While researching nuts for our recent Cheese+ special issue, we were lucky enough to catch up with Miyoko Schinner, founder of Miyoko’s Kitchen. Based in Fairfax, Calif., Schinner’s company makes vegan cheeses from a base of organic cashew milk. She’s always been inspired by a love for cheese; “I’ve been a vegan for 30 years, but prior to that I was a huge stinky, luscious, unctuous cheese aficionado,” she says. “To me a glass of wine with a beautiful cheese platter was the epitome of the good life. When I went vegan, it was the thing I missed the most.”
To make these cheese-inspired disks, she cultures creamy, protein-packed cashew milk using lactic acid fermentation. “Cashews are kind of the cow’s milk equivalent in the nut world, a very neutral flavor profile,” Schinner explains.
After our interview, Miyoko’s Kitchen sent us a selection of “cultured nut products” to feature in one of our weekly cheese tastings. Here’s our feedback:
- Classic Double Cream Chive: We love the ricotta-like, spreadable texture of this addicting chive-forward round. Smells like veggie cream cheese and tastes like veggie soup—brothy and bright. Try dipping cucumbers and carrots into it, or spread it onto a bagel.
- Aged English Smoked Farmhouse: It’s true: this crumbly, soft vegan cheese exudes aromas reminiscent of ham. Built to please the staunchest lovers of smoked foods.
- Country Style Herbes de Provence: Like the ash-coated version this flavor, which is graced with a generous dusting of Herbes de Provence, gets a hit of umami for an extra savory flavor. Herbs—particularly rosemary—balance that out, resulting in a combo reminiscent of roasted meat and soup broth.
- Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash: This disk’s contrast between super-black ash and cream-colored paste is gorgeous and striking. All salt and bouillon on the nose, its taste yields an initial tang followed by a concentrated, salty miso flavor. We’d smear this on a sandwich.
- French Style Winter Truffle: Super-light in texture, this one reminds us of a fluffy mushroom pâté just waiting to be scooped up by a cracker. An earthy flavor is boosted slightly—but not overpowered—by a hit of added truffle oil.