Have you ever tried to make nut cheese and wondered why it didn’t turn out right? Too chunky, pasty, perhaps a little dry, and sometimes it might not taste so good either? It’s not you and it’s not the nuts that are the problem; it’s all about the technique and learning a few tips to make nut cheese a success.

But first, why nut cheese and not dairy cheese or just a store-bought alternative? If you have a lactose intolerance or don’t eat dairy, chances are you’ve either tried a lot of alternative cheese products, given it up altogether, or you’re still experimenting with homemade, natural dairy-free cheese options like nut cheese or even seed cheeses. Homemade is always best; these options are fresher and contain no nasty chemicals or emulsifiers like store-bought options. Homemade recipes also taste much better when you make them correctly. While some people just use nutritional yeast for the cheesy flavor and call it a day without needing much more, others are all about the texture; they want something thick to spread on crackers or want a creamy dip. That’s where other ingredients like nuts and seeds can be used. Almonds, cashews, hemp, and sunflower seeds are some of the most common used in non-dairy cheese recipes. These are full of healthy fats and also very satiating. But you can’t just put them in a food processor and make them into cheese like you do nut butter— there are some things you should know first.

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So, in honor of National Cheese Day, we thought we would show you how to make your nut (and seed) cheeses creamy so you can experience that delicious flavor you’re looking for, along with that creamy texture too!

1. Soak First

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Always soak your nuts and seeds before you do anything else. The only exception to this is if you’re solely using hemp seeds (which are very soft and will blend without soaking). Otherwise, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, and all other nut or seed options should be soaked.

Soaking helps soften the nuts, so when you drain them, they’ll blend up quite easily and the mix will become creamier. Most nuts and seeds need at least 12 hours soak time, though harder options like almonds may need up to 18 hours. Leave these in your fridge or on the counter out of the sun so they don’t sprout. Be sure they’re completely covered in water as well.

2. Use Quality Equipment

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You’ll need a food processor that’s in good condition or a high-speed blender. Don’t expect to use a hand mixer and get the best results. Some food processors may also not have enough power to process the nuts into a creamy consistency, though most will do the job just fine. Household blenders will not make nut cheese, however, high-speed blenders can and will do a great job, just like they can with nut butters.

3. Follow a Recipe

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Most newbies start out with a recipe, however, if you’ve never made nut cheese before, be sure you do and don’t just try out any combination. You’ll need other ingredients besides just nuts to make your cheese, such as nutritional yeast, seasonings, and other special, easy-to-find ingredients. Some recipes will use other ingredients that help the cheese emulsify, which also makes it much more creamy as a result. Depending on the type of cheese you’re making and the sharpness, flavor called for (cheddar, etc.), different ingredients will need to be used in specific amounts. So follow a recipe to be safe … we’ve got plenty to chose from, just in case you were wondering!

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4. Be Sure to Rinse and Drain Your Nuts First

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Before you start the recipe process, make sure your nuts have thoroughly drained after you’ve soaked them and rinsed them. The soaking process is meant to help them soak up water to blend easily, but sometimes, they tend to hold onto more water than you want in a cheese recipe. Let them strain in a colander for a good five minutes before you make your recipe. You may also want to give them a few good rinses to be sure that any residue they retain after soaking is rinsed off. You can also let them dry on a kitchen towel first in an even layer so they’re not too wet for a few minutes.

5. Process and Adjust

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Once you’ve got your recipe set to go, you’ll add your ingredients to the food processor and begin. Normally, most recipes will call for the nuts to be added first and then you’ll process those to break them down and blend them before adding in other ingredient (which is a good tip, even if the recipe doesn’t call for this step). After you’ve done what the recipe instructs you to do, be willing to adjust. You may have to process a couple of times, longer than what you wish (depending on the machine), and may have to stop and stir, then process again. Whatever you do, don’t let the motor burn up your machine. High-speed blenders will cut off automatically, but most food processors won’t. Better to stop and start, then start again just to be safe. At the end, you should have a lovely consistency that’s creamy and perfect for spreading or dipping, depending on the type of cheese you’ve chose to make.

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Now, let’s get to making some vegan cheese, shall we? In case you’re on the fence and having a hard time giving up dairy cheese, see these tips to help you overcome your cheese cravings and get some other tips for making vegan cheeses a success!

Lead Image Source: Warm ‘Vegveeta’ Cheese Dip