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!)
HERES 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.
- Glass or ceramic bowl- I prefer to use a Kilner jar with an airtight lid that can be off gased .
- 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
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 remaining salt and 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. Shutting off air to the jar reduces invading pathogens like yeast or mould, which commonly spoil ferments. Having said that you can absolutely ferment with a cheesecloth covering the ferment, too, and if you do use an airtight jar ensure it either has a airlock or you burp it 2 x day. I recommend reading this here for a more in depth explanation.
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, 3 Tbsp 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/kimchi brine though.
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:
- Your bottle has not been opened for many months, as this may mean the bacteria are less viable
- That you are using unpasteurised ACV with ‘the mother’.
- 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.
- You give your ferment extra time. I find 12-24 hours is enough when using sauerkraut brine however many readers have needed 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.
Update. I did a comparison between fermenting with sauerkraut brine and apple cider vinegar. I fermented 2 jars at the same time, using the same amount of starter. Here is what I found;
- The sauerkraut brine took 48 hours to ferment. There were a-lot of bubbles and rise, the taste was sour, cheesy and delicious.
- The apple cider vinegar took 1 week to achieve the same results. While there were only a few bubbles and little rise after 1 week of fermenting I was able to achieve the same flavour. I used an olive oil seal for this process to prevent any unwanted bacteria or mould entering the ferment.
See the recipe below for the full steps.
SOME OTHER RECIPES TO TRY
- Sprouted beetroot hummus
- Vegan pasta bake. Spinach and feta shells (using this fermented cashew cheese!)
- North Indian rajma masala
- Creamy vegan tomato basil soup with croutons
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.Print
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.
- 3 cups raw, cashews
- 1.5 tsp good quality salt, divided
- 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).
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup filtered water (or spring water) for blending (see notes)
- Optional- lemon juice, nutritional yeast and finely chopped fresh herbs to flavour.
- Soak your cashews in filtered water and 1 tsp salt for 4-12 hours
- Drain and rinse the nuts and add into your blender with the remaining salt and Sauerkraut brine and water
- Blend until completely smooth- this can take quite a while and you should ensure your mixture doesn’t get 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.
- 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 simply cover with a cheesecloth. Both the starter culture and salt will help to prevent putrifying microbes from entering, so this should be enough. NOTE: In the past I recommended using olive as an airlock. After a few readers suggested this could be unsafe (in that it has a tiny potential to allow bacteria to grow) I no longer recommend this method- I need to do more research on the subject here.
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.
- 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.
- 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 you’re adding in optional flavours, do so now by simple stirring them through the creamy paste.
- Store in a dark glass jar in the fridge for up to 3 months.
*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.