side of Kale.  You can follow JL on Twitter.

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