Avellana hazelnut cheese

Avellana Signature hazelnut cheese is, quite simply, the best vegan cheese I have ever had, and I’ve had a LOT of vegan cheeses. It’s not just because I’m partial to my own work, it’s just that good! I sampled this cheese to hundreds of folks over the years and the most often heard comment-“It doesn’t taste vegan.” Now I know, the definition what vegan things taste like is changing rapidly, but the point is, this cheese is rich and creamy and has flavor for days. Give it a try! You won’t be sorry.

Avellana Signature Cheese-

  1. Soak the hazelnuts overnight (this sprouts the hazelnuts and makes for a creamier final product.)
  2. Peel the hazelnuts by placing them in 6 cups of water and two tablespoons of baking soda, and bring them to a boil. If you cook them too high, they will boil over and make a big mess, so be careful.                                                                                                          img_5346
  3. When they start to slip out of their skins, take them off the heat and run them under cold water. Rub them between your hands to get as many skins off as possible. The reddish water might dye your hands (you can use this as a natural dye, if you are a dyer! It ends up a beautiful reddish brown). I usually float them in cool water and skim the peeled ones off the top. They don’t have to be perfect. If you leave too many skins on it will make your cheese pink and slightly bitter.                                                                                                                  img_5351                            img_5354 
  4. Blend the nuts and 8 cups water for 1-3 minutes until smooth. Squeeze the liquid through a nut milk bag to separate the fiber. I do this in two rounds, because my blender is smaller.
  5. Add the apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to keep it from burning to the bottom of the pot. You will see the curd start to separate as soon as you put the vinegar in and the curd will become more pronounced as you heat it.

 

 

6. Use the drip out method to separate the curd. This process may take a while, an hour up to a day (or longer depending on how much material you’re working with and how the curd forms) to reach the right consistency. If you stir it gently in the strainer it will speed the process up. The curd will need to be approximately the consistency of room temperature cream cheese, dry enough to where you can form it into a shape and it will stay like that.

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7. Once the curd is dry enough, add in the salt and culture. Stir well. If it’s not drying quickly enough, you can change to a clean, dry cloth. This will speed the process a little bit.

8. Form the cheese into whatever shape you want it to be. Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt on the surface, then cover with a thin layer of your choice of spice and set in your fermentation station, set at around 100-110 degrees. Let it culture for 24 hours and then flip it over. Let the cheese culture for 24 hours longer to complete. The longer you culture it, the tangier the final result will be. Wrapped cheese will stay good for a ridiculously long time, as long as 6 months or longer.

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This cheese is divine. It’s the most wonderful food that ever graced my plate. Still, after years of producing small batches week after week, peeling thousands of pounds of hazelnuts, drying hundreds of pounds of hazelnut flour to toasty perfection…THIS is still my favorite food.