Homemade nut cheese

Whenever I see a food that looks AMAZING, I can’t.get.it.outta.my.mind until I get my fix. It happened recently when a green smoothie -I’ve been thinking about the blended salads I used to make so often!- and again when I read Gena’s post about nut cheese. It’s been quite a while since I’ve had nut-based cheese -it’s particularly incredible with this raw onion bread- but when I was big into my raw kick, it was a favorite snack. I scoured our Whole Foods looking for some, and even though I had no luck, I DID find goat cheese string cheese sticks. I put them in my cart and decided to glance at the price tag. $12! Derp. Back on the shelf they went, haha.

Since they didn’t have the nut cheese in stock, I decided to make my own.

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And while I’m at it, maybe I’ll get into goat string cheese making, too…. ?

Here’s what I did:

(supplies: high speed blender, cheesecloth, large bowl, lemon, nuts of choice -cashews, macadamia nuts and almonds all work well- and seasonings)

I soaked 2 cups of cashews and 1 cup of almonds overnight.

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In the morning, I peeled the almonds -on life’s PITA list I’d rate it quite high, but it’s worth it- and added the almonds to a blender with the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1 clove of minced garlic and 1/2 cup of water.

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Blended it up, and then poured the mixture into some cheesecloth in a bowl:

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I did the exact same thing with the soaked cashew mixture, but left the flavors fairly basic. The only thing that went in was 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, juice of 1/2 lemon,1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and 1 cup of water. I thought it would be fun to do a sweet cheesy mix with the cashews, so I wanted my base to be plain. (Note: you can also blend probiotic powder like acidophilus into your nut cheese mixture to get probiotic power you’d find in traditional dairy cheeses. Of course, talk to your doc before trying any new supplements.)

After the cheese mixtures drained for about an hour in the cheesecloth, I packed each one tightly to remove as much mixture as possible.

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Then, the fun part: adding the flavors!!

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I split the cashew mixture in half, and made a lavender-honey cheese as well as a berry variety. For the berry, I added chopped dried cranberries and orange zest. For the lavender-honey, dried lavender and a drizzle of local honey were absolutely perfect– this was my favorite flavor.

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The almond cheese was destined for spice city with chopped fresh basil, rosemary, dried oregano, dill and pepper.

Once all of the cheese were flavored, I molded them into flat disks and put them in the dehydrator to harden a little bit (at about 105 degrees). They had a sleepover in the dehydrator, and are perfectly tangy and decadent today. I have a couple of good vegan friends that I CAN’T WAIT to surprise with these little treats. (If you don’t have a dehydrator, no worries. You can store them in the fridge as is, or put in the oven at the lowest setting with the door slightly ajar to create a “rind.”)

Have you made homemade cheese before? What’s your favorite type?? Please let me know if you give this a try!!

More of my favorite vegan treats:

–This INSANE chocolate tart

–Red velvet macaroons

–Cool ranch kale chips

–BBQ zucchini chips

-The best chocolate chip cookies

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