- High speed blender (I usually say you do not need a high speed blender to prepare raw food recipes, a normal blender works perfectly fine for most recipes – except for the nut cheeses. I have tried to make vegan cheese with my normal blender and also with my food processor but without success.)
- Spatula to scrape the mixture out of the blender
- Either a cheese cloth in combination with a little bit of tape to fix the cloth to a bundle or a Raw Cheese Press (I use the cheese press because as per my experience it is less messy and can be reused)
- Two cups of Macadamia or Cashew nuts
- Half a cup of water
- Two capsules of Probiotics (details about the probiotics follow below)
- One tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
- Two tablespoons fresh squeezed and strained lemon juice (make sure no pulp is in the juice)
- Sea salt to your liking
Information about the Probiotics that I use:
Lactobacillus Acidophilus. Vegan. It should have minimum 2.4 billion units of activity/ friendly bacteria. Minimum 120 mg per capsule. Anything below this concentration doesn’t work. UAE Residents: I bought one of the below brands in UAE at Holland & Barrett. I checked our local organic store first but the concentration was half of the minimum requirements mentioned above and twice as expensive.
So I use two different brands. The first one is from Holland & Barrett, they are almost in all malls in UAE. The jar contains 100 capsules and costs AED 79.The second one is Country Life. The Vegan version has the yellow label. The label states “vegetarian capsules” but they are vegan. I brought this jar in USA. It was $ 17 for 250 capsules.
My preferred nuts to make vegan cheese are either Macadamia nuts or Cashew nuts because they are very fatty and that for make the cheese super creamy.
Soak the nuts for four hours. The reason for soaking is not to release enzyme inhibitors (Macadamia has none) but to make the nuts soft.
Blend the soaked nuts, the water and the probiotics in a high speed blender until smooth. Line the cheese press with the cheese cloth and fill it with the mixture. Press into a shape.
Move it wrapped in the cheese cloth into a mesh strainer and cover the strainer with a cloth (to protect from fruit flys). Place in a dark corner that has air circulation.
Leave to ferment for minimum 24 hours and not longer than 48. Smell the cheese. It has fermented enough when it has a slight sour, fermented smell. If you think its ready split it open and check the inside. It should look spongy. These are air pockets caused by the release of CO2 by the lactobacillus.
Now that the fermentation is complete, stir in or use a food processor to mix in nutritional yeast, sea salt, and lemon juice to thoroughly combine. At this point you can add further spices to your liking, on the below photo for example I added some smoked paprika powder and dried chipotle. My suggestion when flavouring the cheese: Less is more.
To shape the cheese you roll it in parchment paper like a Bon Bon and fix the ends with tape. Or you can use a ring mold.
You can eat it immediately or you can keep it well protected from air in parchment paper in your refrigerator for two weeks and even up to two month. It will just ripen and get more tart as the lactobacillus is working.
This is one way of making vegan cheese- there are many other ways of making them. Check these links to more recipes:
P.S: If you are wondering where to get affordable Macadamia nuts in major quantities in Dubai: I buy them by kilo at the small Iranian stores close to the Gold Souk. Next time when I go I will note the GPS coordinates of my favourite shop and post them here. You should negotiate with the dealers. I usually pay AED 90 for 1 KG of Macadamia nuts from Australia. The Australian Macadamia nuts are smaller than the Brazilian Macadamia and that for cheaper but for the vegan cheese the size is not important.
If you have any advice or helpful comments please post them below.