The recipe video for this cashew cheese is the most popular video on my instagram. I think the reason is that it’s pretty easy to make, and that it doesn’t require many or weird ingredients. You’re probably asking yourself, “Yes but why on earth would I want to make plant-based cheese at home when I can buy it at the supermarket?” Well, let me give you two good reasons.
- Most of the store-bought vegan cheeses contain modified potato or corn starch. “Modified” means that the starch has been changed or altered in some way to make it more useful in food production (more useful meaning longer shelf life) . They either roast the starch, treat it with an acid, use an electrical charge on the starch or treat it with sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. It won’t kill you if you eat it occasionally but it might cause digestive problems. I get bloated or headaches when I eat food with modified starch or carrageenan*.
- They’re expensive. Here in Los Angeles I pay $7 – $14 for a tiny container of purely natural nut-based cheese.
*Carrageenan (Irish Moss) is an edible seaweed that is used to thicken, emulsify, and preserve foods and drinks (most nut milks in the U.S. contain it). It’s a natural ingredient (I don’t know how natural it is after it has been processed) but there is evidence that it can trigger health problems in the digestive system.
Simple Cashew Ricotta
- Cheesecloth, muslin or white cotton cloth, laundry or bag clips, chopstick, large coffee press or tall jar (to hang the cheese to drip in).
- ½ cup raw cashews - soaked in water for minimum 3 hours (better overnight)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup filtered water
- 1 –2 tablespoons lemon juice or 1 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Drain the cashews and put them in a blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Process until creamy and smooth. Taste and correct seasoning.
- If using a cheesecloth, use 2 or 3 layers of it. Layer the coffee press or jar with the cheesecloth or muslin and secure with clips.
- Pour the mixture onto a layer of cheesecloth. Remove the clips and bring the edges of the cheesecloth together, tie it around a chopstick or wooden spoon, place it across the coffee press and keep it tact with a clip so that the cheese hangs and does not touch the bottom of the coffee press. (see illustration). Let it drip in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, remove the cheese from the cheesecloth. Serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil or put in a container and eat as a spread. You can also serve it like burrata, on the center of a plate with sliced heirloom tomatoes around it. With a drizzle of olive oil and za'atar or oregano or fresh basil leaves.