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A cheezey love affair

Updated: Oct 8, 2021

Is nut cheeze really "cheese"? Probably not. And nowadays I'm quite happy to be eating nicely-aged and slow-fermented nut and seed pastes - decadently infused with truffles, red-wine reductions and other umami flavour hits - rather than traditional dairy cheese derived from a cow.

When I first looked at adopting a plant-based diet, I thought that not being able to eat traditional dairy cheese would be my main vice and downfall. Whilst habit did have me missing a creamy oozey brie or slightly smelly camembert initially, my tastebuds have adjusted and I don't miss them on my palate at all. That said, I do miss the ritual of having some sticky, golden, gooey goodness on top of a pizza or oozing out of a burger. So whilst I no longer eat cheese derived from dairy, I wouldn't say that my previous love affair with cheese has quite ended.

However, knowing the practices involved in bringing industrially produced dairy products to our table, I am happy to feast on the range of plant-based cheeses and butters currently available on the market. Apart from the unkind practices imposed on both mother and calf used to obtain the dairy milk used in most conventional cheese making, dairy (and meat) from cattle is also a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions and unsustainable agricultural water consumption and land usage.

I've been dabbling with making my own cheeses, and recently completed the "Fromagerie" module of my @FoodFutureInstitute course using cashew and macadmia nuts to make cultured cream cheese, chevre, creamy mozzarella and aged cheddar.

A labour of love, undergoing a first and then second fermentation in my cheese cave (aka wine fridge ;)).

The first formal practical examination for my course with the Food Future Institute was to "Build Your Fromagerie Board", using a minimum of 3 different cheeses, at least 1 cracker and 1 condiment from the course. After several weeks of fermentation and ageing in the cheese cave, I finally got to present and sample the final results :)

Hmmm… I think I may have gotten a little carried away! ;)

When I have a little less time on my hands, I also favour blanched silvered almonds for my quick go-to Smoked Almond Ricotta and hempseeds for an easy Saltbush Parmesan sprinkle.

Follow @mazzmade on Instagram for more plant-based cheese adventures and see the Recipes tab for some joy-fully easy cheezey recipes.

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