If you're expecting homemade almond cheese to taste like cheese made from cow, sheep or goat's milk, you'll be disappointed. But if you want a vegan, lactose free, dairy free substitution that's similar to cheese, then this slightly sweet, tangy and creamy almond cheese is for you.
Once you try this basic recipe for almond cheese, you can begin experimenting and perfect your own version of almond cheese, which is a fun project. Below I've included links to other almond cheese recipes I've found - try them all to find the one you like best. The recipe that seems to have inspired most of the almond cheese recipes out there is Almond Feta Cheese with Herb Oil published by Vegetarian Times.
Making this recipe for almond cheese is quite simple, but requires planning ahead: If you choose to soak the almonds, then start the night before you want to make the cheese. The cheese also needs to be refrigerated for 12 hours before baking it.
- 1 cup whole raw unsalted almonds, skin removed (see notes about blanching and/or soaking almonds below)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup water
The First Step: Blanching and/or Soaking Almonds
Blanched almonds are almonds with the skin removed. You can buy blanched almonds or do it yourself. First, pour boiling water over the almonds and let the almonds soak for a few minutes. Drain and rinse the almonds then rub the almonds with a towel or just use your fingers to peel and pop the skin off.
Removing the skin before making almond cheese gives the cheese a smoother texture and lighter color that looks like cheese.
However, you can make the cheese with the skin on if you prefer.
Next, most recipes for homemade almond cheese call for soaking the blanched almonds in cold water for 24 hours before making the cheese. I have made this cheese with almonds that I soaked and with almonds that were un-soaked and noticed very little difference in the final product. The cheese made with soaked almonds was perhaps slightly creamier. So why bother soaking the almonds?
It is thought that soaking almonds ( and soaking other nuts and seeds) makes them easier to digest and makes it easier to absorb their nutrients. If you choose to soak the almonds before making this recipe, begin the night before. Place the almonds in a glass bowl or jar and cover completely with water. Cover the bowl or jar and refrigerate for 24 hours. Drain and rinse the almonds well.
Making the Lactose Free Almond Cheese
Put the almonds in a food processor or high-powered blender with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and water. Blend until very smooth. This will take awhile, about 5 minutes.
Scrape the mixture into double-layered cheesecloth lining a colander. Gather the cheesecloth tightly around the almond mixture and secure into a bundle by using a rubber band or string to tie the top. Give the bundle a few gentle squeezes to remove liquid.
Leave the bundle in the colander and place in the refrigerator overnight over a bowl or rimmed plate to catch any liquid that might drain.
Refrigerate for at least 12 hours. This helps the texture of the cheese become firmer.
Discard any liquid that drains out. Carefully peel the cheesecloth off of the almond “cheese”. The “cheese” will have a consistency similar to cookie dough.
At this point, the almond cheese can be eaten as a spread or it can be gently shaped into a round about 3/4-inch thick and baked at 300 F for 30-40 minutes. After baking, the top will be dry and slightly firm. The inside will still be creamy.
Flavoring the Cheese
The cheese can be flavored by adding seasonings such as fresh garlic, fresh herbs and spices. Some recipes flavor the cheese with nutritional yeast. You can add these ingredients at the beginning when you are blending ingredients in the food processor or blender. You can also drizzle olive oil and fresh herbs over the almond cheese after it bakes.