A slight alteration on an earlier recipe, this is another beautiful soft vegan cheese that is perfect served with crackers and fruit. I use the same fermented cheese base as in previous recipes, which takes a few days, but is simple and quick at each part of that process. The hardest part is waiting! We fought the temptation and left it in the fridge for a week before tasting and it was SO worth the wait. Extra cheesy, beautifully soft and fantastic crunchy edges from rolling in more nuts. This is so much easier than it looks, I promise you, anyone can make their own nut cheese. You get to control exactly what goes into it! No salt, no oil, no processed ingredients, just beautiful whole food ingredients.
I tried my first soft cheese ball many many years ago at my friend Sarah’s parents house. Sarah’s Mum, Christine, is a fantastic cook and regardless of the time of day always offered a meal whenever you were there- one of the reasons my boyfriend at the time, now my husband, liked going there! I remember getting the recipe from her later and while my version is obviously different being vegan, every time I make a cheese ball I think of her and wonder what she’d think of my nut cheese creations! We often associate certain foods or meals with people or memories, it’s such a lovely part of cooking traditions. I miss this a bit since all my food memories from when I was younger are foods or recipes based on animal ingredients. But my Mum recently said to me I should be veganising all the recipes from her ‘big red book’, the recipes she has created and collected over the years and handed on to me. So my new project is to do just that. I have altered some recipes from it before, but as it is predominantly a baking book, it seemed daunting because I also avoid refined ingredients like salt, oils and sugars these days. But I have created some beautiful and tasty recipes based on standard recipes, like the Vegan Sticky Toffee Pecan Pudding, so there really is no excuse!
Moving on to this recipe. I prefer to use my own rejuvelac to culture the nuts, it just tastes better, but probiotic powder can be used instead with water, see below. I personally like some chopped dill in my cheeses, but you could easily omit and still have a wonderful flavour. This time I just used dill for rolling, other times I will add to the cheese mix after blending. In my earlier walnut and apricot cheese I used salt, but as with all my recipes lately I don’t use any salt here and honestly I don’t think it changes the end result.
Making your own Rejuvelac may seem like a bit of a pain, but really that is even easier to do than this cheese and so good to have around to add to vegan cheese sauces, and to make sure you have your own steady stream of cheeses! Again, this is just about planning, start sprouting a week before you want the cheese ready and you’ll have time for each process.
Don’t be afraid of the fermenting part of the basic cheese mix. I use a large plastic water jug. I tie a knot in the nut bag I have poured the nut cheese into and then hang that over the jug, using the excess material of the bag to tie to the handle which keeps it suspended. This allows the nut mix to drain off a bit of excess liquid and starts the culturing or fermenting process. Make sure you pop a plate or something over the top to prevent too much air getting at it or dust etc falling into it. The instructions say to leave the finished cheese in the fridge for at least 2 hours, mostly to firm up a little. Thats the minimum time, we prefer to leave a week to let the flavours develop further. But if you cannot bear to wait that long, you’ll still get a seriously tasty nut cheese!
You will need to pre-soak cashew nuts for minimum 12 hours
Preparation Time: 2 days to culture cheese
You will need a good blender for this recipe
Makes one medium sized soft cheese ball
- 250g cashew nuts, soaked for at least 12 hours
- 1/2 cup rejuvelac ( OR 2 probiotic capsules & 1/2 cup water )
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder ( optional )
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
- 1/3 cup diced unsulphured dried apricots
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts and 1 tablespoon chopped dill, for rolling the ball
- Drain and rinse soaked cashews.
- Pop into a blender with the rejuvelac, nutritional yeast and garlic powder if using. Blend well until creamy and smooth. You may need to stop and start or use a tamper tool.
- Pour and scrap into a nut milk bag or some muslin cloth, and suspend over a jug or similar. I use a large jug and tie the end of the nut milk bag to the handle so it just hangs into the jug. Then I cover with a plate. Leave like this for 24 hours.
- Untie the cheese ball and place in an airtight container and pop in the refrigerator for another 24 hours.
- Add the lemon juice, walnuts and dried apricots and combine either with a spoon or with clean hands.
- Shape into a ball and roll in some chopped nuts and dill. Cover well with cling film.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container and serve anytime after about 2 hours.