Friday, July 01, 2011

Raw Vegan Hazelnut Cheese

Raw Vegan Hazelnut Cheese

The first time I tasted nut 'cheese' was at VegFest 2010 at Portland, Oregon. I can still remember the explosion in my tastebuds when I put that delicious cheese made of Hazelnuts by Heidi Ho Organics into my mouth! Mmmm mmm!

It's such a pity they were only giving out samples that day. DH and I wanted to buy loads to stuff our faces with. Needless to say, the next time I'm at Portland, Ima gettin' me some Heidi Ho hazelnut cheese.

Heidi Ho Organics Hazelnut Cheese at VegFest 2010

Since nut and seed cheeses are made of raw nuts and seeds which have been put through a fermentation process, they are rich in enzymes, nutrients and lactobacilli (the good kind of bacterial cultures). A most delectable way to put probiotics into your system! :)

I've been wanting to experiment with nut cheese making for a while now but I was under the impression that it is a difficult task and that it needs some 'exotic' ingredients like miso or dulse. That was until I saw this recipe by Dr. Nandita Shah on the Sharan India website. From the first step until the cheese is ready for consumption it takes a few days so it is time consuming process, but the effort which you need to put into it is hardly much. With patience, anyone can make raw, vegan cheeses right in their home. And as we already know, homemade is always the tastiest and healthiest option. :)

So couple of days ago, on a whim I decided to attempt making nut cheese. Luckily, I already had a little bit of rejuvelac on hand and it was enough for the small, experimental quantity I intended to begin with. I decided to go for hazelnuts. Firstly because I was out of cashews and almonds and secondly because hazelnut cheese is the only kind I'd ever tasted (and loved!).

I pretty much followed Dr. Nandita's recipe except that after the cheese was ready, I pressed out the water from the it by putting it into a cloth bag inside a colander and placing a weight over it overnight. I preferred the taste and texture of the pressed version more than the softer kind.

For flavoring, I used nutritional yeast, salt, oregano, a pinch of turmeric for color and a dash of chilli powder (hey, come on, I had to Indianize it at least a wee bit).

So here it is, my very first batch of Raw Vegan Hazelnut Cheese! :)

Raw Vegan Hazelnut Cheese

It's the first of many more to come. I wouldn't call it perfect but it was gosh darned scrumptious! Notice that I say 'was' (past tense)? It's because we gobbled up almost the whole batch during lunch. :D

Next time I'll be tweaking things. I plan to use a combination of nuts and seeds. I'll be blending them into a more creamy finish. And I'll be adding the spices before the fermentation process begins.

Earlier today I was reading up more about making home made raw, vegan cheeses in this amazing, highly informative post. I found the part where it speaks of cheese 'seasons' and moon cycles extremely interesting. I already try to do certain things based on the moon cycle in my day to day life and it makes complete sense to me that the behavior of the lactobacilli would be dependent upon them too.

After having read that post, I'm all riled up and really looking forward to more successful adventures in raw, vegan nut and cheese making. Can't wait to get the next batch started! :)


  1. Looks absolutely delish, Sush! I am looking forward to my next trip to Bangalore. Sadly it is not due till next May. I must visit you. And I will let you know in advance.;)

    I make the softer version which I use as a sandwich spread also. Wrote it for Dawn blog. I am not sure when they will put it up. I wish we could procure nutritional yeast flakes here. It makes such a difference!

  2. That looks delicious. I have only made cashew sweet topping. Haven't ventured into making the cheezes yet. I would be partial to the Heidi ho cheezes-my sisters name is Heidi ;)

  3. Thanks Harini. :) It would be great to meet up with you! Definitely let me know when you get here.

    The softer cheese that you make, does it have the same fermentation process except without the water being pressed out? Or is it more of a cream cheese type thing with lots of lemon juice and no fermentation? I love those too! *slurp*

  4. Thanks Gigi. Haha yeah I can understand why you'd be partial to anything named Heidi. I have a sister too. :)

    Hey you're the queen of cupcakes so I'm thinking pretty much any ingredient would look like a potential sweet topping to you. :D

  5. I make the one with lemon juice but not very sour. I don't like fermented/sour stuff. I add apple cider vinegar/lemon juice. The hint of sweetness from apple cider makes it nice. I prefer to call it a dip though. I find the consistency and taste closer to a dip than cheese. Will post the link on the group when the recipe is published. I want to try the miso version too, sometime soon when I can get a small bottle of organic miso.

  6. This recipe seems very manageable. Your timing for sharing this is perfect as I have decided to delete dairy from my diet for numerous reasons. Thanks for sharing. I hope I will be able to make this for my Hand Fasting ceremony!

  7. Thank you for dubbing me the queen of cupcakes. We must think of a title for you now.