Vegan cheese has come a long way in the past decade, from a lifeless, looks like cheese but tastes gross package of slices to incredibly creamy, tangy, salty, better than traditional cheese options. Many of the options available at stores are either a combination of oils and starches to make shreds, slices and blocks or have a base of cashews for amazingly creamy and delicious nut cheeses that are typically in blocks with a few options available in shreds and slices. Regardless, these cheeses are absolutely incredible and there truly is a vegan cheese for every palate and recipe.
Recipes are abundant online as well, with a variety of make-your-own nut cheeses that typically utilize the versatile cashew as it’s creamy and buttery with a neutral flavor that works well for a cheese alternative. For those who want something different, vegan almond cheese is an amazing alternative to more processed cheeses and cashew based-nut cheeses. It has great texture and flavor.
Almond cheese has been gaining in popularity in recent years with the advent of Kite Hill. This brand that uses traditional cheese making methods including culturing with almonds to create a whole line of dairy alternatives including cream cheese spreads as well as ricotta. These spreads are creamy, tangy, and taste absolutely incredible, gaining them a quick and rather massive following. With packaged almond cheese already here and delicious, the questions may be why try almond cheese? What can almond cheese be used on? Can vegan almond cheese be made at home? We aim to answer all of these questions and more as we share all about this delicious vegan cheese alternative and why it’s time to give it a try.
The Delicious Almond
Almonds have been loved and enjoyed for thousands of years, even getting a mention in The Bible. They’ve been enjoyed all over Europe and Asia, in places such as China, Spain, and Italy for thousands of years. The almond was brought to California in the 1700s by Franciscan Padre’s, and by 1900, almonds were grown abundantly in the state. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, in 2017 almonds were the third top commodity grown and sold. It grossed $5.60 billion dollars. Additionally, it’s estimated that California grows 100 percent of the commercial domestic supply of almonds and a whopping 80 percent of the world’s supply. These nuts are clearly loved for their delicious taste and health benefits and are quite profitable.
Are Almonds Sustainable?
There has been considerable concern in recent years about the sustainability of almonds. The concerns deal with the vast amounts of space used for a single crop, the number of bees required and what the transportation does to them, the packaging required to “bottle” almond milk, and most concerning and often brought up, is the amount of water used to produce almonds.
The water concern is at the heart of the issue of sustainability as they are grown in a drought-stricken state and in some areas where the drought is truly severe which increases the need for irrigation. This has given many an almond lover pause as to whether or not it is wise to use almonds at all, or whether they should give up their beloved almonds (whether in milk or cheese form) and switch over to dairy. The quick and easy answer is no.
Almonds vs. Dairy
Dairy is the number one top grossing “commodity” in California, and the long and short of it is that cows require far more water than almonds to produce their milk. Additionally, cattle raising and the dairy industry is extremely destructive to the Earth contributing significantly to greenhouse gases and also creates pollution from the runoff of where they are raised, making dairy a far less environmentally friendly option than almond milk, despite the bad press it has gotten.
While it is true that monoculture is not great for the earth and we certainly should be conscious of how much water crops use, it’s also important to remember to investigate all sides of the issue and who may be creating the concern. There are several ways in which almond farmers are being encouraged to be more sustainable. And the best option for current almond consumption is to purchase organic when possible. Two great articles dispelling the myth that dairy is better than almonds for the earth are available here and here.
Most people consider almonds healthy food, but just how nutrient-rich they are is quite impressive. Almonds are full of fiber and protein. They provide ample amounts of Vitamin E, biotin, manganese, and magnesium, among other nutrients. They’ve also been shown to:
How Can Almond Cheese Be Used?
The same way any cheese is used! Smearing an almond based cream cheese on a bagel is exquisite. And using an almond ricotta in lasagna will have you hooked! Almond cheeses are great stand-ins for other vegan cheeses and hold up well to heat. So enjoy them in any way you please!
Vegan Almond Cheese Must-Try Recipes
Making your own vegan almond cheese at home can be an easy and enjoyable experience. It saves money, can be catered to your tastebuds and you can guarantee the ingredients in it are up to your standards. The following recipes convert the delicious almond into an exquisite array of commonly used cheeses such as ricotta, feta and mozzarella. It’s important to note the type of almonds each recipe uses before trying it. This can make a significant difference in terms of taste and texture. Most recipes use blanched almonds, or ones that have removed the skin. This makes the recipe smoother and creamier and also contributes to an overall more cheese-like appearance. nuts.com is a great resource for blanched almonds and has them available in both conventional and organic options.
Recipe: Basic Almond Cheese
Where to Find It: Lands & Flavors
Why We Love It: This is a delicious and simple recipe that requires just a few basic ingredients that are most likely already in your kitchen. It takes a little forethought to prepare in time for when you need it, but it is well worth it. It’s delicious spread on crackers or if baked a little longer, it crumbles well over your salad, pasta, or pizza.
Recipe: Almond Cream Cheese
Where to Find It: Vegan Huggs
Why We Love It: This recipe is oh so creamy, it’s amazingly tangy. It even has probiotics to make it a great healthy dairy-free alternative. This recipe can be made and enjoyed immediately, so it’s a great easy option for quick cream cheese.
Recipe: Whipped Almond Ricotta
Where to Find It: Minimalist Baker
Why We Love It: This ricotta has similar ingredients to a few of the other recipes. But it is unique enough in flavor and texture that it’s worth mentioning. It’s absolutely addictive and is amazing on everything from pizza and lasagna to even cheesecake (omit the garlic!).
Recipe: Herb Marinated Almond Feta
Where to Find It: Sunnyside Hanne
Why We Love It: This is a super unique recipe that is extremely delicious and worth trying. The ingredients are easy enough to find and the technique doesn’t take too long, just a little extra preparing. It’s amazing on salads, served on cheese platters or just smeared on some delicious crackers. It’s a great recipe to make to wow both vegan friends and skeptics alike.
Recipe: Almond Mozzarella Cheese
Where to Find It: Responsible Eating and Living
Why We Love It: This cheese has an amazing texture and light flavor that works great as a stand in for mozzarella. The recipe takes a little forethought and seeking out a few extra ingredients but is totally worth it. It’s amazing on pizza and pasta or even a caprese salad.
Recipe: Garlic Herb Vegan Almond Cheese Spread
Where to Find It: Delightful Adventures
Why We Love It: This recipe is similar to a few others in ingredients. But it is customizable using different herbs such as hot pepper flakes or chili powder. It’s incredible spread on crackers or cucumbers or even as a spread for a sandwich along with roasted vegetables.
Recipe: Almond Parmesan Cheeze
Where to Find It: The Tasty K
Why We Love It: This recipe is really quite easy and comes together in 5 minutes or less, making it an easy last-minute addition to dinner. We love how complex the flavor is with the sweetness of the almonds, cheesiness of the nutritional yeast, savoriness of the garlic and of course the saltiness. This is absolutely amazing atop pasta and salads and is a great departure from more processed vegan parmesans available.
Recipe: Almond Gruyere
Where to Find It: Mary’s Test Kitchen
Why We Love It: We admit, this recipe takes time, patience and forethought. But honestly, if you love to make things yourself and you love good tangy cheese, this recipe will not disappoint. It has a unique tangy flavor reminiscent of traditional cheeses. And the texture is firm, sliceable, yet a bit crumbly, just like any fine cheese. It’s got all the best qualities of traditional cheese but without the guilt or cruelty, so it’s an all-around win!