Monday, February 6, 2012

Cultured Coconut Milk Cheese

I had plans for a big fancy recipe full of formal cheese making techniques. Then because of time and necessity (and accidents :), this recipe has been down-graded to being easy and painless! Just takes a couple days of you not doing anything and letting the cheese sit out on the counter- prep time is only a couple minutes.

The consistency of this "cheese" is much like ricotta or cream cheese. Naturally cultured foods are beneficial to our immune systems. I came up with this recipe because, while I love the taste and benefits of cultured non-dairy products, I do not love the price of buying culture starters (the non-dairy versions are pretty pricey) or big brand pre-made versions in the store.

This keeps well when refrigerated for up to 1 week- enjoy!

Cultured Coconut Milk Cheese

Yields: 3/4-1 cup of cheese

Ingredients

  • the thick, white coconut milk fat from 1 can of organic coconut milk (1 can of a good brand will yield about 1 cup- I have had success with Thai Kitchen brand and Native Forest brand)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Equipment

  • mesh strainer, fitted over a bowl
  • 1 unbleached coffee filter

Method

  • If using a coconut milk brand listed above refrigerating might not be needed; however, most brands will require refrigerating to separate the white thick part from the more runny milky part first. This can be done by putting the can of coconut milk into the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
  • Mix the coconut milk fat, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl.
  • Prepare the strainer by placing the coffee filter in it, and over a bowl to catch the run-off of the cheese. No need for cheese cloth or anything fancy- I found for this recipe a coffee filter works best. Place the cheese mixture in the coffee filter.
  • Cover the whole thing and let sit at room temperature for 36-48 hours, or until desired taste is achieved. It should have a slight tang and a taste similar to cream cheese. You can let it sit out for longer if you like for a stronger cheese flavor.
  • Discard the drained part that is left in the bowl and wrap and cover the cheese and store in the refrigerator. This will be spreadable and firm even at room temperature.

This recipe has been linked up to:

11 comments :

  1. Hi Marietta,
    I just found your site and had to say what a great idea this is! I also saw that you make pumpkin seed milk which I love and plan to make sunflower seed milk tomorrow! Thanks for the great inspiration!
    Heather

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  2. wow.. i never thought of coconut milk cheese. this is suc a cool idea..i am going to check out more of your recipes!

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  3. when do you add the live cultures?

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    Replies
    1. Dam, there are no added cultures in this recipe. The culturing process happens by lacto-fermentation. There is a lot of information out there on lacto-fermentation not using a culture starter (usually using a form of acid and salt to prevent spoiling and optimal culturing conditions like in this recipe), so no need to add any extra live cultures. Just one less step :)

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  4. Eryn,

    Would this cheese hold up under oven heat, as in using it in a lasagna recipe? I would assume and additional thickener (agar agar) might be needed. What would be your take on the idea? We are gluten/diary/egg free and I so miss having cheese in my roasted vegie lasagna and was thinking of giving it a go but wanted to inquire what your thoughts in the hopes of getting closer to a success story. :-)

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    Replies
    1. I actually have not tried this yet under heat. It may lose some of it's "cultured" flavor if cooked in the oven for a while (since that will kill off much of the good bacteria); however, I do think it should hold up. The extra thickener is a good idea. But I'm not sure- when I do lasagna, I do a combination of a cheese like this and a nut cheese because the nut cheeses thicken well in a baked recipe.

      Hope that helps- I'd love to know how it turns out!

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  5. Do you think this will press well, to make more of a hard cheese? I have... devious plans.

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    Replies
    1. Theoretically it might...maybe if you leave it out and let it culture longer?? Then perhaps more liquid will evaporate- it is somewhat of a soft spreadable cheese, but I did not press it and try it out myself. Hope it (and your plans :) turns out well!

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  6. So sorry to sound dim, and I appreciate your patience, but I'm just not understanding how you end up with something more than salted, lemon flavored, fat. Isn't that all that is at the top of a can of coconut milk? Are there actually any proteins to culture?

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  7. Would it be possible to use vinegar in place of the lemon juice? I have a citrus allergy.

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  8. Hi, I want to try your recipe using fresh coconut milk just pressed from matured coconut meat. Do I need to pasteurize/heat the coconut milk first before adding the other ingredients to get rid of unwanted bacteria from the milk?

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