Cultured Almond Cheese with a Rind (raw, vegan, gluten-free)
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There are an abundance of nutritional therapies that can help you get to new levels of health. Culturing (fermenting) foods is just one of the many ways that I’ve found to have phenomenal benefits within my own journey.
When culturing foods, a symbiotic relationship between bacteria and yeasts are established. But I personally believe that the symbiotic relationship can go one step further and that is one created between you and the food. You can develop a culture that is truly unique to you, your environment, and even personality. How do I, personally achieve this? I sing to it… I talk to it… I pray over it… I share my health needs with it. That may sound really silly but is it? :)
The transformative ingredient used to create this beautiful symbiotic relationship that I am referring to, is the use of probiotics. We tend think of bacteria as something creepy and causes diseases. But did you know that your body is full of bacteria… both good and bad? Probiotics bring in the “good” and “helpful” bacteria as they work keep your gut healthy. And I am all about the gut!
Most cheese recipes that use probiotics require anywhere from 1/4 to 1 teaspoon. Just open the capsules and tap the powder out into a measuring spoon. Please click on the link that I listed within the ingredient lists to see the one that I used. If you don’t have any probiotics, you can substitute it out with 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. You won’t get the same health benefits but the acidity will create a semi-cheese-like-zing to it. This particular recipe serves as a wonderful cheese base. You can enjoy it as is or you can add your favorite flavors, such as herbs and spices. You can also for-go the rind process and enjoy this cheese with a softer texture.
Yields: 2 cups (6-8 servings)
- After soaking the almonds, drain, rinse and remove the skins from the almonds.
- As a fun taste test, put a few almonds to the side that still have their skins on. After removing the skins from the rest of the almonds, taste one with and one without the skin.
- Blend the almonds, water and probiotic powder in a high powdered blender, until the almonds become as smooth as possible.
- Depending on your blender, this may take 1-4 minutes.
- If you own a Vitamix blender and it came with a tamper, use it. Otherwise pause and scrape down the sides of the blender occasionally.
- If it is too thick and is not blending, add 1 Tablespoon of water at a time until the mixture blends properly. Use the least amount of water possible though.
- Don’t let the cheese mix get to hot during the blending process, this can kill the probiotics.
- Place a strainer inside of a bowl so that it can catch the “whey” that releases during the fermentation process.
- Line the inside of a strainer with cheesecloth (use two layers if the cheesecloth has a large weave), allow several inches of the cloth to drape down around the sides of the bowl.
- Place the cheese mixture on the center of the cloth.
- Wrap up the sides of the cloth to cover the cheese and place a weight on top just heavy enough to slowly and gently push out the extra liquid.
- Place the cheese in a warm location to ferment for 8-72 hours. If temperatures are too cold it inhibits incubation.
- Keep in mind there is no hard and fast rule about how long it needs to culture. Your taste buds will have to guide you in determining the right length of time.
- The warmer the house, the faster it will ferment.
- Start taste testing around the 6 hour mark. I did mine for 24 hours with a house temp of 70 degrees.
- Keep in mind that the cheese will continue to ferment once placed in the fridge but it slows down to a crawl.
- Remove the cheese from the cheese cloth and place in a covered container and store in the refrigerator. Or place in a small mold (such as a Springform pan) and place in the fridge to chill and set up.
- If you wish to flavor the cheese with spices or herbs, do this after it has fermented and before placing in the fridge.
Create a rind (optional):
- To create a rind on the outer surface of the cheese, shape cheese with a ring mold and dehydrate for 10-24 hours at 115 degrees (F). If you don’t have a ring, you can line a bowl with plastic wrap, pack the cheese in, let it chill to firm up, then pop it out and move on to dehydrating it.
- The dry time will vary depending on how much moisture is left in the fermented cheese.
- Part way through the dry time, once it is holding its shape, remove the ring and continue to dry. This allow more of the surface to be exposed to the air.
- Store in the cheese in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.