Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cashew Cheese

Don't die of shock. I'm updating again. I really love fermented nut cheese. It has a complexity and depth of flavor that isn't found in most nondairy cheese. Living in Nashville, I can be lazy and buy the wonderful stuff made by Journey to Bliss - and I often do, especially the pistachio cheddar. However, it is easy to make. I learned from the amazing Laura Button, founder of Journey to Bliss. Here's how:

1. Make a grain-based rejuvelac: Put about 1/4 cup (I never measure this) of some whole grain (or grain-equivalent like quinoa) in a quart of water, cover loosely, and let it set on the counter for a couple of days, until it begins to bubble. I stir mine once or twice a day to help it along. This time, I used whole wheat, and left it three days. It gets stronger as it goes, so be mindful. Drain the liquid - this is your rejuvelac. The leftover grain will often sprout, or can be ground up to make crackers, or cooked as cereal, etc.

2. Grind up nuts or seeds. A coffee grinder does a good job. I used cashews, as they were on sale at the Indian grocery last week. You have to experiment to see what you like. Sunflower seeds are good, but will oxidize (so don't freak out that the cheese gets dark edges). Almonds can be grainy - so you may want to soak them really well before using. Mix the ground nuts with enough rejuvelac to get a texture close to what you want for your final result. It will lose some moisture while it hangs, but not a huge amount. You can add spices, salt, etc, at this point. I used some kosher salt, and 8th Wonder spice blend (which I discovered thanks to a high school friend who now does omni cooking videos - Ken Blevins).

3. Wrap in cheesecloth and hang over a bowl. I pass chopsticks through the knot - see photo. Leave this out at room temperature for a couple of days - again, it will get stronger with time, so you may want to sample as you go. When fermented enough for you, refrigerate and it will keep several weeks.
As you can see in the photo, my batch of cashew cheese is of the soft, spreadable sort. You can make a firmer block. I haven't tried to make a hard cheese like Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheese - that's a project for another day!


Mihl said...

Thank you for this post! I often wondered what rejuvelac was and you not only explained it but also providid info on how to make it at home! I'm often sprouting grains, i wish I'd known that there was such a great use for the water.

Tami (Vegan Appetite) said...

My first thought was "OMG, John posted AGAIN!". And what a cool post it is. Thanks for all that info.

julie hasson said...

Very cool John! I'm so tempted to give this a try. First though, I must experiment with the okara tempeh. Too many fun cooking projects...

kittee said...

oh cool! i might try this this week, if i get my other stuff done.


kmouse said...

That looks good. I may have to try this fermenting nut cheese business!