This is a very detailed walk through of how to make raw vegan nut cheese. The following recipe is based on lengthy trial and error, on my part, in discovering the most enzyme rich, potent, and nutritional nut based lactofermented food (most lactofermentation takes place with vegies, and I want nuts). This isn’t my exact recipe (industrial cheese maker secrets, mind you), but it’s definitely something to get your own career in cheesery started. Making your own cheeses is fun and a great way of saving money from having to buy pre-made cheeses at the store… which, as I keep saying, are overpriced. Making your own is always better, higher quality, and cheaper. Besides it means you can call yourself a cheese maker… and that means you are blessed.
The Raw Vegan Nut and Seed Cheeses
My primary focus here will be in making a cashew cheese as cashew is the most popular nut. I encourage you to experiment with other nuts and seeds like sunflower, pumpkin, macadamia (a must), brazil nut, etc… Young coconut flesh is one of my favorite ingredients as it ferments with spices very well. All these provide their own unique flavor and array of vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins. Once you get into it, nut and seed cheeses become a very personal thing where everyone develops their own method and even culture. When you make a cheese always save about one cup (or more) of the old cheese to include in the next batch, along with the other standard starters of your choice, that way you end up developing your own bacteria culture truly unique to you, your environment, and even personality. As I believe is the case with plants, where a mutual symbiotic relationship between the caretaker and the plant is established, so too does this take place with you and the lovely colonies in your cheese. It is similar to beer making or sourdough bread where each brewer or baker has their own unique microorganisms/bacterias/cultures responsible for fermentation. Doing so effectively yields a unique flavor for each individual doing this.
What you’ll need:
*A glass jar with rubbery gaskets to keep the container from being too aerated. Note that if you over aerate the cheese it will encourage the growth of yeasts over that of lactobacilli. DO NOT ferment in metallic or plastic containers. Plastic will leach chemicals into the cheese (I’m not comfortable with the non-leaching plastics either), and metal will damage some of the more sensitive cultures and encourage oxidation (oxidized fats). Metal containers deteriorate the food. Oxidation is often triggered by metal(s), and fats are very susceptible to this (that’s why butter should not be stored in metal containers).
*A blender (I use Vitamix)
*1/2 pound of cashews (or any other nut). I usually have to use 2-3 pounds, because I’m the cheesemaker of a colorful community of peoples… So the pictures used here are according to those quantities.
*A starter. Starters are what trigger the fermentation process. They are the life that will breathe life into the resulting nut-mush and make it fluffy cheese. Starters can be obtained from any raw lactofermented foods. If you are making your own sauerkrauts, kimchis, water kefirs, coconut kefirs, etc… then all you need to do is add at the least a cup and a half (or more) of the liquid from these and you’d be set. If you do not make any of these, then either try making your own water kefirs (which just involves ordering water kefir grains and throwing them into coconut water) OR grab some raw sauerkraut, or raw kimchi, from an health-food store (like whole foods). Use the liquid, and a handful of the fermented vegetables for the cheese. Another alternative is to use Rejuvelac.
But again, if you are going to make cheese, try making water kefir from young coconuts! It’s fun.
*Dulse , or any other seaweed, (preferably raw). I use dulse to feed the cultures minerals. Minerals are to cultures what cultures are to minerals. If there is a deficiency of either one then the other will suffer. For example, if an individual is enzyme deficient in their diet then they are normally going to have a mineral deficiency of some kind as well. Enzymes break down minerals and make them available in a digestible and usable way for your body (inorganic minerals are turned to organic minerals), as well as cleanse your body of mineral deposits (dead minerals that calcify in organs, joints, etc), which some researchers trace back to commercial mineral supplements (which are inorganic non-assimilable), or today’s drinking water. Not only do minerals benefit in terms of digestibility for the human counterpart, but cultures need minerals just as much as sugars to thrive healthily. They grow better as the environment is more ideal. They are like plants in many ways in that if you provide the right environment (“soil conditions”) for them they will thrive. By adding a natural mineral rich plant source, also rich in mineral based salt, (seaweed!) you boost the potency of the cheese. It rises fast and healthy. Salts in the sea vegetables also prevent the white kahm yeast from growing. Kahm yeasts are harmless aerobic organism and they are often used as house yeast starters, but you don’t want them in the case of lactofermenting because they make your brew taste funny.
*Coconut creme. Coconut creme is to harden the cheese later, after it’s been placed in the fridge. The cheese will grow to twice the size it was when first placed in the container. Adding coconut creme (because of the oils in it) will cause the cheese to harden in the fridge and prevent it from “flopping”. It’s a lot like making traditional cheese souffle. It’s sensitive and should be handled carefully at this stage. The coconut ensures that it “cooks” well in the fridge. Coconut oil also has the added health benefits of working with the probiotics by protecting some more sensitive strands during digestion, insuring that they reach your colon (which effectively attack/kill candida).
*Your optional spices. You can mix spices with the cheese during fermentation. The spices take very well and the cheese always tastes amazing. Things like garlic, chives, dried onion granules, oregano, fresh rosemary, west indies rub, or cracked black pepper… You can even add sun-dried tomatoes, dried mushrooms, or olives.
*Optionally: Your 1 cup or more of cheese from last time.
In a locked and loaded blender add:
*The 1 cup of the cheese from last time.
*The starter. As well as (if this is your starter) a handful of sauerkraut or kimchi.
*The handful of dulse.
*The 2-3 heaped tablespoons of coconut creme. The more the harder the cheese will be when it’s done, BUT NOT TOO MUCH else you’ll end up with wax.
*Add the cashews.
*Once thoroughly blended pour it into containers. Remember that it will normally rise to twice it’s size. If you fill it too high it will crawl out of the container and possibly kill you in your sleep.
*Place into a dark warm area. I use a food dehydrator as I can control the temperature. They like it warm. If temperatures are too cold it inhibits incubation.
*Wait 14+ hours. It’s done when you see a lot of bubbles in what was once paste (looks like bread), and it’s risen to half its size.
Raw Brazil Nut cheese.
*Place in fridge immediately! Be careful when handling it so it does not flop. It will stay fluffy once it hardens in the fridge.
You are officially a cheese maker.
You are blessed.
You can shape these into little cheese balls and roll them in spices, sprinkle it on young coconut noodles, sea spaghetti, or spiralized zucchini as a substitute for feta, use it with dehydrated flax crackers as a substitute for cream cheese. Non-spiced cheese is great as a main filling ingredient in making a raw vegan cheese cake. There are many ways to use this life-rich and diverse food.
A barrel of raw cashew cheese.
Raw Macadamia Nut Cheese.
Young Thai Coconut cheese with Curry.
When To Make Cheese: The Optimal “Cheese Seasons”
Now here’s a very interesting bit about lactofermentation. It has, what you could regard as, “seasons” based on lunar cycles. If you are interested in the science of it read the publication “Cosmic Influences” from Dolisko, Eugen and L. Kolisko (Agriculture of Tomorrow). Kolisko Archive (originally published in 1939), at The Soil and Health Library. Click here for their agriculture collection.
That paper is the most extensive and thorough publication on the mater and well worth the curiosity.
Basically, how this works is that at the change of each moon, about 5 days before full and new moon, the probiotics will be most active, in terms of growth.
The day/night of full moon they will be very active, the strongest.
The day/night of new moon (I call this the “dead moon”) they will be the least active, and lactofermentation of food will most likely fail or suffer in quality.
RIGHT after the change of moon, activity is inactive (dead), wait at least five days.
Five days AFTER the activity is back to normal and will continue to grow until the moon changes again.
The period before new moon is very powerful for lactofermentation, it is also interesting to note that cuts will heal less, plant harvests such as fruits are typically juicier and sweeter, and plant growth is accelerated. It’s an accelerated growing period.
The period before full moon is the same. Full moon is when animal, insect, and parasites breed (a most excellent period for lactofermentation).
A parasitologist I used to know would jokingly point out that people will eat a lot before the change of each moon, especially on full, because the intestinal parasites in them are breeding and triggering eating behavior in their human hosts. She would comment that parasites are smarter than people. They control our moods and reactions. Thus our aggressive behavior at this time of the month (full moon has a lot of “haunted” folklore surrounding it). The most predominant parasites (intestinal parasites, to be exact) in the western world (modern life) live primarily in the colon and other digestive organs (they know where our heart is). The human digestive tract will often be called “the second brain” (one half of your nerve cells are located in your gut). Parasites take their primary place of residency there, and will trigger instinctual behavior (such as eating or aggressive behavior if urges aren’t met) in order to insure their propagation and well being.
The fun thing about all this is that lactofermentation kills them off by making the environment there unsuitable for them (restoring a healthy body ecology instead of an unhealthy one).
My conclusion based on very thorough personal research as well as personal experience (in friends and myself) is that; consumption of lactofermented foods coupled with a natural raw lifestyle creates the incorrect environment for them to sustain themselves in. Lactofermented foods are a good thing to eat to keep them in check.
So spread the love! Be your own raw vegan cheese maker!
A Little Background On Lacto Fermentation
Lactofermentation is an effective means of enhancing the nutritional and digestible qualities of the food as well as adding enzymes to enzyme dead foods. They will rescue food. Foods that have been subject to treatment or are nutritively low benefit from this. If you do not have organic produce available, a.e. must use inorganic nuts, coconut, or the produce that has been subjected to irradiation (many commercial supermarkets will carry irradiated produce, such as lettuce) then the best way to “clean” the food up and put life back into it is through lactofermentation.
Lacto fermentation does not involve milk. The lactose intolerant need not be put off by the name. It is the process of introducing healthful cultures (probiotics, bacteria, and sometimes yeasts) into vegetables, seeds, or nuts, and letting them naturally ferment the food to create a probiotic bomb that will propagate healthful intestinal flora. Lactofermentation is different from alcoholic fermentation as it does not involve yeasts. The alcohol content, if any, is so minute that it has no effect on the body.
Lactofermentation partially digests vegetables, and in case of nuts (in raw vegan cheeses) make the oils readily available and easily digestible for the body. It also eats up all inorganic salts (turning them into organic minerals), and simple carbohydrates (such as sugars).
By maintaining healthy intestinal flora one successively kills, wards off, or otherwise protects their body from parasites, detrimental bacteria, yeasts, fungus, etc, and replaces them with healthy ones. Probiotics assist the body’s naturally occurring flora to reestablish themselves. Our bodies contain an ecology of microbes. Humans have ten times more bacteria than human cells. Our healthful ecology can be easily damaged or thrown off balance by a range of circumstances such as antibiotics (which utterly destroy stomach and colon flora often causing ulcers and a variety of other conditions), use of drugs (medical and illegal substances), excess alcohol, exposure to toxins, and use of antibacterial soaps. When we subject our bodies to such conditions the bacteria that work for our bodies (symbiosis) decrease in number and this provides the environment for harmful competitors to the detriment of our health (bacteria, yeasts such as candida, intestinal parasites). Your body naturally creates healthful bacteria.
Regularly consuming fermented foods as part of ones diet is widely known (in the rest of the world, not necessarily in American medicine) to have powerful anti-aging properties, and keep the immune system high enough to ward off diseases. For example, during flu season Germans will eat a lot of raw sauerkraut to maintain a strong immune system. Kombucha dates back thousands of years and in Ancient China it was touted as a beverage enabling people to live forever. In remote areas where the tea is regularly self-brewed and consumed, illnesses such as the flu are unheard of and people look young well into their old age. More recently, natural probiotic rich foods are also being researched and successfully used as “the missing link” in treating autism…
Different fermentation processes create different types of probiotics. It involves natural bacteria that resides in the vegetables and air (sauerkraut, for example, will be very rich in vitamin K). Fermentation methods will range from sauerkraut, kimchi, (vegan or milk based) kefir, kombucha, water kefirs, amazing raw ajvar, yogurts (vegan or milk based). We (that’s me and a couple of friends) have tried brewing/preparing/utterly ruining pretty much all of these, plus some, so I’m well aware of all the epic to-not-do’s… That said, the above recipe (and upcoming ones) should be pretty fool-proof.
Nuf sed. Now feed that shit to a critic, skeptical of your culinary prowess, and watch their eyebrows raise in amazement… or further scrutiny.