Easy fermented cashew cheese

Homemade easy fermented cashew cheese- I know it can sound intimidating to tackle your own fermented foods, and while some are definitely harder then others (I’ve stuffed up my fair share of Kimchi and sauerkraut in my time!) this cashew cheese is so easy to make, you can even skip the fermentation if you’re in a hurry and just want a cashew cream to add to your dish, but if you’ve got the time we’d highly recommend waiting out that extra time for the fermentation (and your gut will be thanking you too!)

Fermented cashew cheeseHERES WHAT YOULL NEED FOR OUR EASY FERMENTED CASHEW CHEESE

  • Raw, organic (if possible) cashews.
  • Sauerkraut brine (my preferred choice), homemade kombucha (or probiotic capsules), brine of any unpasteurised cultured vegetables (for example kimchi) or apple cider vinegar with the mother (last option)
  •  Filtered/spring water.
  • Optional- lemon juice, nutritional yeast and finely chopped fresh herbs to flavour.
  • Blender.
  • Spatular.
  • Glass or ceramic bowl- I prefer to use a Kilner jar with an airtight lid
  • A glass jar for storage.

A FEW WORDS ON FERMENTED FOODS

The science of gut health is a long and complicated one, different for each individual, and most definitely something that deserves a whole post in its self, but why fermented foods benefit our gut health is something I wanted to briefly touch on.

Fermented foods are not the cool new kid on the block, don’t get me wrong, they are very popular (and with good reason!), but fermentation goes back 1000’s of years (6000 B.C being the earliest record). Fermentation was originally used as a method of preservation long before refrigeration, but of course as we know today the benefits of fermentation go well beyond preservation. Fermentation is the process in which organisms convert sugars or starch into alcohol or acid. This transformation enhances the natural beneficial bacteria (the ‘good’ bacteria, which are not probiotics, but are gut friendly) which helps a range of issues, specifically digestive health.

WHY IS GOOD BACTERIA IMPORTANT?

So now we know that fermented foods enhance the ‘good bacteria’, but what do they do? Bacteria in our gut assists with digestion, absorption of nutrients and immune health. Our gut naturally has both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria, and achieving the right balance between the two can be a tricky task (a healthy balance is known as equilibrium). When the balance is out and is tipped towards the ‘bad’ bacteria we can see a range of symptoms including bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, heart burn, unintentional weight changes, sleep issues, skin irritation, food intolerances, autoimmune conditions and even effects on our mental health.

SOME OTHER WAYS TO LOOK AFTER YOUR GUT HEALTH

Diet and lifestyle play a massive role in effecting our gut micro biome (the ‘good and ‘bad’ bacteria). Eliminating as much refined sugar from your diet as possible and including probiotic rich foods help to keep a healthy balance. Here are some other great source of bacteria rich foods

  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso
  • Kimchi
  • Lassi
  • Kombucha
  • Tempeh
  • Yoghurt

BACK TO OUR EASY FERMENTED CASHEW CHEESE. HERES HOW ITS DONE

  • SOAK your cashews in water with salt for 4 hours. Drain and rinse.
  • BLEND your cashews with sauerkraut brine.
  • POUR your mixture into a glass or ceramic jar with a lid- if you can, a jar with an airtight lid is best. I recommend Kilner jars. Find a warm spot out of direct sunlight. This will change depending on the time of the year- the ideal temperature is around 24C.
  • TASTE your cheese to see if you’d like to leave it to ferment for longer.
  • ADD in optional flavouring.
  • STORE in a glass jar, in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Frequently asked questions

1. Why do you use an airtight jar? I’ve seen other people cover their ferment with a cloth?

I used to do this too! After studying how to perfect my ferments I realised that fermenting food is an anaerobic process- meaning it requires no oxygen. As long as we use a large enough jar that allows room for the ferment to grow, an airtight jar is best. Shutting off air to the jar reduces invading pathogens like yeast or mould, which commonly spoil ferments.

2. Can I use other nuts?

Yes! I always use cashews, but macadamia or sunflower seeds would be a great choice.

3. What else can I use besides sauerkraut brine?

You can use anything with a good amount of bacteria. Brine from any homemade or unpasteurised fermented/cultured vegetables or kimchi, 1/4 cup homemade kombucha starter, homemade or unpasteurised kefir (this is a great brand here), unpasteurised apple cider vinegar or a few probiotics capsules cracked open. I prefer and recommend unpasteurised sauerkraut brine though.

Fermented cheese with sauerkraut brine
This batch of fermented cheese was made with sauerkraut brine, see below for the comparison to apple cider vinegar (you’ll see it has much less bubbles for etc same time fermenting, but it is slowly fermenting). 
Made with apple cider vinegar
This batch was made using unpasteurised apple cider vinegar. There are much less bubbles than the example above, but fermentation is still occurring.
From above you will see cracking as teh ferment expands. The top ferment is using sauerkraut brine, the bottom ACV

4. Where is the best place to ferment?

This changes depending on the time of the year. You need to ensure that the ferment is both warm and out of direct sunlight.

During summer it’s generally pretty easy to achieve this- in the pantry is an ideal spot for me. During Winter I usually ferment in my oven with only the light on. Having the jar sit next to the light works perfectly for us- you just need to remember the jar is in there before you turn on the oven. I always leave a sticky note on the oven door!

An update on using apple cider vinegar as the starter culture

I have successfully used this brand of apple cider vinegar (ACV) many times to ferment the cashews, but after a few reader reviews using apple cider vinegar I need to note that not everyone has been as successful.

To get the best results using ACV ensure that:

  1. Your bottle has not been opened for many months, as this may mean the bacteria are less viable
  2. That you are using unpasteurised ACV with ‘the mother’.
  3. Before adding the vinegar to your ferment gently roll the bottle to spread the sediment at the bottom and ensure you get some of the mother into your ferment.
  4. You give your ferment extra time. I find 12-24 hours is enough when using sauerkraut brine however many readers have needed 48-72 hours before seeing their ferment start to work. So long as you are using an airtight jar OR using the olive oil layer this is totally ok.

See the recipe below for the full steps.

SOME OTHER RECIPES TO TRY

We hope you like our easy fermented cashew cheese as much as we do! We love hearing your feedback, so if you try this recipe please leave a review or a comment at the bottom of the page. Have a great day.

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Fermented cashew cheese

Homemade easy fermented cashew cheese

  • Author: Jade Woodd
  • Prep Time: 4 hours (soaking time) 15 minutes prep time
  • Cook Time: 12-36 hours (48 max) fermenting time
  • Total Time: 59 minute
  • Category: Fermented foods. Spreads.
  • Method: Fermented
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Homemade fermented cashew cheese. 2 ingredients (because water and salt don’t count, right?), quick to throw together (if you don’t count soaking/fermenting time), gluten and grain free, refined sugar free and gut friendly.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 cups raw, cashews
  • 1 tsp good quality salt
  • 2 Tbsp unpasteurised sauerkraut brine OR homemade kombucha starter OR unpasteurised apple cider vinegar (ACV), with ‘the mother (please see blog notes if using ACV).
  • 1/31/2 cup filtered water (or spring water) for blending (see notes)
  • Optional- lemon juice, nutritional yeast and finely chopped fresh herbs to flavour.

Instructions

  1. Soak your cashews in filtered water and the salt for 4-12 hours
  2. Drain and rinse the nuts and add into your blender with the Sauerkraut brine and water
  3. Blend until completely smooth- this can take quite a while and you should ensure your mixture doesn’t get too hot, you might need to blend in 1 minute increments. Take the time to make sure its super smooth and don’t be afraid to use your tamper to get things going.
  4. Put the blended mixture into a clean glass or ceramic jar. Take time to do this, ideally creating a clean layer of cashew mixture. Clean off any mixture that sits on the rim or sides of the jar (to prevent mould growing). Screw the lid on tightly. If you don’t have a jar with a lid, or an airtight lid, you can add a layer of olive oil over the top of the cashew mixture. Ensure the cashew mix is completely covered in oil. This will create a seal between your ferment and air pathogens like yeast or mould.
    Note: You don’t need to sterilise your jar- though you’ll never regret doing so. I use a Kilner jar, and simply wash under hot water using my hand (allowing to air dry).  Make sure you leave enough room at the top of the jar (at least 5 cm/2 inch) for the cheese to grow. As it ferments, lots of bubble will form and the cheese will expand upwards.
  5. Leave your mixture to ferment in a warm spot (out of direct sunlight) for 12-36 hours. Fermentation time will vary depending on the weather (the warmer the quicker), as well as what you want your finished product to be like. The longer the fermenting process, the sourer your cheese will be. The ideal temperature to ferment is around 24C- so if you are fermenting in winter it can take considerably longer! Try to create a warm spot- see blog post for what I do.
  6. You will know your cheese is ready when its nice and aerated, use a clean spoon to taste your cheese to see if you want a stronger ferment. You may find the top of the cheese has formed a skin- don’t worry, its perfectly fine (if using olive oil this won’t happen) . Just stir it in.  If you’re adding in optional flavours, do so now by simple stirring them through the creamy paste.
  7. Store in a dark glass jar in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Notes

*If you don’t have access to sauerkraut brine, you can use other fermented starters. The flavour will vary, but it will still work- any brine from unpasteurised fermented vegetables will work, or kombucha starter work well or various probiotics (from a capsule or powder form). Kulturedwellness also have great starters- you could use their kefir in place of the water in step 3.  In fact, you can ferment the cashews without any starter at all, but the result is much less reliable.

37 Comments
    1. Thanks so much lovely- its very new, and i am definitely still learning… but loving it xx

  1. Thanks for this recipe! The first time I tried it, it didn’t ferment. Second attempt I let it sit longer and I was so excited to see the aeration when I looked at it this morning! I think it needed longer because of the cold weather. I mixed in nutritional yeast and some salt. So cheesy, creamy and delicious 🙂 I used my own kombucha to ferment and it’s doubly satisfying to know all the elements were made by me.

    1. Hi Michelle:) Yes, the weather will definitely make it a longer process. During winter, i sit mine in the oven with only the light on, which helps to speed it up, but its really not necessary. You can just leave it for longer. Adding olive oil on top of the cheese is a great option in winter too, allowing for a longer ferment and protecting the mix from any undesirable bacteria. Sounds like it worked just perfectly though. I use my homemade kombucha too- it feels great to have the whole process made in your pantry, right?

  2. What is “kombucha starter”? The liquid or the scoby? And how much do you need to add? Is it 2 tbsp of ACV plus homemade kombucha starter or homemade/unpasterised sauerkraut juice or one of the three?

    ACV), with ‘the mother’, homemade kombucha starter or homemade/unpasterised sauerkraut juice

    Thank you,

    1. Hello 🙂

      Yes, the staryer is the liquid. You can add 2 Tbsp in total of any of those things- or a mix of all three. I have tried with all of them, and tbey all work- so basically use whichever you have. Personally i like the sauerkraut version best, but regularly use a mix of 1 Tbsp kombucha liquid (unstrained, from homemade brew) plus 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (with the mother).

  3. My ‘cheese’ didn’t seem to be fermenting. Turns out cool and dark can mean very different things depending on where you live! Although I’m sure we all agree on what dark is, ‘cool’ is a bit different. Thanks @panaceaspantry for the help and the suggestions 30 C got it going pretty quickly. I may have over fermented it, but it tastes delicious as a spread on bread.

    1. Hi Vinita. I loved trouble shooting this one with you. I have had difficulty getting it to ferment in the winter too, but the oven light always does the trick. enjoy your beautiful fermented cheese.

  4. Love this recipe. So simple. I used 1 cup of raw cashews and 2 cups of raw almond slices with acv because that’s what I had. I did top with olive oil as my first try without failed. Made it in the vitamix on a Friday night and forgot about it until Monday morning. It was bubbling beautifully when I opened it. I spread it on toast with salt/ pepper and fresh heirloom tomatoes for lunch. Super yummy and creamy. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Marena,

      Thank you so much for your feedback and telling us about the changes you made. I’m excited to try it with almonds now. Yum!

  5. I made this and added dried dill, powdered garlic & onion (fresh is too overpowering for me). I used ACV, homemade kraut juice, and probiotic powder. It turned out so silky and deliciously zingy! Super easy to make and so much cheaper than buying it which I have done for years!

    1. Hi Jacqui,

      Thank you so much for your comment- its so helpful for others to know the changes you made. Glad to help you save some money, and I must try this recipe with the powders next. Yum!

  6. This has become a staple in my house! It’s so easy to whip up, tastes amazing and SO much better than the store bought varieties! Lots of flavour options. Thank you Jade 🙂

    1. Love hearing this. It is such a great base, the flavour choices are absolutely endless. Enjoy xx

  7. Came across this on Instagram and I was instantly curious. Can it really be that easy? Turns out – yes! Super yummy and creamy with just the right amount of tang. Bonus: made it during Lockdown so the kid was invested too. Every morning we’d check to see if it had expanded or for more bubbles. So much fun. Totally making it again. Thanks Jade xx

    1. Paula, I love this for so many reasons but most of all that your child enjoyed the science experiment. So cool!

    1. What a great question! I think that would be possible, yes. If you try it I’d LOVE to know if it worked.

  8. I love your recipes BTW! My kids do as well! I made this cashew cheese last week. I used ACV. The bottle itself has the mother, but I didn’t scoop the mother out to put it with the cheese to ferment.

    I left it out for about 36 hours covered with olive oil, and the lid. I also protected from the sunlight with a tea towel. I didn’t notice much in fermentation so I am wondering if I needed to actually put the mother in with it? OR possibly it just needed longer (it is summer in the US) but my house is somewhat cool. I put it in the refrigerator thinking maybe it was done since I waited longer. Looking at it, I know it didn’t ferment, so could I pull it back out and let it set for a few more days to see what it does? Or should I try to re-purpose this in something else? Or would you recommend I add the mother from the ACV? Thanks again for creating such beautiful and healthy food!

    1. Hi Courtney .

      Yes, you definitely want the mother- that’s where all the good bacteria lives. So long as you have the ferment in an airtight jar, you can leave it a lot longer than 36 hours. If it’s cold in your house I recommend trying to find a warm spot out of sunlight. Give that a go and let me know how it moves along 🙂

  9. I tried it with a kombucha starter, but it has become mouldy in 3 weeks. I was careful to use all clean utensils when handling the cheese. I kept it in a clean glass container, not sure if it was completely airtight though. What should the ideal storage be?

    1. Hi Saa,

      That’s so disappointing for you- if successfully tried it with kombucha many times. Was the starter active? Do you use it regularly?

      The ideal jar is airtight- if you’re not sure I would add the olive oil on top. 3 weeks seems like a very long time. What was the temperature like?

      Next time try to find a warm spot out of direct sunlight, around 24-28C. In the oven with only the light on is a great spot- it only takes 12 hours when you do that.

      Please let me know if you have more questions, so I can troubleshoot with you.

  10. can’t wait to try it, but I’m a bit confused on the third ingredient. Is it 2tbsp ACV plus homemade unpasteurized saurkraut water? and how much sauerkraut water? thx!

    1. Hi Lydia, I’ve just updated the recipe to make it clearer. You just choose one of those things- unpasteurised sauerkraut brine is my fav choice.

  11. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! It is beyond delicious. Life changing in fact. I live on the QLD sunny coast and I use the liquid from raw ‘jungle’ kimchi by Nourishing Wholefoods and it works an absolute treat. Ferments beautifully and it gives the cashew cheese a glorious flavour. I will make this forever and not change a thing, I keep a bag of organic cashews in my pantry now at all times. Thank you so much for this beautiful recipe Jade x

    1. Hi Bree. This is the most beautiful comment- so happy that you love this recipe as much as I do! I need to get my hands on some of that kimchi.

  12. Hi there,
    I tried this out yesterday but had to make an adjustments and am wondering if that might be the reason for the lack of bubbling. I had to add maybe double the water for the 3 cups (whole) cashews I used, otherwise my vitamix wasn’t having it. I used 2 tablespoons ACV (Braggs brand and made sure to include some of the sediment). They’ve been in the oven with the light on since 4pm yesterday and I’m not seeing a lot of action. Hoping you could advice if I just need to be patient or if I botched it by adding too much water.
    Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Ashley,

      The extra water should not have been an issue, it just means your cashew cheese will be a bit runnier.

      I’m wondering if the ACV is old? It might be that it is just not strong enough in bacteria. I have used ACV many times with great success, however some ppl have reported that when using it the ferment is slow- I will update the blog post with this info.

      Sometimes a ferment takes a bit longer, the main thing is to keep your jar airtight- and if you’re unsure if it is put the layer of olive oil on top. It can keep fermenting slowly for many days this way.

      Sometimes ferments take a few days- I would just wait a bit longer 🙂

  13. It finally fermented after about 3-4 days and was a success! The ACV is a bit old, so perhaps that was the reason it took a while. And yes, I did use filtered water 🙂

    Thanks for the advice, making another batch now.

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