Once you learn how to make rejuvelac for vegan cheesemaking, you won’t go back to the prepackaged cheese! Rejuvelac is the magic ingredient that makes cashew cheese taste like cheese. But it’s not magic—it’s fermentation!
🍶 What is it?
Rejuvelac is a fermented liquid made from sprouted grains. It can be made with many types of grains, but quinoa sprouts the easiest and fastest.
The main reason for making rejuvelac is making vegan cheese! It’s the ingredient that cultures the cheese and gives it the sharp taste that takes it from blended cashews and flavorings to cultured cheese.
If you’re interested in vegan cheesemaking, I’d recommend picking up a copy of Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner. You can read my review of that cookbook and the cheeses I made for my vegan cheese board.
Besides making cheese and other cultured foods, you can drink rejuvelac. It’s not my cup of tea, but people drink it because it contains probiotics.
- Raw quinoa
- A clean glass jar
Rejuvelac is made by sprouting grains or seeds, then fermenting the sprouts over the course of 1-2 days. Different grains yield different results and flavors, but quinoa is the most common kind.
Please note that your rejuvelac may reach each stage faster or slower than mine.
The first step is soaking the dry quinoa in water for 5-10 hours. I usually start this process right before bed so it can soak overnight.
Pour some water over the quinoa, then place a piece of cheesecloth on top and secure it with the metal part of the lid or a rubber band. You don’t have to use filtered water, but you may want to use it if your tap water is heavily treated.
Place the jar in a dark, room temperature location. It’s okay if it’s a little cold, but not if it’s too hot. I usually put it in a kitchen cabinet away from the stove.
The next morning (or later in the day if you started the soak in the morning), you’ll want to drain the water and rinse the quinoa. Then return it to its dark, cool spot.
Make sure the water is drained completely so that the quinoa seeds are moistened. If there is too much water, the quinoa may start to rot instead of sprout.
Rinse and drain the quinoa every 3-8 hours until 1/2 inch sprouts emerge. This usually takes 24-36 hours.
When the sprouts are about 1/2 an inch long, it’s time to add water and start the fermentation process. Not every seed has to have a 1/2 inch sprout, but as long as most do, it’s ready to go.
Add about 2 cups of water to the jar. Don’t fill it up completely because the water level will rise as the rejuvelac ferments.
Place a piece of cheesecloth on top (maybe a new piece if the old one is getting messy), secure it, and return it to its spot.
About 24 hours later, you’ll see some changes. The water will be fizzy, there will be a layer of bubbles on top, and the liquid will start to change color and develop a lemony smell.
What we’re looking for is a sharp, lemony, fermented smell and taste. If it still smells like dry quinoa and slightly lemony (as mine did at this stage) it needs more time. Give it a stir 1-2 time a day and leave it alone for a little while longer.
By this day, the rejuvelac should be extra fizzy, have a thick layer of bubbles on the surface, and be yellow in color. The “dry quinoa” smell and taste should be gone, replaced by a strong fermented, lemony taste. If you’ve reached this stage, your rejuvelac is ready.
You’ll want to strain out the quinoa sprouts, pour the liquid into a clean, airtight jar and store it in the fridge. At this point, it’s ready to use in a recipe.
The rejuvelac will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks. Around the 2 week mark, do the sniff test before using. If something smells “off”, it probably is.
Store in a dark place at room temperature
Heat is the number one enemy of rejuvelac. Too much heat and humidity in that jar of sprouts will make it grow some nasties. A good place to store it is a kitchen cabinet away from the oven and refrigerator.
Make sure your quinoa isn’t precooked or toasted
Precooked quinoa will never sprout. Make sure you have plain, raw quinoa. Unfortunately, some brands may not mention this on the package. I’ve had good luck with the Goya and Aldi brand quinoas.
Wait until the tails are 1/2 inch long
If the quinoa isn’t fully sprouted, the rejuvelac won’t have enough “juice” to start fermenting properly.
It may take a few tries to get the hang of making rejuvelac, and recognizing the steps. Here are some common issues to avoid.
The grains won’t sprout
Make sure the quinoa you’re using wasn’t precooked or pretreated in some way. Only raw quinoa will sprout.
Also make sure it’s not an old container of quinoa. The quinoa may also just be a dud (or the company precooked it in some way and didn’t label it). Try a different brand.
Are you rinsing your quinoa enough? The seeds may dry out quicker if you’re in a dry environment and/or not rinsing them enough.
The sprouts smell gross
The sprouts should not have a strong smell. They should smell vegetal, not funky.
Bad smells can happen if there’s too much water in the jar. The sprouts will get waterlogged and rot.
The other explanation is the room temperature. If it’s too hot and humid, the sprouts will start to go bad. In the summer, I like to put the jar in a closet, away from sunlight and the ambient heat in the kitchen.
The rejuvelac smells gross
This likely has more to do with the sprouts than the rejuvelac itself. Either your sprouts started to rot (see the tips above to prevent this), or they weren’t fully sprouted.
If they weren’t fully sprouted, they either needed more time, or there was something wrong with the quinoa that prevented it from sprouting. If this is the case, the quinoa seeds may start to turn brown or black after a couple of days sitting in water.
The rejuvelac isn’t fizzy/fermenting
If your sprouts were fully developed and didn’t have a weird smell, it may just need more time. Stir it 1-2 times a day to encourage fermentation.
Otherwise, the problem may have been the sprouts. If they took more than 1-2 days to sprout, it’s possible they started sprouting AND rotting.
Rejuvelac with Quinoa
- 1/2 cup quinoa see note
- 2-3 cups water
Soaking and starting to sprout (day 1-2):
- Pour the quinoa in a 4 quart glass jar and add water to cover.
- Cover with cheesecloth or thin fabric and secure with a rubber band or metal part of lid (do not cover with lid), and place the jar in a cool dark place, such as a kitchen cabinet.
- Let soak 5-10 hours, then drain the water.
- Rinse the quinoa and drain the water completely, then return to the cool dark place.
- Repeat the rinsing and draining step every 3-8 hours.
Sprouting (day 2-3):
- Continue rinsing and draining the quinoa every 3-8 hours as the quinoa sprouts.
Fermenting (day 3-5):
- When the sprouts reach are about 1/2 inch long, add 2 cups of water to the jar, and return to its spot.
- Check on the rejuvelac daily, giving the mixture a stir to encourage fermentation.
- When the rejuvelac has a lemony, fermented smell, strain out the sprouts and transfer the liquid to a clean jar.
- Store the jar of rejuvelac in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, and use as directed in recipes like cultured vegan cheese.
- Make sure you use raw quinoa (not toasted or precooked) because only raw quinoa will sprout.
- The time it takes for your quinoa to sprout and for the rejuvelac to ferment will depend on a variety of factors like room temperature, water temperature, and the quinoa you're using. The warmer it is, the faster the process will be.
- Rinse your quinoa more often if it's warm in your house, such as in the summer. The sprouts will go "bad" faster.
- The sprouts shouldn't have a strong smell. If they smell rotten, they are no good.