What is cashew cheese?
Cashew cheese is a plant-based alternative to traditional dairy cheese. It’s made from cashew nuts instead of milk from goats, sheep, cows or buffalo. The cashews are blended and flavour components are added, along with nutritional yeast or active live cultures to give it a cheesy taste and texture.
What kinds of cheeses can be replicated with cashews?
Nut-based cheeses can be as diverse and flavourful as dairy cheeses. Soft, hard, tangy, ashy—whatever flavours and textures you’ve experienced with dairy cheese can be re-created in a plant-based cheese. Nuts are a combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, and the ratios of those three components is what gives different nut-based cheeses their varying flavours and textures.
Cashews are great for cheese making because they’re mild, dense, and creamy. They’re also good for you, and contain a healthy dose of good fats, copper, magnesium, iron, and zinc. At Spread’Em, we make fermented cream cheese-style spreads from cashews, which are cultured using the same fermentation process as traditional cream cheese.
How do you make cashew cheese?
Non-fermented cashew cheese can be made quickly from blended cashews, nutritional yeast (which provides the cheesy taste), and some flavour components like lemon, garlic, and spices. Cultured cashew cheese is more artisanal and takes time to create. Active live bacteria are used to ferment the cashew cheese, adding taste and texture all their own, just like in dairy cheese. Once the cheese base is inoculated with the vegan bacteria culture, it is aged for a period of time. The process is fairly simple, but not all vegan cheeses crafted this way are created equal. The nuances come from the flavour components and the process of fermentation. Fermented foods offer a ton of health benefits, too. For instance, cultured cashew cheese is full of healthy probiotics (much more than you get from a standard supplement), which aid in digestion and improve overall gut health.
How do you make quick cashew cheese at home?
Here is an easy recipe for homemade cashew cheese inspired by Minimalist Baker. This recipe uses nutritional yeast instead of active live cultures, which means it won’t be fermented like traditional cheese, but it will taste cheesy and can be made in a matter of minutes.
- Soak 2 cups of cashew nuts in cool water for 12 hours
- Drain and rinse cashews
- Toss those in a blender with a couple of cloves of garlic, the juice from a couple of lemons, some lemon zest, a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast, a bit of olive oil, a little splash of water, and a dash salt
- Blend, scraping down the sides as needed
- Place the mixture on a cheesecloth and form it into a disc, securing it with a rubber band
- Place in the fridge for 6-12 hours, and when the cheese is formed, remove the cloth and serve
It’s that easy! Do you have a favourite cashew cheese recipe you’d like to share? Which of our fermented cream cheese-style spreads is your go-to? Comment below or find us on Instagram.