Jan
12

Caaaa-shew

by , under Uncategorized

No, I’m not sneezing. Just trying to be cute and catchy with the title. I may need to stop that.

I grew up in a nut-loving family. We often went out as a family to collect black walnuts and hickory nuts. Few batches of fudge were made at Christmastime with walnuts added (not my favorite, I must say). Of course, several packages of assorted nuts were purchased at the holidays. Our year-round go-to nut were peanuts–though not really a nut.

My favorite nuts were–and continue to be–cashews. I could eat them by the bucketload. Seriously. I didn’t, of course. Actually, they were a treat in our house. Though they were readily available, they were considerably more expensive than the peanut and, of course, those we could pick for free at certain times of the year. So the cashew was treated with reverence.

In researching nondairy cheeses and other products, I was pleasantly surprised how many called for cashews or listed them as an option. So considering my love for cashews, it was only natural I try them.

My first experiment was cashew cheese. There are several recipes for it and videos available online. Mine is based on Miyoki Schinner’s recipe in Artisan Vegan Cheese.  Most recipes for vegan cheese, hers included, call for rejuvelac. There’s nothing complicated about it. You sprout wheat berries (others can be used) and let them sit until the water is cloudy and there is a lemony taste. So when you’re making cashew cheese, start that about 3 days ahead.

The night before (or at least 4 hours before) making cashew cheese, soak 2 cups of UNSALTED cashews in filtered water. This plumps them up and softens them for the processing stage. If you have a powerful blender (I have a Vitamix), some say you can skip this stage. I don’t.

Culturing cashew cheese

When it’s time to make your cheese, put the well-drained nuts into your blender. Then add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of your rejuvelac.  Note: if you’ve soaked your cashews, you probably will only need the lesser amount.

SCREECH to a halt.

Okay, that’s what Miyoko’s recipe says, and it was my intention to do so. I even made rejuvelac. Or at least tried to. I followed instructions to the letter, but what resulted smelled like rotting feet. And I can’t say there was much of a lemony taste. I don’t really know how to describe the taste, but let’s say I can’t imagine anyone willingly drinking it, and there are people who swear by its benefits.

But being the stubborn cuss I am, there was no way I was going to just give up on cheese. For crying out loud–we’re talking cheese, here. So I did some research. Okay, there were people who used lemon juice. Hmmm. But then I started thinking about it. The primary role of the rejuvelac, at least from what I could gather, is to act as a culturing agent. Hmm, I have cultured yogurt. With live cultures, even. So I decided to use that.

But how much? Good question. The amount of liquid you add depends on how much is needed to facilitate processing. Err on the side of less. I didn’t. I kept thinking it needed more, so I added more. I don’t recall how much I ended up with, but it was more than what I needed.

Pasta with red bell pepper and cashew cheese sauce

Cashew cheese on homemade pumpernickel

After you have the desired consistency, place in a glass bowl and cover to culture. Let sit on the counter until you like the taste. I let mine sit for about 3 days. Then I added a wee bit of salt and some turmeric and put it in a mold to harden in the fridge for a couple of days.

SCREECH to another halt.

Despite what I found online, my cheese didn’t firm up very much. I may be wrong, but I’m guessing it was because of my overzealousness with the yogurt. Regardless, it is a very tasty cheese. I used it as a spread and as a pasta sauce (save some of the pasta cooking water). I’m going to try other versions to get the firm cheese I want, but this one is definitely on my “Will make again” list.

© Copyright 2017 Ida Walker, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Enabling Cook
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2 Comments for this entry

  • Linda S

    I wonder if a cheese press would help? I never get the firmness from homemade (dairy) cheese that I want, except the time I made feta and did actually use a press.

  • Ida Walker

    I wondered about using a press. I did put a container of water on top of it, and it didn’t firm up much. I thought about using my press, but since it didn’t firm up with the water, I figure it was the nature of the beast. And now you have me thinking about making feta again.

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