Happy 2019, everyone!! Hope you enjoyed the holidays. They always seem to pass by in a blink, don’t they? Aside from stuffing my face full of tasty eats, I said ‘nah’ to the snowblower and instead, shovelled the snow to help burn off some of those hard earned calories. There was A LOT of it…snow – the wet kind too. Winter just can’t seem to make up its mind. Rain, snow, rain, snow. It sure makes for some interesting driving conditions!…which I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about since TurboPearl joined the family. She handles the roads like a boss.
SO, I’ve been dabbling in making my own nut cheeses. Although, I didn’t eat much cheese prior to being vegan, many of my (all time) favourite meals did include some cheese. Just enough to compliment, not drown it. There are not many vegan cheese options available at my local grocers, so I decided to do some research and acquire a few simple tools. Seeing as I’m a HUGE fan of gut health, I’m currently making cheeses that do use live cells – probiotics. It also gives the cheese that authentic sharp taste reminiscent of perfectly aged cheddar or goats’ cheese. Yum.
This Herb (Cashew)Cheese Ball was my first attempt at making nut cheese (that’s how easy it is!), and I couldn’t have been more happy with the turnout. It does require about 48hrs of rest and some refrigeration time before it’s ready to eat, but that’s exactly what makes it SO good. Those live cells need the right amount of time to ‘do their thing’. Too much time, and you’ll end up with mold. Too little, and you won’t get that lovely sharp taste good cheese is known for.
Room temperature is an important factor too. I actually kept my house temperature between 66-68*F for the sake of this cheese. Normal in my house is about 63*F…a little on the cool side for most. Many of the resources I read gave the tip of placing the cheese in a *gas oven as the pilot light was a good source of heat. However, my kitchen actually runs a few degrees lower than the rest of my house, so my gas oven wasn’t an option. Choose a spot in your home you feel will maintain a consistent temperature as it’s one of the most important aspects of cheese making. Other important aspects include the amount of liquid & live cells to add.
After reading many different nut cheese recipes and tips, the amount of liquid to add has to be the one item that varied the most amongst authors. If too much, you’ll end up with a mushy cheese. Too little, and you won’t achieve a smooth consistency. My recipe below was the least amount of liquid I could add and still be able to achieve a smooth consistency. Because I was erring on the side of less ‘moisture’, I decided to use dried herbs and powders. I also felt that dried herbs would maintain their colour, flavour, and structure better than fresh.
Up their in importance with what amount of liquid to add would be the amount of live cells. This too, I found ranged greatly amongst authors – anywhere from 15billion to 65billion live cells. I went with a cool 50billion per 2cups of soaked raw cashews. Based on my findings, I would have used anywhere from 35-50billion, but seeing as my local health food grocer had 50billion on hand, I went with it. Since the length of time your cheese rests determines its sharpness, I have yet to learn more about what the actual count of live cells contributes (aside from flavour, texture, and gut health benefits). What I do know, it makes for some GOOD cheese!
*Side note, but a very helpful one…I find the best results are when the cheese has sat in the fridge for at least 3-5days, wrapped & undisturbed. This gives a chance for it to continue drying out, and allow the flavours to enhance further.
Gatherings are all about sharing, and this cheese ball is a delicious dairy-free options that guests will love to dig into. The addition of live cells gives this creamy cheese a delicious sharp flavour that pairs well with a variety of delectable dippers.
- 2 cups raw cashews – soaked in water at least 6hrs or overnight, & drained
- 1/2 cup non-chlorinated water
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1&1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 50 billion live cell *dairy-free probiotic capsule or equivalent (anywhere from 35-50billion is good)
- 1 tbsp dried dill
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 3/4 cup roasted shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
Tools needed include cheese cloth or nut milk bag, high speed blender, probiotic capsules as per necessary live cell count, non-chlorinated water, and a nonreactive bowl (plastic, stainless steel, ceramic, or glass) & spatula. *Carefully sanitize the bender (blades, temper, & lid), bowl, and spatula by using boiling hot water prior to use.
*I soaked my cashews over night to give them time to absorb as much water as possible to assist with creating a creamier cheese.
In a high speed blender, add the soaked cashews and non-chlorinated water. Blend on high for a couple minutes or until the blade is no longer ‘blending’ the cashews. Stop the blender.
Add the nutritional yeast, sea salt, and fresh lemon juice. Continue blending on high, stopping intermittently to scrape down the sides of the blender pitcher with a spatula. Continue with this process until a smooth consistency is reached – it took me about 10mins to get to a consistency I was happy with.
Use the spatula to transfer your cheese mixture into a bowl. Carefully pull apart the live cell capsule and dump the powder into the bowl. Add the dried dill, basil, parsley, garlic & onion powder. Fold until everything is well combined.
Transfer your nut mixture to your nut milk bag or cheese cloth. If using cheese cloth, ensure you’ve overlapped the cloth a few times to provide additional support (one layer may be too thin).
*Be careful not to touch the cheese with your hands. You want to limit ‘outside’ bacteria from getting into your cheese.
Place the cheese either on one side of your nut milk bag, or in the centre of your cheese cloth. Twist the top of the bag/cloth to secure the cheese in its place. Now, place the ‘bagged’ cheese into a clean bowl tucking in where needed to prevent the ‘twist’ from unravelling. You want your cheese to be able to breathe.
Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and set in a warm, draft-free spot. The temperature should be between 66-68*F.
Allow the cheese to rest, undisturbed for 48hrs. You should be able to smell the progress of your cheese within the first 10-12hrs. If you have a warmer spot for your cheese, it may be ready sooner. *Don’t be afraid to give your cheese a taste. Just be sure to use a clean non-reactive utensil, and to twist things back up if it’s not quite ready.
Once your cheese has rested, use a spatula to remove it from the bag/cloth and onto a large piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper. I used plastic wrap so I could easily mold it into a ball.
Refrigerate for at least 6-8hrs. Remove from the fridge, unwrap the cheese, and roll it in some roughly chopped, lightly roasted shelled pistachios.
Serve with your favourite crackers, fruits, and vegetables.
Keep cheese wrapped & refrigerated when not serving. Good for 2weeks.
~ I find the best results are when the cheese has sat in the fridge for at least 3-5days, undisturbed. This gives a chance for it to continue drying out, and allow the flavours to enhance further.