Going dairy-free and looking for some other options to fill the cheese void? Don’t start feeling despair just yet! I happen to be just fine in digesting dairy however, my family is not! And as a healthcare practitioner, I’m always looking for ways to not only meet their needs but also to boost the nutrient density of EVERY meal. I love the challenge and the creativity, especially when I landed on a dairy free cashew cheese that I couldn’t stop eating!
Cashews are a type of tree nut so if you are going for nutrient density, they make an excellent base for many different sauces or dips! It also works for the Paleo diet, which is all the rage. Though they aren’t known to pack as much fiber as other nuts, they are full of yummy fats, minerals, and vitamins (E, K, B6, copper, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iron, and selenium, just to name a few).
The hiccup for my family and dairy free cheese is usually texture and consistency. And when trying to replace something that provides that yummy, creamy fix – store prepared dairy free cheeses and boxed milks just don’t do it for most of us (have you seen my almond milk recipe??). That’s why I started playing around in my own kitchen, I thought, “there’s got to be a better, tastier, less expensive option!”
Ingredients for Dairy Free Cheese
1 cup organic, raw, whole cashews
1 probiotic capsule
1/4 cup filtered water
fresh or dried garlic (optional)
salt & pepper (optional)
Here’s the deal: purchase bulk organic and raw whole cashews from the refrigerated section of your grocery store (ok, if that’s not possible, just go to the bulk section and see what they have!). I usually buy a pound at a time and keep them stored in the refrigerator.
Pull out your handy-dandy food processor, Vitamix, or fancy blender and toss in a cup of cashews. Now start by adding just a tiny bit of water to the nuts and processing. The key here is that you only want to add as much water as you need to make a THICK, CREAMY, paste. You don’t want a runny salad dressing type of sauce. You want the consistency of an almond butter or peanut butter! So just go easy with the water until you find that. And if you over-do it, just add a little more cashews! Piece of pie 🙂
Pour into a glass container and open up your probiotic capsule and sprinkle it on the cashew paste. Now mix this up with a fork. If you tend to like tangier cheeses (like the bleu’s!), then don’t hesitate to add a second probiotic to the mixture. Mix it thoroughly. Toss a cheesecloth loosely over the container.
Now here’s the hard part, you are gonna leave it out overnight and potentially for the next few nights! Depending on how warm it is outside and in your house, this process could be fast or slow. The warmer it is, the faster the cheese will ferment. You are going to leave it in a shady spot (on top of the fridge if you want it to happen quickly) and stir and taste it a little each day. At some point it will taste nice and tangy as well as a little bit sour. When that happens, it’s done fermenting and you can begin to keep it in the fridge and ENJOY your dairy free cheese. This is also the point where if you would like to season it, GO FOR IT! I like to add chopped up garlic, pepper, and a little lemon squeeze. And we eat it just like we would a softer cheese! On crackers, on sandwiches, in wraps, melted on top of veggies, you name it!
(Thank you Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net for this gorgeous shot of camembert!)