Yes, it’s vegan cheese!

I’ve made sauerkraut a couple times. It was pretty easy. Basically you mix diced green cabbage with sea salt, weigh it down with a rot iron pan and lots of books for a few days and, voilà, you’ve got sauerkraut! It’s been several years since I last tasted cheese. My favorites were double cream mushroom brie, Gouda and any stinky French cheese. I gave it up, along with all things dairy, to rid myself of asthma. And it worked. For the last few years there has been a fake meat trend, partnered with lots of varieties of fake cheeses. I’m not so thrilled about the fake meats, but there’s actually something very healthy about vegan cheese varieties. They are made with real ingredients, like nuts and herbs, and they are indeed fermented much like cheese has always been made. Probiotic foods that help digestion, like KimChee and sauerkraut, are right up there with fermented, aged vegan cheese!

My search for the best cheese started with Google, of course. I perused the many non-fermented cheeses that were flavored with lemons and herbs and “yeasted” with nutritional yeast. But I wanted to take it one step further, using a fermentation process. Go straight to your coop probiotic section, where they have all the vitamins, and choose the acidopholous probiotic powder in capsules.

I came across a number of recipes for fermented cheese using nuts like cashews, walnuts, almonds and pine nuts; all of these would lend different textures and flavors. This recipe peaked my interest since I had always preferred a similar, local cashew cheese made by PunkRawkLabs.

2 cups cashews
2 acidopholous probiotic capsules
6 Tablespoons water
2 teaspoons sea salt
Fresh basil, oregano and thyme

Fermenting the cheese
Soak the cashews for 6-8 hours and then rinse. In a high quality, industrial blender (Vitamix) combine the cashews, probiotic powder, fresh herbs and water. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a double-layered cheesecloth, close with a rubber band, cover with Saran wrap, put a heavy weight on top of it, place in a sieve over a deep bowl and let it sit on the counter for 36 hours. Once the cheese has drained most of the water and it has a somewhat dry surface, transfer to a bowl, scrape the remaining moisture from the cheese cloth. Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper and roll small amounts into a log shape. Store the parchment rolls in an airtight container in the fridge to age for 4-6 days. Once it’s ready, transfer rolls to a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Serve with hearty sesame crackers and a good, dirty red wine!