Homemade Vegan Cheese; Who Knew?!

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Remember we talked about the importance of healthy gut flora and how to improve your digestion a while ago?

I gave you several tips on how to do this and encouraged you to be diligent about caring for your digestive system.

Well, my good friend, Steph Jackson, shared some wonderful recipes with me on how to make your own vegan cheese.  It is more of a cream cheese, but cheese none-the-less.

During the holidays, I decided to make this cheese.  It was absolutely delicious!  So I wanted to share with you.

The process begins by making your own starter.  The starter is used to give the cheese its’ flavour and its’ healing power.  The starter contains billions of good bacteria to keep your gut happy.  You even have the ability to choose which bacteria these will be.  It all depends on which probiotic and which ‘yogurt starter’ you use to make the starter.  Isn’t that awesome?

I was unsuccessful in finding a non-dairy yogurt starter in my area, (I am still looking) so I used a non-dairy probiotic, in place of the starter, by a company called Primal Defense.

Starter

Ingredients:
1 litre almond milk
1/2 teaspoon yogurt starter
1/2 teaspoon probiotic (preferably non-dairy)
2 Tablespoons raw cane sugar (this gets eaten by the bacteria and will not affect you)

Procedure:

  • Gently blend (or simply stir) the starter, probiotic and sugar into the almond milk
  • Pour into a clean glass dish and cover
  • Place in a warm place that is between 42-44C or 107F-111F
    • oven with light on
    • in dehydrator set at 42C
    • on top of dehydrator
    • wrap it up in an electric blanket on the lowest setting possible
  • Leave it there for 8-12 hours or until it has a strong yogurty taste

Now you are ready to make the cheese.

The recipe below uses only 2/3 cup starter.  Any extra can be divided in an ice cube tray, frozen and then kept in a ziplock or other freezer-safe container until you are ready to use it.  This starter can also be used to make more starter.

Go to www.stephjackson.com and sign up for her free ebook on making vegan yogurt and cheese.  Her starter recipe from above is included and gives many more details on making foods with probiotics.

To make a cream cheese to which you can add a variety of flavours, use the following recipe:

Cashew Cheese

Ingredients:
3 cups cashews, soaked at least 4 hours
2/3 cups water
2/3 cups starter
1 teaspoon Himalayan salt

Procedure:

  • In a high speed blender or food processor, blend together the cashews and the water until smooth.
  • Add the starter and mix together until smooth and thick
  • Pour the starter into a nut milk bag or cheesecloth and place in a colander.  If possible, place a weight on top of this and place a bowl underneath to catch any moisture
  • Place this in the same place you kept the starter (at 42-44C) and leave it there for 12-24 hours
  • Now you mix in the salt and then you can add more flavours

My daughter and I tested all of Steph’s cheese recipes (photo of the results above) and we created one of our own; a herb and garlic cream cheese.  Steph has an e-course with many recipes using whole foods and live cultures.  I highly recommend signing up.  It is a great course.

Here is the recipe that I created with my daughter:

Herb and Garlic Cream Cheese

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients:
1 cup of cashew cheese (including the salt)
1 teaspoon lime juice, preferably freshly squeezed
2 large cloves fresh garlic, pressed
1 Tablespoon Herbes de Provence (this is a mixture of the following herbs: savory, thyme, rosemary, basil, tarragon, lavender flowers)
1/2-1 teaspoon Himalayan salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground and coarsely ground black pepper

Procedure:

  • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl
  • Serve with your favourite crackers or veggies

My family gobbled this up!  Even my parents and siblings loved it.  They had no idea that it was raw or vegan or good for them.  Thank you Steph.

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