Vegan aged cheddar cheese. Yes, you read that right! Vegans can have delicious aged cheddar cheese too! This slice-able, dry, and sharp cheddar cheese is perfect on crackers, with fresh fruit and raw nuts, or on a cold sandwich. Trust me, this aged cheddar cheese is amazing and will satisfy all your cheese cravings!
I love cheese. I eat cheese with crackers, avocado, noodles, nuts and seeds, cucumber slices (yes, you read that right, cucumber! I know it sounds weird, but try it before you make a decision against it. The crisp, watery taste of cucumber perfectly compliments the salty cheese flavor.), etc. I even pour straight nutritional yeast onto my rice because I love the cheesy flavor so much!
Cheese was the one and only food that held me back from deciding to become a vegan. I was perfectly fine without eggs, milk, or meat products, but I did not see how I could live the rest of my life with out the sharp, earthy, and umami tastes of cheese. In fact, this dilemma kept me from making the leap from vegetarian to vegan for over a year! However, when I discovered that cheeses could be made from nuts, seeds, vegetables, and tofu, I gave up dairy cheese and was determined to makes vegan cheeses that could substitute dairy cheeses. Now, less than a year later, I have even had people eat my homemade, vegan cheeses without realizing that the cheeses were vegan! So, if dairy cheese is the reason you have not become vegan yet, I promise that vegan cheeses can fill any cheese craving!
At first glance, the recipe for this cheddar cheese may look overwhelming because of the length of time between steps. However, if you break it up into days and steps, it is not complicated at all! The first day (or overnight) you soak the cashews, and the following day you blend the cashews, yogurt, probiotic powder, water, miso, salt, and nutritional yeast in a blender. The mixture sits for two days and then you cook it on the stove with the tapioca and agar powder. Once poured into the mold and cooled to room temperature, the you chill the cheese for four hours. Once it is chilled, you salt the cheese and leave it to dry for eight days, flipping after four days. So, yes, there is a great deal of time between some of the steps, but the actual hands on time it takes to make the cheese is very minimal!
One thing to remember when you are ready to cook and mold the cheese, is to either use a silicone mold like these or to line a glass or metal pan with plastic wrap or cheesecloth. I have used everything from casserole dishes to Pyrex bowls as molds, so just look in the cupboard and decide the shape you would like for the cheese! The first time I made this cheese, I did not line my glass casserole dish with plastic wrap or cheesecloth… and I ended up having to save the cheese as a spread because I messed up the molding so badly when I was trying to remove the cheese. Although a regular lined mold will work well, if you are going to make a lot of cheese, I highly recommend getting a silicone mold for your cheese block!
Additionally, please know that when the cheddar cheese is air drying, it is normal for the cheddar cheese to darken in color (this occurs as the cheese oxidizes and forms a rind) and develop numerous lines and cracks throughout the cheese. Simply leave the cheese alone while it is drying, and then, when you are putting the cheese away into the refrigerator, cut the cheese into quarters and gently push the pieces together. The cheese will hold together even better once it has been chilled.
Note: during the air-drying process, particularly when the cheddar cheese is flipped at the four-day mark, you may notice a few orange or white spots on the new top, original underside of the cheese. Simply scrape these off gently with a knife and continue to let the cheese air dry. The spots appeared because the air flow to that specific area was not optimal, but do not worry– the spots are merely superficial and will not cause any damage to the cheese if removed!
If you try this recipe, let me know! I would love to see your comments and ratings on this recipe. In addition, you can tag photos of your dishes for me to see on Instagram using #shalomhomestead.
Best wishes and shalom, friends!
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked 4-8 hours or overnight, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup plain, unsweetened almond yogurt
- ¾ cup water
- 1.5 tsp probiotic powder
- ⅔ cup nutritional yeast flakes
- ⅓ cup brown miso
- 1.5 tsp salt (plus more when drying cheese)
- 5 Tbsp tapioca flour
- 3 Tbsp agar agar powder
- Prepare the cashews.*
- At least four hours after soaking the cashews, put the cashews, water, probiotic powder, nutritional yeast, miso, and salt into a blender. Process until smooth and creamy, stopping as needed to completely blend the mixture. The final liquid should be a rich, golden-yellow cream.
- Pour the mixture into a clean glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit on the counter 48 hours to culture and deepen the cheddar flavor.
- Two days later, pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and add the tapioca flour and agar powder to the pot.
- Whisk the mixture together until it is smooth and creamy and does not have any lumps.
- Set out your mold so that you will be able to spread the cheese into it quickly after it is done cooking. I use a 8"x8" square silicone mold** because the cheese pops right out when it has been chilled.
- Slowly heat over medium-low heat, stirring and scraping the sides constantly with a spatula.
- As the cheese heats it will go through several stages: it will become smooth and stretchy, then small lumps will appear as the agar and tapioca begin to combine and thicken the cheese, then the mixture will smooth back out but will be thicker than the beginning. All of these stages together only takes 8-10 minutes, but differing stove tops and temperatures may cause the time to be shorter or longer during each section-- be prepared for an arm workout stirring! I know that the cheese is done, when after the lumps have smoothed back out, the cheese begins to stick a little to the bottom of the saucepan even though I am constantly stirring. If you are not sure that you have cooked it long enough, do not be afraid to cook it longer! You won't hurt the cheese by cooking it longer, and the cooking time only changes the texture of the cheese, not the edibility!
- Once the cheese is done cooking, quickly spread the thick mixture into your mold and smooth the top.
- Let cool to room temperature, then cover and place in the fridge for 4 hours until firm.***
- Once firm, lightly salt the top of the cheese and then carefully pop the cheese out onto a wire cooling rack. You may have to run a butter knife along the edge of the cheese.
- Lightly sprinkle salt the remaining edges with salt.
- Make sure that the cheese has plenty of air flow around all the edges, and then let it sit out to air dry for four days.
- After four days, carefully flip the cheese to its other side. I do this by placing another cooling rack on top of the cheese and then quickly flipping it to the other side and pulling the original rack off.
- After another four days, cut the cheese into the desired portion sizes (I usually quarter mine), wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
- The cheese will keep up to a month in the refrigerator.
**When you are ready to cook and mold the cheese, either use a silicone mold or line a glass or metal pan with plastic wrap or cheesecloth. I have used everything from casserole dishes to Pyrex bowls as molds, so just look in the cupboard and decide the shape you would like for the cheese. If you are going to make a lot of cheese, I highly recommend getting a silicone mold for your cheese block!
***If you do not want to air-dry the cheese, you can stop at this point and keep the cheese in the fridge to use like a regular cheddar block. However, the cheese has a sharper flavor and slices better when it has been air-dried.
Additionally, please know that when the cheddar cheese is air drying, it is normal for the cheese to darken in color (this occurs as the cheese forms a rind) and develop numerous lines and cracks throughout the cheese.
Also, during the air-drying process, particularly when the cheese is flipped at the four-day mark, you may notice a few orange or white spots on the new top, original underside of the cheese. Simply scrape these off gently with a knife and continue to let the cheese air dry. The spots are merely superficial and will not cause any damage to the cheese if removed.
The serving size and nutritional information are general estimates based upon the ingredient amounts.