Before this plant-based life chose me, I was eating the hell out of some cheese, honey. I’m not talking Sargento either. I was all about the cheese life. I lived for a well curated cheese plate full of sometimes stinky creaminess.
But when you know better, you are confronted to do better. Although I loved the fromage, it didn’t love me. I researched and learned more and more about how dairy impacts the body from stomach aches to stuffy noses to acne to even fibroids.
And it’s not just my body. I’m no special case. It’s probably yours too since approximately 68 percent of the world’s population can’t digest dairy well. If you’re Black or Asian, forget about it.
So what do you do when you’re a fromage fiend turned vegan? You either buy some of the delicious plant-based cheeses (Heeeeeey, Miyoko!) that are finally available or if you love to cook like me, you make your own. After falling down a research rabbit hole that involved months of combing through a million recipes and techniques, I developed my own thang.
I soaked a cup of raw cashews for a couple days and to be truly transparent, I only soaked so long because I forgot them. Hey, God is still working on me. Only one day of soaking is actually needed. I’d already started the process almost a week earlier by making a batch of rejuvelac which gives the cheese its characteristic tang.
I then pureed it all to a smooth paste with about a half cup of my homemade rejuvelac (check out my step-by-step), a clove or two of garlic, Himalayan sea salt to taste, and nutritional yeast.
Back to the research… Part of the reason I waited so long to try my hand at cheesemaking is knowing the amount of patience it requires. A week long process may not be a lot for some, but for me, Ms. Snap-Snap-Let’s-Get-It-Done, it’s a challenge. Fortunately like most challenges, there’s always a victory at the end. This victory just happened to be creamy, spicy, and delicious. Back to the steps…
I then placed cheesecloth in small springform pans and added the items I wanted to use as a outer skin for the cheese. The first was a Caribbean-inspired cheese. I always have scotch bonnets and thyme around for various dishes, so I chopped them up finely and placed them on top of the cheesecloth before rubber spatula-ing in the cheese mixture. The second was Italian-inspired with a fresh oregano, red and black pepper encrusting. Both cheeses were topped with their respective spice mixtures and I was super generous with it so that the sides were lightly encrusted as well.
I admit that I tend to shy away from recipes that require patience. I usually just ain’t with it. I also have a very odd fear of spring form pans.
I sat both in a dark, but warm place in my kitchen for 24 hours. After that, I still had to wait another 72 hours for them to set in the refrigerator.
The cheese wasn’t quick, but it is so worth it. It was great on crackers and perfect to add to add to any dishes that need a little creaminess.
Get ready to see more of this and probably some vegan cheese boards for sale this holiday season featuring my own cheeses. I’m obsessed and I’m good at it, so why not?