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-
- Soak the hazelnuts overnight (this sprouts the hazelnuts and makes for a creamier final product.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
Here are a few ideas for separating the “no-whey” from the protein of cultured non-dairy things…I’m sure there are a million more ways to do this. I usually go with cheap and easy so I’ll start off there!
- Most people have a strainer and a pot and a cloth napkin. This works super well and you can pick it up and move it really easily. I think a colander would work too, though it might take longer to drip out because the holes in the colander are usually further apart.
2. Big hair band and a big cloth and a pot. This method works really well too, when the strainer is being used. This method is probably the fastest, with the least amount of blockage between the cloth and the curd. You can also scrape the sides down more easily with this method than the above because the cloth is tauter and doesn’t move.
3. Purchase a greek yogurt maker. I don’t use this device, so I can’t speak directly to it’s effectiveness, though it does seem convenient. For me, it’s another thing to store in a small kitchen space, so I prefer to use what I’ve got on hand, but to each her own!
I’m calling this hazelnut yogurt, because of the way I’ve made it, however, it’s more like cultured hazelnut creme fraiche. It’s so rich and flavorful, you won’t want to use it like yogurt. It’s better suited to a dollop on a savory dish to add depth and richness to the meal.
What you need:
- 2 c hazelnuts
- fermentation station
- an extraction bag (panty hose or nutmilk bag)
- a drip station (wire screen sieve and cloth)
- one scoop Avellana vegan cultures
- Soak the hazelnuts overnight. Boil them in a pot with two tablespoons of baking soda. Once the skins start to slip, remove from heat, strain off water, and refill the pot with cold water. Rub the hazelnuts between your hands to remove the peels.
- Put peeled hazelnuts into blender with 6 cups water (you will likely need to divide this into two rounds. Filter out the hazelnut fiber with the panty hose or nut milk bag. Place milk in a large bowl or container.
- Add one level scoop of Avellana culture to the hazelnut milk and stir. Place bowl/container into fermentation station (or divide into smaller containers if the fermentation station isn’t big enough) and culture for eight hours at 100 degrees.
- The protein and fat of the hazelnut will separate from the water during culturing. This “no whey” will need to be separated off to thicken the cream to your desired consistency. Line a screen sieve with a tightly woven cloth and pour the cultured hazelnut cream in. Thickening will likely take several hours. You can stir the cream gently to speed the process. Cover it while you wait for it to drip out.
The final result is a rich, velvety cultured cream. You can push it toward the savory side or go sweet with it. Either way, a little of this cream goes a LONG way, so use it sparingly!!
What you need:
- 1 c soaked chickpeas
- 1/8-1/4 c cashews (more=creamier and fattier, less is beanier and lighter. If you want, you can omit these altogether and opt for a plain chickpea yogurt)
- 1.5 c water
- an extraction method (nutmilk bag, colander, panty hose)
- a pot
- Soak chickpeas and cashews over night.
- Add chickpeas, cashews, and water to blender and blend until smooth (you can also grind the cashews separately and add to the chickpea milk after you cook it, if you prefer. It adds a step, but may make the final result a little creamier. I’ve tried it both ways and it’s good either way…I guess it’s a matter of preference). Extract the excess fiber. It’s easier to squeeze the milk out using chickpeas because they are a little more fibrous and less squishy. I filter it back and forth a few times until I have little or no pulp left over.
(It looks a little weird now, outta the kitchen :/)
(oh no! I got a run in my stocking!)
3. Heat up the milk until it is steaming, but not quite boiling. It will start to get a little thicker, don’t worry, that’s just the proteins changing with the heat. Put a lid on it and let it cool down for several hours.
4. Put the milk in a jar and add one blue scoop of Avellana culture. Put it in your fermentation station and let it culture for eight hours at around 100 degrees. Don’t let this culture too long! It will take on a strange, otherworldly smell. (I’ve eaten it anyway when it smells like that and I didn’t die…but proceed at your own risk! 🙂
I was once a decidedly BAD cook. I tried. I made raviolis from scratch! They sucked and we had to go out to eat. Then I found a book called On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. It was all about the science behind food and what makes it good. I was pretty fascinated by this, though I will admit, the only thing I still remember (I checked it out from the library five years ago) is the five flavors rule. When you are cooking, you gotta understand the six flavors-sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter, and umami. Each of the flavors has its inverse operator. Here’s a nifty chart to help.
This idea saved my cooking. I didn’t suddenly become good at ravioli (I tried them again literally two days ago and we ended up ordering out) but I did begin to understand what makes food taste good, once I started tasting things and trying to understand what they needed to become balanced. This recipe is going to need a little of that adventurous spirit on your part!! Don’t worry, it’s hard to go wrong with these ingredients:
- some peanut milk cheese (umami and sour)
- sriratcha (spicy! and sour)
- maple syrup (sweet)
- garlic (bitter)
- salt (duh)
- veggies of choice (I used onion, corn, red pepper, and broccoli)
- noodles of choice (I used my favorite Lotus pad thai noodles)
- This is the peanut cheese. If you’re making this from scratch, just don’t drip the peanut protein out as much. Drip it out until it is a nice saucy texture. If you’ve already made the cheese, mix in sriratcha to taste, four tablespoons of non-dairy yogurt (or 2 T non-dairy milk if you don’t have any yogurt), two-three tablespoons of maple syrup, and salt (start slow, like 1/4 teaspoon, and move up from there SLOWLY. Understand that things will get saltier as the salt dissolves, so wait before you add more salt. Salt is my nemesis.) Taste it a million times and start to try to understand what it wants to be good and balanced! It’s fun, once you get the hang of it.
This is the peanut cheese. ^
- Ingredients whisked in. ^
2. Don’t forget the maple syrup! Its super important to balance out the double sours from peanut cheese culture and the sriratcha vinegar.
3. Steam or stir fry your veggies.
4. Cook up your noodles. I love these.
5. I usually cook up a little tofu too.