These nut cheese recipes are extremely easy to do, with the advantage of having the same health benefits as dairy cheese with the added probiotics. They can be made to stay a soft, spreading-type or shaped into hard blocks which can be sliced. The most effective way of doing this is to use a dehydrator, but one can also leave the shapes uncovered in the refrigerator and after a day or so a rind will development on the outside.
Various types of nuts can be used (and interchanged), but for the most convincing results use nuts that will mimic the taste of dairy cheese. Use for instance peeled almonds for making feta-style; sweeter cashew nuts or earthy tasting walnuts for making swiss-style; a mix of pine-nuts and brazils for making parmesan or pecorino style nut cheese and macadamia nuts with its higher oil content for making hard cheddar types (add a pinch of curry and turmeric powders to your nut pulp). Seeds, such as sunflower with sesame, or pumpkin seeds on their own also make delicious nut cheeses. Dehydrate the shaped nut blocks or domes until just a rind forms (and the mixture is still semi-soft inside), or dry out further until almost crumbly, depending on the type you're making.
Start by soaking nuts in water. To make things interesting, use two different types of nuts to give a layer effect. Use ¾ cup of raw walnuts and a ¾ cup raw macadamia nuts and soak them separately overnight in two bowls in enough water to cover them.
The next day, drain the water off and rinse the nuts. Keeping them separate, place the nuts in a strong blender or food processor fitted with the steel S-blade. Add ¾ cup filtered water and ½ tsp probiotic powder (this would be for each batch of nuts). Blend until smooth and thick.
Pour the two thick mixtures into 2 muslin cloths or nut milk bags that sit in sieves over bowls to catch the water (whey). Twist the muslin cloths or nut milk bags to remove excess water.
Place a heavy object, like a clean river stone on each of the squeezed nut mixtures. Cover the two bowls with a tea cloth and place somewhere warm (but not in the sun) for 48 hours. In this time, good bacteria will ferment the nut cheese and at the end of 2 days the mixtures will have a faint sour smell.
Transfer the two nut mixtures to two mixing bowls. Add 1 - 2 tbsp of savoury yeast flakes and ½ tsp of salt to each bowl. Stir in any other flavourings of your choice, such as: chopped olives, fresh herbs, spices or even finely grated fresh vegetables, onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes or dried onion and garlic granules or chili flakes. Stir well.
Press the mixture into a container to make a nice shape and then tip it out. This is now ready to eat (a soft nut cheese) and can be sliced. You can also dehydrate the nut cheese for a few hours in order for the nut cheese to form a rind; alternatively if you don't have a dehydrator you can simply unmould the nut cheese onto a plate and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator. After two days the nut cheese would have formed a rind as well.
Keep for 10 days in the refrigerator.
Laurinda Erasmus is a vegan chef and author of a vegan recipe book, called Benessere well-being: vegan & sugar-free eating for a healthy life-style, by Quinoa Publishing. The book has over 520 recipes, each with a colour photograph, taken by the author herself. The book won a gold medal at the Living Now Book Awards in New York, USA. She is passionate about the vast possibilities of creating plant-based meals, the increased wellness and energy through plant nutrition and making a smaller impact on our precious ecosystem. Through her book and vegan classes, she shows healthy and fun ways of how to bring more plant-based meals into one's diet. She also travels extensively, always collecting new recipes and re-writing them as vegan dishes. She shares her tips for vegan travellers and with vegan travel recipes on her blogsite http://veganwellbeing.wordpress.com/ and her book can be viewed at http://www.veganwellbeing.net/