Can You Eat Cheese on a Raw Food Diet?

Woman Slicing Cheese in a Delicatessen

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The main raw diet principle is that food cannot be cooked but only heated to temperatures lower than 115 degrees Fahrenheit. This principle is based on the theory that uncooked foods are more nutritious than cooked foods, because important nutrients in the food begin to break down at 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Many of the finished products you will find at your local supermarket could have been made without cooking but are in fact not, because cooking is a way to make foods stay "fresh" longer. Regular cheeses are made via processes that involve cooking. So, if you follow a 100 percent raw diet, you cannot eat them. However, you can make your own raw cheese.

Raw Food Diet and Processed Foods

Many raw food dieters stay away from any processed food that is not processed recently. The main reason for this is that just as vitamins disintegrate during cooking processes, they also disintegrate over time. How fast vitamins are destroyed depends in part on how much air the food is in contact with. When food is stored in a processed form, the surface area of the food is greater, allowing more air to come into contact with the food. However, most raw dieters nonetheless eat stored processed foods, because it is too time consuming to make everything from scratch.

Concealed Cooking

If you allow stored processed foods to enter your system as long as the processing did not involve cooking, then your trips to the supermarket may end up being whole-day field trips, because you must study the label of any item before dropping it into your cart. Scrutinizing labels to ensure that a food does not mention obviously cooked ingredients, however, is no guarantee that the food processing did not involve cooking. The label on any regular bottle of tomato juice will tell you that the juice was made from tomato paste or concentrate. Tomato paste or concentrate can be made without cooking, but the commercial processing of tomatoes to make tomato paste involves cooking. The processing that goes into making regular cheeses also involves cooking. Regular cheeses are made from pasteurized milk, which has been heated to high temperatures to remove bacteria. So, regular cheeses are not included in a 100 percent raw diet.

Where to Find Raw Cheese

If you hate cooking or just don't have the time but love cheese, go to a specialty store and ask for cheese made from raw, unpasteurized milk. Local supermarkets often carry them, but the labeling can be ambiguous. Even expensive, imported cheeses sometimes contain cooked ingredients. For example, even if the cheese is made of unpasteurized milk, the cheese makers may have heated the milk to temperatures above 115 degrees Fahrenheit during the cheese-making process. So, if you can find the time, making your own cheese is a safer way to go.

How to Make Your Own Cheese

To make your own raw cheese, warm 1 gallon of raw milk to 68 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Mix 1/5 cup yogurt into the milk. Cover and let it sit overnight at room temperature. Next morning, warm the mixture to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Dissolve 1/5 of a tablet of rennet, a natural complex of enzymes, in a couple of spoonfuls of water and add it to the milk. Cover and let it rest until the mixture has turned into a firm gel that "breaks" around your finger if you stick it in the mix. Use a knife to cut the gel, or curd, into small cubes while it is still in the pot. Then mix it with your hands without squeezing or mashing. Use a knife to cut large pieces of curd. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Pour off excess whey. Heat to between 95 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit while stirring it constantly. Use the higher degrees to obtain a more firm cheese. You are done when the curd looks like scrambled eggs. Strain the curd to get rid of the whey. Add a tablespoon of sea salt. Put the curd in a cheese presser for 12 hours. If you don't have a cheese presser, use a small serving dish with edges. Cover it with parchment paper and then put something heavy on top for 12 hours.

Raw Vegan Nut Cheese

Some raw dieters stick to vegan eating principles either for health or moral reasons. If you follow a raw vegan diet, animal products are prohibited, but you can still have non-animal cheese. Nut cheese is a favorite among many raw vegan dieters. To make a delicious raw nut cheese, process a tablespoon of raw salt, 1 cup of pine nuts and 2 cups of sunflower seeds that have been soaked for four hours in your food processor. Add 1/3 cup of cold-pressed virgin olive oil and the juice from two lemons. The consistency should be thick. Scrape the sides to keep the processing going for at least five to 10 minutes. Add minced vegetable, such as spring onion. For firmer cheese, shape the cheese into cubes or balls, and use a raw vegan dehydrator to blow-dry it.