Behind the Scenes at Miyoko’s Cheese Factory

Never underestimate the power of one industrious nut… And all of the cashews that she employs, too! All jokes aside, vegan author, entrepreneur, and luminary Miyoko Schinner has a genuinely tenacious work ethic, working tirelessly to bring her creative visions to life. There are plenty of dreamers with bold ideas that never see the light of day, but Ms. Schinner wouldn’t back down in the face of impossible odds, launching the only cheese factory of its kind in the San Francisco bay area. Nut cheeses of all colors and stripes are now emerging on the market, but I can’t find a single competitor that painstakingly ages their offerings for weeks, or even months, after inoculating them with genuine cheese-making strains of bacteria. One could no doubt take this opportunity to tout the nutritional benefits sure to come from those healthy microorganisms, but for the connoisseur, these ingredients are simply the key to authentic funky flavors that are found nowhere else.

Luck (and Miyoko’s unending good graces and generosity) were on my side one cool fall afternoon, when I happened to find myself in town for a flash-in-the-pan photo shoot. With only a day’s notice, I found myself with the rare chance to peek behind the curtain in Miyoko’s Kitchen to see the cashews in action.

If you’ve ever made nut cheese at home, you already know how much raw material it takes to churn out one creamy wheel; multiply that by about 10,000, and you might have some idea of the scale of this operation. Huge, 25-pound bags of cashews are soaked and chewed up every day of production. To put it in perspective these things are the size and weight of a typical adult Beagle, requiring nearly as much love and attention, to boot. Unlike the options in her ground-breaking cookbook, these young rounds are not set with agar to expedite the process. After churning through an industrial-sized turbine of a blender and cooling down, the average cheese is aged for four weeks, tucked away on cozy refrigerated trays until the batch is fully ripened.

Initially struggling to keep up with demand, each prized wheel was as rare and rigorously guarded as solid bricks of gold. Spreading the wealth near and far, Miyoko’s cheeses are now readily available in most bay area Whole Foods and specialty markets, expanding outward across the country at a rapid pace. Roughly 5,000 pounds of glorious cashew cheese leave those factory doors every month, so it shouldn’t be long before they hit store shelves near you. In the meantime, you can order directly from the source, and yes, Miyoko can ship these creamy beauties all the way to Australia, too! For orders abroad, I would suggest you contact the cheese maven herself to secure personalized shipping info.

To be continued in Part Two. Next up is the good stuff, what you’ve no doubt been waiting for… The tasting notes, plus a perfectly cheesy recipe. Stay tuned!

13 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes at Miyoko’s Cheese Factory

  1. I bought Miyoko’s book when it was hot off the presses but have never attempted even one of the recipes. I have NO IDEA WHY! Your wonderful post (you always know how to bring out the best in your photos :) ) has me thinking about making some excellent narfish homemade vegan cheeze all over again. I think it is the expense involved. Nuts are not cheap and if you can imagine the prices that you guys pay and then quadruple them, that’s where we are here in Tasmania with the nut prices and humble students have to juggle their desires for homemade cheeze with all of the other things that they could buy with that amount of money. Can’t wait to see your recipe and process. I LOVE the photo’s of Miyoko. You captured her adventurous spirit incredibly well. You tell wonderful stories with your photo’s Hannah :)

  2. I have been gloriously surprised by how incredibly good these cheeses are. I had the pleasure of meeting the team at Expo West, too, and they are all so sweet! Looking forward to part 2.

  3. Thanks for the inside look at Miyoko’s factory. We had an opportunity to taste the cheese for the first time recently when we were in San Francisco. And, of course I’ve made my own cheeses using her recipes. This weekend Miyoko will be at Seattle Vegfest, sharing her cheese-making secrets, and I hope to attend her talk.

  4. Holy moly that is a TON of cashews!! I made a sunflower feta today that was decent, but nothing like miyoko’s cheeses, I’m sure!

  5. Now I know why my photos didn’t turn out when I visited last weekend. They weren’t necessary! What a great review and fantastic post about an inspiring and talented woman BY an inspiring and talented woman! <3 you both!!

Leave a Reply