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Easy Vegan Nut-free Cheese

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Quick Vegan Cheese

The world of vegan cheese has greatly evolved over the past 10 years. Thank God for those of us who quit dairy and still love consuming cheese, cream and yogurt! We went from a few brands making rubbery, kind of bland, not melting very well to great creamy spreads, perfect shreds, nice slices of Swiss, cheddar, and now even blu cheese or brie!  Not only do some of them come in a variety of flavors (French herbs, jalapeno, smoked etc.) but they are also made with different bases, like nuts (cashews almonds), and seeds. This is great because it allows people with nut allergies to still have great options to choose from.

Making Vegan Nut-free Cheez

Most vegan cheese use cashew or almond milk as a base. I make an amazing brie with cashew milk but it takes about 3 weeks to be perfect. That’s a long fermentation time. The good news is that you don’t need weeks to make a nice sliceable or shreddable vegan cheese. If you think that cashew nuts are a little expensive, you’ll love this recipe because it uses raw sunflower seeds! These are inexpensive and so good for you. High in protein and loaded with vitamin D, these little seeds can do a lot more that be sprinkled on salads, oatmeal, trail mix or baked goods. They also make a great base for cheese.

Special ingredients

To get a nice firm texture that can be sliced or shredded, you need to add a natural gelling agent called agar agar. Made from seaweed, agar agar is the vegan version of gelatin, a substance made from animal collagen which is extracted from skin, bones and tendons. Agar agar comes in the form of powder or flakes. I recently discovered that it is a natural appetite suppressant and is full of fiber and micro nutrients. You can find it usually in the baking aisle of grocery stores. If you don’t find it there, all health food stores and Asian stores carry it. And if you don’t feel like running around, buy it online!  You can use it for flans, plant-based Jello and so much more.

Miso paste
To create a deep and aged flavor to your plant-based cheese, you will need some white or yellow miso paste. Miso is a fermented paste usually made from a mix of soy beans and barley that has been fermented over time. It is rich in probiotics, good stomach bacteria, it helps fight infections, is rich in essential amino acids, helps detoxifying the body and protects it from radiations. It is something that we should all regularly include in our diet.
NOTE: Never boil miso in soup or stews because you will be destroying the live bacteria. This recipe combines the hot water with agar agar at the very end so that the temperature is lower and the bacteria is preserved.

Shaping the cheese

Vegan Cheese

After you blend all the ingredients (minus the water and agar agar), it is time to heat up the soaking water and whisk the agar agar. Bring to a quick boil, continue to stir and simmer for a minute or until it starts to thicken and become opaque. Remove from the heat and continue to stir for a few seconds to cool it down a little before pouring it in the blender. Quickly pulse a few times to blend one last time all the ingredients.
Line a small shallow glass container with plastic film making sure you have extra hanging over the edge so that you can cover the cheese before refrigerating it for a few hours or overnight. When you are ready, open the plastic and flip the container on a plate and it will come out perfectly.

Variations

What I love about this recipe is that you don’t need to soak the seeds or nuts overnight. That saves precious time. You only need a blender and a few hours in the fridge to firm it up. This recipe gives you a perfect base that you can add more flavors to.
Some of my favorite go-to are:
1. Garlic & chives (finely minced)
2. Sun-dried tomatoes and basil
3. Rosemary & Thymes
4. Smoked paprika
5. Truffle oil

You are going to be blown away how easy it is to make your own block of vegan cheese and how fun it is to come up with new flavors.

 

Quick Vegan Cheese

Quick Vegan Nut-Free Cheese

Making sliceable vegan cheese from scratch is quick, easy, and inexpensive. It can be shredded, and melted too.
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 11 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 11 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine European

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp miso paste
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch (Optional)
  • 1 tbsp agar agar powder
  • 1 cup water

Instructions
 

Blanch the sunflower seeds

  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add the sunflower seeds. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Save 1 cup of the water and drain the rest.
  • Place the blanched seeds in a blender.
    blanched sunflower seeds

Prepare the cheese base

  • Mix the juice of a lemon with 3 tbsp of tahini and the miso paste. Stir.
  • In the blender add the tahini mixture, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, garlic clove, pinch of salt.
  • Blend on high until you have a smooth texture.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Line a shallow plastic bowl with enough plastic film to cover the cheese.
    Vegan Cheese
  • Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, add the tablespoon of agar agar and stir for about a minute until the liquid becomes opaque and starts to thicken.
    vegan nut-free cheese
  • Remove from the stove and continue to stir to cool the liquid down a little and pour into the blender.
  • Blend one last time and pour into the line shallow bowl. Smooth out the top and let it cool down before covering with the plastic and refrigerating for an hour or two.
Keyword dairy-free cheese, vegan cheese

 

 

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