Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dairy Free Cashew Cheese (GAPS, Paleo, Vegan)

My new favorite passion is Cashew Ricotta Cheese! I make this stuff at least twice a week. It is FULL of probiotics and it tastes amazing. Cashew cheese is SUPER easy to make, but you do have to plan head, as it requires quite a few hours of soaking and then even more time for fermenting. You are probably wondering if it really tastes like 'cheese'. That depends on what kind of cheese you are talking about. I find that it taste most like a ricotta or cream cheese, with it's texture being far more like ricotta. Don't worry, you don't even taste the 'cashew' part so much once it is fermented.

I love to dollop this cheese on flat breads, fill vegetable tarts, as well as make vegan ranch dressing and all kinds of sauces. I even added it to my Cream Cheesy Fauxtatato recipe for a great cream cheese mashed potato taste. I could go on all day about this wonderful nut cheese!

You can really use any kind of nut to make this cheese. Cashews and macadamias tend to produce a nice neutral flavor but almonds work well too. If using almonds, you will need to pull off their skins after soaking.

The most challenging  part in making nut cheese is the 'blending'. If you own a regular old blender you will have to work a little harder to get a nice smooth consistency (but don't worry, I make mine in a regular old blender) However I will say Vita-Mixers do work the best!

No matter what tools you use, be patient while blending, stir often, and add only as much liquid as you must to to keep things moving.

This is one of the simplest cheese recipes to make requiring only three ingredients. In the very near future, we will explore making other more intricate nut cheeses. But really this is my favorite one because of it's versatility.

Cashew Ricotta Cheese

(Dairy Free, GAPS, Paleo, Primal, Vegan, Gluten Free)

3 cups cashews, soaked 4 hours
2-3 capsules probiotic powder (at least 10-15 billion organisms like THIS one)
1/2 cup water ( I use more or less, depending on how it's blending)


In a food processor: Blend the soaked cashews and water till smooth. I like to add my water in sections, using more or less as needed. Mix in the probiotic powder (the pro-biotic powder is important to the "culturing" of the cashews, benefiting flavor, texture and digestion)

Line a sieve with a double thickness of cheesecloth and place over a bowl. (when I get my mixture thick enough, I've even done without the cheese cloth, just fermented it in the bowl and it came out great!)

Transfer the mixture to the sieve, drape the cheesecloth over the top, cover with a towel and let it sit in a warm place to ripen for 12-16 hours (depending on how tart you want it).  You can use your oven with the light on or you can use a dehydrator. It will take longer to ferment if it is in a cold environment and less time if done in an optimal environment.

Transfer to an air tight container and use within 3-4 days. It will firm up even more as it sits in the fridge. If it gets thick enough you can season, make into little rounds and roll them in a nut mixture and chill again for a nice festive 'cheese ball'.

Season as desired. Try a scoop of it with some salt, chives and a little water for a great vegetable dip. Add liquid to thin it out....This is really just a base recipe, so be creative.