Aged Almond Cheese

This week, teaching in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I tasted the best, cheesiest vegan cheese I have ever encountered. It was made by one of the students in my workshop, Nico Salguero. He generously explained his process to me in some detail.

 

Soak almonds in water for about 24 hours.

Remove skins.

Sprout the soaked almonds for about 2 days, rinsing periodically to keep them moist, but draining so they have access to air.

Grind almonds with fermented coconut milk yogurt or kefir, just enough to grind it into a thick paste. As an alternative he suggests rejuvelac of alfalfa.

Ferment for 24 hours at about 25°C/77°F.

Form into desired shape.

Dehydrate for about four days at a low temperature, about 20°C/68°F. The idea is to form a dry crust so it is easy to handle for the next steps, while the cheese retains moisture inside so fermentation can continue.

Submerge cheese in seawater or brine. Beginning on the fourth day of dehydration, and continuing for three days longer, submerge the cheese in brine three times each day. This is exactly how many aged dairy cheeses are salted. If you’re mixing a brine. mix it at about 5%, or 50 grams of salt for a liter of water.

After the salting, dehydrate about 5 more days at a low temperature, about 10°C/50°F. If you don’t have a dehydrator that can do this, the refrigerator will work.

Age cheese for 3-6 months at cool ambient temperatures.

According to Nico, it is possible to make this as a blue cheese by using a pin to insert blue cheese molds into the interior of the cheese after the initial dehydration.

Rather than addressing questions to me, please direct them to Nico: nicolasrsalguero[at]gmail.com. [Note: Spanish is his native language and his English is limited]

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