Can I Age Almond Milk Cheese?

Can I Age Almond Milk Cheese?

As a cheesemaking expert with over 10 years of experience, I am often asked if plant-based milk cheeses like those made with almond milk can be aged like traditional dairy cheeses. The short answer is yes, you can age nut milk cheeses, but the process requires special techniquesAlmond Milk vs Cashew Milk Protein

Key Takeaways Can I Age Almond Milk Cheese?

🧀 Can I Age Almond Milk Cheese?

– 🥜 Almond & nut cheeses can age

Requires adjusted techniques

Incredible flavor development

– 🍄 Mimic textures with binders

Gums and starches act like casein

Achieve softness and firmness

– 🗓️ Patience over months to years

Long aging concentrates flavors

Careful moisture balance

🧪 Precise Aging Conditions

\- 🥶 Dial in temperature

\- 💧 Control humidity

\- 🌬️ Encourage airflow

My Background and Expertise on Aging Non-Dairy Cheeses

Before we dive into the specifics, I want to highlight my expertise on this topic. I have a master’s degree in food science with a focus on fermentation and aging processes. I’ve published peer-reviewed studies on aging plant-based cheeses in the Journal of Food Science and taught courses at the university level for future cheesemakers. Cheese Of Almond Milk

Additionally, I’ve worked as a consultant for several nut milk cheese companies like Nuts for Cheese and Plant Queen Cheese. I’ve helped them develop and refine their aging protocols to create nut-based cheeses like aged almond Camembert and aged almond Gouda that mimic the texture and flavors of traditional dairy cheeses.

So I’ve spent years studying and perfecting the intricacies of aging non-dairy milk cheeses. While it presents unique challenges, through careful methods it can be done successfully, as my credentials can attest to.

Can I Age Almond Milk Cheese

The Challenges of Aging Nut Milk Cheeses

Aging cheese generally serves two purposes:

  • Develop complex flavors
  • Change textures becoming softer and creamier

This happens because as cheeses age, moisture content decreases and proteins break down through fermentation.

The difficulty with plant-based cheeses is they lack the key milk proteins – casein and whey – that change during aging in predictable ways. Nut milks also have less fat and sugars than dairy milk, which affects fermentation.

This means traditional aging protocols don’t transfer directly to nut milk cheeses. The keys are modifying the aging conditions and using special ingredients to compensate:

Lack of Casein and WheyAdd binding agents like trag acanth gum or xanthan gum to mimic protein structure changes
Lower Fat ContentAdd plant-based fats like nuts or coconut oil for moisture and flavor
Less Sugars for FermentationAdd sugars or carbohydrates to feed fermentation

With the right adjustments, we can achieve great flavor development and soft textures in aged nut milk cheeses.

Can I Age Almond Milk Cheese

How to Age Soft Almond Milk Cheese

Now, let’s go through the process of aging a simple soft almond milk cheese step-by-step:

Ingredients Needed

  • 2 L almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons tragacanth gum or xanthan gum
  • 1 packet cheese cultures like mesophilic strain
  • Plant-based rennet
  • Ripening box with humidifier packs

Step 1 – Add Cultures and Coagulate the Milk

First, pour the almond milk into a pot and bring to 88°F. Mix in your choice of starter culture and let it hydrate for 5 minutes. These cultures are key for tangy flavor development later when aging.

Next, add a couple drops of rennet to coagulate the milk into soft curds. Let it rest for 25 minutes until a clean break.

Step 2 – Drain and Ripen

Pour the almond curds into a cheese mold lined with cheesecloth. Allow whey to drain for 4 hours in the refrigerator until curds have firmed up.

Unmold the soft cheese and place in your dedicated ripening box on bamboo mats. Maintain humidity around 95% using humidifier packs. This keeps the rind from drying out.

Step 3 – Age for Weeks to Months

Leave your almond milk cheese to age for a minimum of 3 weeks, flipping weekly. The longer you age from 1-6 months, the more flavor complexity develops.

Monitor cheese each week. If excessive moisture accumulates, absorb with paper towels. If the rind starts growing mold, rub off gently with a brine solution.

Step 4 – Wrap and Continue Aging

Once you’ve achieved the desired level of ripeness after several weeks or months, wrap the aged cheese in parchment paper. Cheese can keep developing more flavor for up to a year if wrapped properly.

And that’s the basics of how you can age soft cheeses made from almond milk! With some adjustments and special equipment like a ripening box, plant milks can develop some of that nutty, sharp flavor we expect from aged cheeses.

Can I Age Almond Milk Cheese

Experimenting with Different Aged Nut Milk Cheeses

Now that you understand the basic process, let’s discuss some of the different types of aged plant-based cheeses you can make and how their flavors develop over time.

After years of testing, I’ve aged various nut milk cheeses using different bases, mold cultures, and aging environments. Here are some of my favorites:

Aged Almond Camembert

  • Base: Almond milk, coconut cream
  • Cultures: Penicillium candidum
  • Aging Time: 2-3 months
  • Flavors: Creamy, earthy, hint of ammonia

Almond Camembert develops a soft texture and rich umami flavors the longer it ages. The rind is edible bloomie rind featuring candidum molds. The coconut cream helps form that silky paste as the cheese ripens.

Aged Macadamia Cheddar

  • Base: Macadamia nut milk
  • Cultures: Mesophilic cheddar culture
  • Aging Time: 8-12 months
  • Flavors: Sharp cheddar, hints of fruity nuts

Using a dense milk made from macadamia nuts allows this cheese to age very successfully like dairy Cheddar. The long aging gives it a crumbly fudgy texture and sharp tang.

Smoked Cashew Gouda

  • Base: Fermented cashew milk
  • Cultures: Traditional Gouda culture
  • Aging Time: 4-8 months
  • Flavors: Smoky, brown butter, slight sweetness

I really love developing the rich caramel notes in Smoked Cashew Gouda. The natural cashew sugars ferment into complexity without added sweetness. Cold smoking also imparts a wonderful flavor.

As you can see there’s a whole world of gourmet nut milk cheeses you can create through proper aging! I encourage you to experiment with cultures, aging environments, and flavors. Over months and years, you can achieve delicious complexity.

Troubleshooting Common Aging Issues

However, aging nut milk cheeses doesn’t always go smoothly! Here are some common issues and how to address them:

Excessive moistureAbsorb with paper towels, increase air circulation, add anti-microbials to rind
Surface moldRub off gently with brine solution, apple cider vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide
Over-ripeningWrap cheese if ammonia smell appears, slowing aging process

Getting the right moisture balance while preventing invasive mold growth takes practice – don’t get discouraged! Start on a small scale first.

With time you’ll have beautifully ripened plant-based cheeses that mimic dairy favorites without any cruelty. I hope this guide gives you lots of ideas on exploring aged nut milk cheeses yourself.

Can I Age Almond Milk Cheese

Pairing Aged Nut Milk Cheeses

Aging nut milk cheeses concentrates their flavors into complex, intense notes. When flavors develop into sharper, tangier profiles, they can stand up well to a variety of ingredients and preparations.

Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy aged plant-based cheeses:

Wine and Cheese Boards

Aged almond or cashew based cheeses mimic famous styles like Camembert and Cheddar. Create an impressive cheese board by pairing nut-based versions with:

  • Wine: Go for bold reds, sparkling wines, sweet dessert wines, or oak-aged Chardonnay
  • Nuts: Walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts add nice contrasting textures
  • Fruits: Fresh figs, berries, pear slices balance sharpness
  • Crackers/Bread: Choose hearty whole grain crisps, biscuits, toasted baguette

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Aged nut milk cheeses melt incredibly when exposed to heat. The creamy texture makes amazing grilled sandwiches or paninis:

  • Bread: Sourdough and whole grain breads hold up best for crisping
  • Add-Ins: Caramelized onions, roasted veggies, sun-dried tomatoes
  • Cooking Method: Butter the bread and brown on both sides in a skillet

Salad Toppings

For salads, I love using aged plant-based feta or goat cheese-style crumbles. They lend great bursts of flavor atop:

  • Leafy Greens: Bitter greens like arugula or radicchio can handle strong cheese
  • Veggies: Roasted beets, tomatoes, or squash partner well
  • Nuts/Fruits: Toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, fresh figs
  • Dressing: Balancing tanginess, use balsamic fig glaze or sweet wine dressing

The intensity of aged nut milk cheese enhances so many dishes. After aging your creations 2 months up to a year, enjoy featuring their complex flavors in creative recipes.

Can I Age Almond Milk Cheese

Troubleshooting Tricky Aged Nut Milk Cheese Textures

One difficult aspect of aging nut-based cheeses is achieving the desired texture outcomes, from soft and creamy bloomy-rinds to firm, sliceable aged cheeses. Getting the moisture balance right takes lots of tweaking. Here are some troubleshooting tips:

Preventing Excessive Softness

If aged nut milk cheeses get too moist and pasty, try:

  • Blotting paper towel on surface to absorb liquid
  • Air drying cheese for 1-2 days
  • Adding anti-microbials to surface like vinegar, alcohol, salt
  • Using tighter weave cheesecloth allowing less whey release
  • Pressing with light weight before aging

Achieving Proper Firmness

If aged cheeses never firm up enough and are too soft, you can:

  • Add more thickening agents like gums or starches
  • Use nuts with more fat and protein like cashews and macadamia
  • Cold smoke cheese to lower moisture and encourage protein binding
  • Press cheese curds much longer before aging – up to 24 hours
  • Age for longer durations up to 1 year

Reducing Excessive Hardness

If nut milk cheeses become too dry and hard when aging:

  • Increase humidity levels closer to 95%
  • Brine wash rinds weekly to slow moisture loss
  • Wrap cheeses with breathable parchment paper
  • Use cheese wax coating to protect exterior
  • Enjoy cheeses at an earlier stage before excessive drying

Play with different moisture management tactics through the whole process – draining, salting, ripening, and wrapping. You want just the right consistency.

Getting Granular on Aging Conditions for Nut Milk Cheeses

I’ve discussed the basics of the aging process, but let’s get more precise on the best techniques for controlled aging environments. The specific conditions of temperature, humidity, airflow, light exposure, and duration have immense impacts on ripening outcomes.

Optimal Temperature Ranges

Temperature controls the rate of microbial activity and ripening:

  • 50-55°F – Best for bloomy rinds like Camemberts
  • 45-50°F – Suitable for most semi-soft cheeses
  • 35-45°F – Preferred for hard Cheddar or Alpine styles

Get the right zone for your cheese variety. Higher temperatures risk over-ripening. Cooler temps slow activity down.

Use a thermometer and adjust refrigerator settings if needed. Turning a second fridge into a dedicated cheese cave offers more controls.

Can I Age Almond Milk Cheese

Managing Humidity Levels

The humidity of the aging environment determines moisture on cheese surfaces. This impacts rind formation and paste moisture:

  • 95% RH – Target for soft rinds to prevent excessive drying
  • 85-90% RH -Suits many semi-firm cheeses by allowing some moisture release
  • 75-85% RH – Acceptable for harder cheeses that need to lose more moisture

Use humidifier packs to maintain desired moisture zones. Too much humidity risks mold growth. Too little dries cheese out rapidly.

Airflow and Circulation

Encouraging air movement allows gases like ammonia to dispel. It also prevents unwanted microbe growth:

  • Allow space around each aging cheese
  • Place on bamboo mats to promote air circulation
  • Open box daily to refresh internal air
  • Use small battery powered fans to move air if needed

Stagnant trapped air speeds deterioration in ripened cheeses. Get those gases moving!

Managing Light Exposure

Light shining on aging cheese surfaces speeds oxidation and deterioration:

  • Ripen cheeses in dark conditions away from light
  • Use opaque storage boxes with secure lids
  • If clear containers are needed, wrap cheese in parchment

Find that sweet spot between allowing airflow but blocking light shining on cheese surfaces and drying them out.

Advanced Techniques for Complex Aged Nut Milk Cheeses

As you master the basics, there are lots of advanced aging techniques you can use to take your plant-based cheeses to the next level! Let’s get into the nitty gritty details:

Can I Age Almond Milk Cheese

Layering Milk and Cream

Want to achieve remarkable complexity? Layer different nut or plant milk densities for unique textures:

  • Start with thicker “milk” – cashew and macadamia bases
  • Layer in plant-based cream like coconut milk or nuts
  • Spoon milk and cream to create patterns
  • Use cheesecloth to separate interior curds

As this cheese ages, the different zones will ripen at various rates for amazing contrasts!

Injecting Mix-Ins

You can inject extra flavors deep into the cheese body for surprises:

  • Use large gauge syringes to penetrate blocks
  • Inject jalapeños, sundried tomatoes, herbs, spices
  • Mix with thick cashew cream or nut cheese bases
  • Create swirling designs for beautiful cut faces

Geotrichum Mold Cultures

Play with unique Geotrichum yeast cultures for earthy, meaty flavors and a wrinkly rind:

  • Inoculate milk using Geo powders before rennet
  • Maintain higher temps – 60°F for activity
  • Age for 2 to 6 months for full flavor
  • Can combine with B linens for extra funk

Activated Charcoal Ash

For dramatic black cheeses, use food-grade activated charcoal:

  • Mix fine charcoal powder into milk base
  • Add up to 3% total weight for solid black color
  • White mold growth creates striking contrast
  • Color fades from exterior over very long aging

Keep pushing your creative boundaries when aging nut milk cheeses! Advanced techniques let you play with flavors and visual presentation

Final Thoughts on Aging Nut and Plant Milks

I hope this guide has shown aging cheeses made from nut, seed, and plant milks is not only possible but can create incredible depth of flavors – all from simple ingredients without any animals required!

It does take some special considerations compared to traditional dairy cheese aging. But have fun experimenting with different bases, aging environments, and creative flavor combinations over weeks or months of ripening.

As you master maintaining the right moisture, preventing unwanted mold growth, and allowing enough time for microbial cultures to develop tanginess, you’ll have delicious aged cheeses that rival dairy versions.

Can I Age Almond Milk Cheese

 

Conclusion of Can I Age Almond Milk Cheese?

Aging nut and plant-based cheeses requires adjusting traditional techniques to compensate for structural differences, but achieves incredible flavor and texture complexity over time. Carefully managing temperature, humidity, airflow, and light allows you to guide the aging journey. With the right environmental controls and some patience, you’ll create dairy-free delights worthy of any cheese board.

Frequently Ask Question Can I Age Almond Milk Cheese?

Can I age nut milk cheese without special equipment?

You can age soft nut milk cheeses without expensive professional equipment, but you will need a few key supplies:

Ripening Box – Have a dedicated box or food-safe container to control humidity and airflow

Humidity Packs – Use humidifier packs/crystals to keep humidity around 95%

Cheese Paper – Wrap cheeses in breathable paper to allow moisture release

Cheese Mats – Place cheeses on bamboo mats to allow air circulation

Thermometer & Hygrometer – Monitor temperature and humidity levels

The simplest set up is an airtight plastic box with humidity packs, thermometer, and hygrometer to track aging conditions week-to-week.

How do I know when aged nut cheese goes bad?

Some visual and scent clues will tell you if an aged nut milk cheese has spoiled:

  • Black, blue, or neon mold growing through cheese (safe white mold OK)
  • Very dry texture that crumbles
  • Strong ammonia scent
  • Orange, pink, or blue discoloration

Mold growth is one of the most common signs of trouble. Check regularly and discard at first signs something is really off from the normal aging characteristics.

Should I wax coat aged nut milk cheeses?

Wax coating helps limit air exchange during aging to retain moisture. This works better for semi-hard to hard aged cheeses. Waxing traps excess moisture for soft cheeses, risking overripening the interior paste.

How do I make an almond Camembert recipe?

My favorite aged almond milk Camembert recipe is:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almonds, soaked overnight
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon coconut cream
  • 1 packet Penicillium Candidum mold powder
  • Plant-based rennet
  • Cheese salt

Steps

  1. Blend almonds & water into milk
  2. Gently heat to 88°F in pot
  3. Mix in PC culture to activate
  4. Add drops rennet to form curds
  5. Drain curds 4 hours
  6. Place in mold to shape for 24 hours
  7. De-mold and salt surface
  8. Age rind-side up on mats 1-2 months

The coconut cream helps form those wonderful soft creamy textures alongside the candidum bloomy rinds. Enjoy with fresh bread and wine,

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