13 May 2020 – Old May Day

Today I’ve been making cheese. Well, fake cheese. It’s Old May Day* the traditional start to the cheese making season. And blessed are the cheese makers. 

Making real cheese I’m told, is a right old faff. Making vegan cheese is dead easy, all you need is a food processer and lots of ingredients that shouldn’t work together but somehow do. I decided to follow a recipe for vegan cheddar cheese with jalapeño. Jeez. 

I went rogue within the first line of the recipe. I had things to do, so wasn’t about to wait for four hours while the cashews soaked, then another four hours for the cheese to get all firm. So tipping my nuts into a saucepan, I boiled them up, added some lemon juice and let them sit for 15 mins while I prepped the other ingredients. Then everything apart from the coconut oil and the jalapeños went into the food processor and mixed until smooth. Except it never really got to the smooth stage as my boiling hack hadn’t been completely successful. 

After a long old grind, I added the oil, ground again and stirred in the chillies. But there was so much unincorporated oil that I ended up re-blending. Finally it looked reasonable, so I shoved it in the fridge and got on with the washing up

Six hours later (I got busy), everything was firm. And it smelled incredible. Gouging the slab out with a butter knife, I wrapped it in clingfilm. Although there was no real need to shape it, I felt given the strange propensity for rolling cheese throughout the folklore year, mine shouldn’t be anything other than ball shape. 

The jeez felt very solid, a bit like rolling modelling clay. But once it started to warm up things got easier. The final flourish was supposed to be a liberal sprinkling of almond slivers, but I only had sparse. 

I’ll be honest, cutting into it felt more pâté than cheddar. And looking at it, I was half expecting it to taste like gjeitost (guilty pleasure Norwegian cheese). But on first contact, it did taste a little like proper strong cheese. Until the chillies and tomato utterly obliterated any other flavour. But delicious. Absolutely delicious.

So yes, I know it’s not cheese, but if you lower your expectation for an exact cow’s milk copy, it does a decent job. And I shall continue to enjoy its slightly eye watering composition regardless. I just have to work out how I can make fake fondue fodder and I’ll be as happy as a Randwick Wapper. 

*It may not be precisely Old May Day as another source has it as yesterday, and another the day before that. It’s around here sometime though. 


Resources

Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

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