Kind Cultures crafts cruelty-free cheeses
If you are the type of person to say “Yes, please” to a piece of cheese, then ASHLEY JOHN has an option for you. And it is not just any type of cheese. If you are on the hunt for cruelty-free, cultured, and sustainable cheese in particular, look no further than Kind Cultures.
John, owner of Kind Cultures, is in the business of making her very own vegan cheese.
“I wasn’t fully satisfied with the vegan cheese alternatives on the market,” she says. After her family went vegan in 2017, she “started experimenting with making sour cashew cream from my home kitchen,” John says. “My husband and kids loved it, and we always joked about me turning it into a business.” That day has now arrived.
After finding success with her sour cashew cream recipe, she then started experimenting with making aged cashew Brie wheels in a wine fridge she received as a present.
“I love learning to create different flavors and textures by using a combination of cultures and aging methods,” she says. “Friends and family kept requesting spicy pimento spread, which is now our bestseller.”
Her current selection includes flavors ranging from a hickory-smoked cheddar to a dill spread. Her company recommends what to use each product in or on such as almond stuffed dates or sweet potato rounds. She also produces specials on occasion such as cheese balls and cheesecakes.
John, a self-proclaimed cow lover, was not always in the cheese business. She worked as a nurse for several years and that previous experience is now paying off.
“My background has been invaluable in informing our fermentation and sanitation processes,” she says. John admits to enjoying the science of cheesemaking. Growing up in Florida, she relocated to Wilmington for her husband’s job. The now stay-at-home mom of two boys has recruited another family member into the business, her husband.
Justin John has helped grow Kind Cultures from the ground up and manages everything from taxes to label making. “My husband is my number one supporter and is always encouraging me,” she says.
“Everyone deserves good cheese” is her admitted motto and something she says, “you’ll hear us say a lot.”
John’s number one goal is to continue to grow her business. Right now, she works in a small, shared commissary/commercial space. She cannot produce her products out of her home kitchen anymore. One day she envisions her own “cheese factory”.
“I would like a large production space with aging caves,” she says. She says she doesn’t require too much—”No special equipment really. Blenders and mixers and a lot of love.”
She also hopes to grow a team of people with the same interests and skills and continuing to support animal activism charities.
John’s products can be found in local markets such as Tidal Creek Co-Op and Bodega, as well as the Wilmington Farmers Market.
“We feel so lucky to be living in a town like Wilmington that supports local producers,” she says.
To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.
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