The Next Big Thing: Artisanal Vegan Cheese

April 7, 2014

Most vegans have a love-hate relationship with vegan cheeses. New vegans generally don’t take to the taste of non-dairy cheeses–and even experienced vegans who have acquired the taste for them, might feel conflicted about buying something processed. Personally, I no longer want to buy things that I wouldn’t be able to replicate at home, using natural (ie non-industrial) ingredients in my pantry. But do I really want to give up vegan cheese? No.

Avellana Vegan Cheese - 6 flavors

Avellana means hazelnut in Spanish!

 Enter Avellana Creamery vegan cheese, co-founded by none other than long-time Peaceful Dumpling contributor Susana Romatz! Avellana cheeses use hazelnuts grown at Meridian Hazelnut Orchard in Oregon, rather than more exotic nuts like cashews or macadamia nuts from tropical locales, or even coconut/palm oil base favored by most mainstream vegan cheese brands. This lowers their carbon footprint, and ensures that the people who provided our base ingredient were paid and treated properly.

Sprouted hazelnuts used to make Avellana vegan cheese

What I think makes Avellana truly special is that they use the same artisanal method that traditional dairy cheese makers have used for centuries. Most nut-based vegan cheeses are made by grinding nuts into paste and adding flavors and cultures. Instead, Avellana cheeses are made by grinding the hazelnuts and then strain off the fiber of the nut, using only the rich and smooth cream. Using this artisanal method takes longer and requires more skill, but because of it, there are no thickeners, no fillers, and no nut-pulp.

The best part about this is that ingredients are so honest and simple: hazelnut milk, salt, spices, vegan enzymes and cultures, and a tiny bit of organic olive oil to finish. Nothing you can’t pronounce, no “…dextrin” or “isolated xxx protein,” etc.

Vegan cheese spread by Avellana

Vegan cheese gone artisanal!

Avellana is still in its early stage, with plans to offer three types of cheese by mid-summer: vegan hazelnut ricotta, fromage blanc (a soft, spreadable creamy cheese good for toast, bagels, alfredo, or dolloping into soup), and a Boursault-style cheese (a super flavorful and sliceable cheese). Anyone who’d like to try the cheeses can donate to Avellana’s IndieGogo campaign! Also check out more on Avellana’s facebook page.

Vegan ricotta cheese by Avellana

Vegan ricotta cheese

Vegan boursault cheese by Avellana

Boursault cheese with cacao nibs


Related: All About Umami – The Secret to Vegan Cooking

Vegan 101: 10 Tips for New Vegans

Reader Question – I’m Having Trouble Giving Up Cheese


Photo: Avellana

Juhea is the founder and editor of Peaceful Dumpling and the author of bestselling novel Beasts of a Little Land. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, @juhea_writes and Pinterest.


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