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More experiments from Artisan Vegan Cheese

Cashew nuts are like a vegan's Swiss army knife: like a Swiss army knife, cashew nuts are useful in all situations, and you're always grateful you if find one unexpectedly in your pocket. Or they come in a bright red plastic casing and are handy for opening tins. One of those, anyway.

For some reason, cashews are stupidly cheap at my supermarket at the moment. I decided to buy a metric truckload safe in the knowledge I would either turn them into new and interesting dishes, or just eat the lot in front of the TV with a daft smile on my face. Either way, we're good.

I decided to opt for the former, after reminding myself I'd done not enough cooking from Artisan Vegan Cheese, after some early experiments.

I duly set about making rejuvelac, that weird fermented jazz that turns the cashews into cheese. In the hot weather that London's been having of late, it didn't take long to do its stuff.

This is only the second time I've managed to make something that looked like rejuvelac: I find it really hard to judge when to stop the liquid fermenting and keep it the right side of the line between sharp and tangy, or weird and a bit too funky.

I'm not sure how well I judged it this time: the cheeses I made with the new batch of rejuvelac were a bit, well, cheesy.

The first one I made was chiefly because I remember a photo on Cadry's Kitchen of Artisan Vegan Cheese open on the Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Cheese annotated 'Holy crap! So good!' I got some basil and sun-dried tomatoes, did the needful, and lo, a mound of creamy cheese was born.


There was just one thing that I couldn't get away from: the cheesiness of it. Maybe it was rejuvelac that was left too long, maybe I was heavy handed on the nooch, or maybe I've just gone off cheesy tastes, but either way, a little less cheesy would have been good – allowing the tomatoes and basil to show off a bit more.


The second cheese I made from the bounteous bag of cashew was the 'piquant brown cheese'. As names go, that one doesn't sing, right? Still, Artisan Vegan Cheese had me at "goes well with beer".

But oh, the sacrifices I had to make to get there. In two words: fermented tofu.

I love the 'fu. Of course I do. And fermentation? I eat sauerkraut with the best of them. But put them 
together and it's on a hiding to nothing. Seriously, this is not the 'fu you need to convince your omni-friends vegan food really is gooooood.

Fermented tofu is punchy in the same manner a heavyweight boxer with lead weights in his gloves going ten rounds with your head is punchy. Not in a good way, my friends, not in a good way.

What does it taste like? Evil. Just salty, squidgy, stinky evil. It's the worst thing I can think of putting in my mouth without a gun to my head. 

Still, ignoring the unforgivable wickedness that is fermented tofu, the rest of the ingredients are all fun stuff: cashews, umeboshi paste and bits and pieces. Once the cashew cheese is made, you have to let it do its stuff untampered-with for 12 days, flipping it over and playing the b-side every so often to let the air get to it.


There's a lot of flavour in the finished result. And, handily, there's not much of the fermented tofu tang that remains in the tangy finished product.It's highly salty, sharp and toothsome - in short, a really interesting addition to the vegan cheese stable. It's not the sort of cheese you want every day, but it's definitely the sort of cheese that holds its own against chutneys and other strong flavours.

Here's some beetroot chutney it hooked up with the other day - the two were fighting for attention on the taste buds in a good way.


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15 comments

  1. I would really like to get one of the vegan cheese books out there. They sound like such fun with which to experiment. Have you ever had tempeh? It's fermented tofu but tastes much better than the version you made. Love the basil cheese you made!

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    1. Tempeh is actually made from whole soybeans, not soy milk, so it's not fermented tofu. I agree it tastes good! :)

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  2. Your cheese experiments seem to have gone very well. I haven't made any artisan cheese in ages — since my first experiments. I loved the taste so I've got to restock my dwindling cashew supply and try again — while my basil plant is still alive!

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  3. I don't know if I'm brave enough to make my own, but I'll certainly come over to your place for a wine and cheeze party anytime. ;)

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  4. I started making artisan vegan using wheat berries last month in Oregon, it was a long process, but an exciting project. I love raw cashew nuts, they are so yummy, especially in raw nut milks or for making mac-n-cheeze. These cheese you've made look so delicious, and haha on the fermented tofu...actually, there is such thing as STINKY TOFU, which is super popular in Taiwan, usually sold at markets or roadside stands. It's really stinky. I've seen some foreigners eating them, and they would cry.

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  5. I'm not sure I would go so well with making artisan cheeses - I reckon it's too hot here! I followed the instructions once for making a fermented injera, and it fermented much more quickly than it should have and the result was so sour it made our stomachs hurt!

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  6. I love your comparison of Swiss Army Knives to cashews. So true! Cashews are so versatile! I don't know what I was thinking all of those years that I just ate them roasted and salted, straight out of the bag! ;-)

    I laughed out loud when I read about my cookbook annotation. That's hilarious that you remembered that. That's too bad that the flavor was overly cheesy for you, but it was fun to see your experiments nevertheless! It's been so long since I've made anything from that cookbook. I need to revisit it while the basil is still in season.

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  7. Agreed, I always have cashews around! Also I have yet to make anything from that book - I think it's fermenting fear (though I do kraut just fine). And fermented tofu sounds horrifying!

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  8. I'm sitting here drooling as I read your post... Must wipe off keyboard. I haven't made a thing from this book and always have plans to make something but then it never happens. You are inspiring me to crack open that book .... and at least look.

    Holy Moly that beetroot chutney sounds good too. I've made a nectarine chutney recently and loved it. Never had beetroot chutney.

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  9. I'm really interested in making the sundried tomato and basil cheese now - extra cheesy flavour sounds great to me. I remember Cadry's post about the cheese too! I don't think I've ever heard of fermented tofu before - not sure I'm keen on seeking it out given your description of it.

    My most recent attempt with rejuvelac ended badly and I don't know if it was due to the weather being too cold but it turned into a slimy gunk that went into the trash. The first batch of it I made last summer worked without any problems! I'm going to wait until our weather warms up a little to get back into artisan vegan cheese making...

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  10. Joey, nice job with the cheeses! If you want less cheesy, something that worked for me was the Boursin recipe. I made it (and varied it somewhat) and it was wonderful and definitely not too "cheesy." Here's a link to it: http://veganfazool.blogspot.com/2013/03/vegan-fazools-school-first-class.html

    P.S. What blogger template are you using now? I'm having a website designed that looks like this :-)

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  11. I would definitely play around with this book more if I had a ready supply of cheap cashews. So jealous at your bounty! Every think of re-selling them to the cashew-hungry vegan masses? ;) I may just have to splurge anyway because I love the sound of sun-dried tomato and basil cheese.

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  12. Whoooaaa. Beetroot chutney and beery cheese! Yes please thank you.
    Funny that you're looking for less cheesy cheese but I can understand wanting the incredible flavors of sundried tomatoes and basil to shine through. Where did you find fermented tofu?
    Also, I love the word rejuvelac.

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  13. oh wow. that is a good lot of experimentation. i love the banter about the experiments too! i need to try some rejuvelac-ing after i am done with mofo

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  14. It seems like I only ever seem to pull out Artisan Vegan Cheese whenever I see someone post about it on their blog, I haven't made anything since Cadry last posted about it. Guess it's time to pull it out again! Plus I'm out of the cashew cheese and I love that shit.

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