- 10 fresh large tomatoes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp thyme
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 200°F (94°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Rinse the tomatoes under cold water, pat them dry. Cut the tomatoes in quarters and remove the core. Scoop out the seeds and pulp.
- Transfer to a mixing bowl, add the olive oil, thyme, oregano, and salt. Stir to coat.
- Arrange the tomatoes on the baking sheet, cut-side up. Make sure to leave space between each one, you don’t want them to touch each other. Depending on the size of your oven, you might have to use two baking sheets.
- Bake for 4 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. To store: transfer the dried tomatoes to a container and cover with canola or sunflower oil. Dried tomatoes will keep for up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator.
Preparing the Cheese
- Drain the cashews and place them in a large glass bowl. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, pour the water directly onto the cashews. Let sit 1-2 minutes and drain the cashews again. This step will help kill possible bacterias.
- Place the drained cashews in the bowl of the blender or food processor. Add the dried tomatoes, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, and two tablespoons of water.
- 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 or the cheeses will be very hard to handle during the aging step.
- 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 another few seconds.
- Add the penicillium candidum and continue to blend for another 10 seconds. If your penicillium candidum is in liquid form, use about 1/8 tsp.
- Once your mixture is smooth, transfer to a clean bowl. At this step, you can stir in some chopped dried tomato pieces if you want more texture. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth touching the mixture, this will prevent the top from drying. Let the cashew cream ferment at room temperature for 12-36H.
- After about 12 hours, taste the cashew cream. It should have a slightly sour taste, like fresh cream cheese. If it doesn’t and still has a strong cashew flavor, let it sit on the counter for another 12 hours.
- Once cultured, remove the damp cloth and cover with plastic film to touch. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Once cold, the cashew cream will be slightly firmer, easier to work with.
- Line a baking sheet, or large flat plate with parchment paper. Place 3 4-inch springform pans on top (without the bottom). I used food rings like these. Cut strips of parchment paper and lay them in the pans to cover the sides, alternatively you can cover the pans with plastic film if you prefer. The goal is to prevent the cheese from touching and sticking to the metal. Fill the pans with the cashew cream and press it down using plastic film so it doesn’t stick to your hands. Make sure the surface is flat.
- Cover each cheese with a glass or plastic container, I used small glass containers but you can also use bowls. This is essential to keep enough humidity and allow the mold to grow. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator, or in a room at a temperature of 50-56°F (10-13°C). I recommend setting the temperature of your fridge at its highest, around 50°F (10°C).
- Every day for the next 3 days, carefully flip the cheeses. The cheeses will still be very soft, like cream cheese. This step is the most difficult, but don’t worry they will be easier to work with after a few days. I usually use a plate lined with parchment paper to flip them. You don’t have to leave them in the pans at this step, but it can be helpful to flip them. Always place the cheeses back in the refrigerator after flipping.
- On day 4, sprinkle about 1/4 tsp of salt over the top of the cheese, flip it and sprinkle another 1/4 tsp on the over side. Rub with your finger to distribute the salt evenly on each side and on the sides. Do the same with the other cheeses. Cover the cheeses with the containers and place them back in the refrigerator.
- Continue to flip the cheeses every day for the next two weeks, leaving them covered in the refrigerator all the time. 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. Once the mold has started to appear, you can transfer the cheeses to a grid or bamboo mat to let the mold grow better (still leaving them in the refrigerator, covered). After another week or so, the cheeses should be fully covered with white mold.
- 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.
- Enjoy with bread, crackers, pesto, nuts, or even jam. The cheese will keep for at least 1 month in the refrigerator.
Nutritional information is an estimate.
- Serving Size: 1/8 of a cheese (about 1 oz)
- Calories: 84
- Sugar: 1.2g
- Fat: 6.6g
- Carbohydrates: 5.3g
- Fiber: 0.7g
- Protein: 2.3g