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Vegan Ash-Ripened Camembert

Vegan Ash-Ripened Camembert

Aged vegan camembert coated with black ash and naturally covered with white mold. Savory, full of umami and so delicious with a slice of whole-wheat bread!


  • Yield: 3 Cheeses

Ingredients

  • 3 cups raw cashews
  • 2-3 tbsp filtered water (or bottled water)
  • 1 tbsp light sweet miso
  • 1/8 tsp mesophilic culture (or 6 capsules acidophilus)
  • 1/16 tsp penicillium candidum
  • 2 tbsp vegetable ash (activated charcoal)
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Instructions

Cashews

  1. Soak the cashews in filtered water for at least 5 hours or overnight.

Making the Cheese

  1. Drain the cashews and place them in a large bowl. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, transfer the boiling water to the cashew bowl and let sit 1-2 minutes. This step will help kill possible bacterias.
  2. Drain the cashews and place them in the bowl of the blender (or food processor) with the miso and 2 tbsp water.
  3. Blend on high speed, scraping down the sides from time to time, this step might take about 10 minutes depending on your blender. You want a very smooth, yet thick texture. If needed, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until smooth. Do not add too much water, you want to use as least as possible otherwise the cheese will be too soft.
  4. Open the probiotic capsules and add the powder to the bowl. You can use mesophilic culture starter instead if you prefer, both will work. Blend for a few seconds.
  5. Add the penicillium candidum and continue to blend for another 10-15 seconds. If your penicillium candidum is in liquid form, use about one drop.
  6. Transfer the mixture into a cheesecloth and pull it tight. Add a weight above it and let sit at room temperature for 10-12 hours. I placed the cheesecloth in a colander on top of a bowl. This step is important to start the fermentation of the cashew cream and drain possible excess water.
  7. After about 12 hours, the cashew cream should have a slightly sour taste, like fresh cream cheese. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover with plastic film to touch and place in the refrigerator for about 4 hours. It will make the cashew cream easier to work with.
  8. Cut strips of parchment paper and lay them in 3 small springform pans (I used two 3-inch cookie cutter rounds, stacked to make it taller). You want to cover the sides and bottom of the springform pans, you can also use plastic film if you prefer. The goal is to prevent the cheese from touching the metal. Fill half of the pans with the mixture and press it down using plastic film so it doesn’t stick to your hands. Make sure the surface is flat.
  9. Sprinkle a bit less than 1/4 tsp of ash on top of the cashew mixture and spread lightly with your finger. Don’t add too much ash, you want a very thin line, otherwise, the other half of the cashew cream won’t stick to the bottom one.
  10. Finally, top the ash with more cashew cream, filling the pans to the top. Press it down firmly using a plastic film or latex gloves. Cover the pans with plastic film to touch and place in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours.
  11. After that, prepare the ash mixture: in a small bowl, mix 2 tbsp vegetable ash with 2 tsp sea salt. Carefully remove the cheeses from their springform pans and salt both sides with about 1/4 tsp of the ash-salt mixture. Do the same for the sides. Shake each cheese a bit to remove excess ash.
  12. Line a clean baking sheet with parchment paper. Place each cheese on the baking sheet and cover with glass or plastic containers. This is essential to keep enough humidity and allow the mold to grow. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator. I recommend setting the temperature of your fridge around 48-52°F.

Aging

  1. Every day for the next 4-5 days, carefully flip the cheeses. The cheeses will still be very soft, like cream cheese. Don’t worry they will be easier to work with after a few days. If droplets form inside the containers, drain them with a paper kitchen towel. If the parchment paper becomes too wet, change it.
  2. On day 5, move the cheeses to a bamboo mat, or clean thick grid. Keep them covered during the whole process.
  3. Continue to flip the cheeses every day for the next 7-10 days. Always use clean hands or work with a plastic film to be sure you are not touching the cheese. The mold will start to appear on day 8-10 depending on the humidity and temperature of your fridge. After another week or so, the cheeses should be fully covered with white mold.
  4. Once they are completely white, wrap the cheeses in parchment paper or cheese paper and place them in the refrigerator for at least 5 days. The longer you let them age in the refrigerator, the stronger the taste.
  5. Enjoy with French bread, nuts, and/or drizzle with maple syrup!
  6. The cheese will keep for at least 1 month in the refrigerator.

Notes

If using acidophilus, make sure to check out how many million microorganisms it contains. I recommend this one, if yours contains more than 500M, reduce the amount used accordingly.

Once they are fully coated with white mold, it is essential to let them age wrapped for at least 5 more days, it allows the mold to penetrate the interior of the cheese and adds flavor.

If you have the possibility, I would recommend placing the cheeses in a room at 52-56°F (always keep them covered, or in a container). The mold will develop quicker than in a fridge.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 oz (29g)
  • Calories: 125
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Fat: 10g
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Fiber: 0.5g
  • Protein: 4.4g