Cashew Yoghurt

cashew yoghurt

Having been a vegetarian for his entire life, dairy products played a central role in the hubby’s diet. His favorite ones used to be milk (until he became acquainted with homemade almond milk) and still are yoghurt and curd cheese which he eats every day. Now that he wants to reduce dairy or probably even cut it out completely, we need a substitute for those – and for yoghurt in particular. In other words, unless we find an appropriate plant-based alternative to cow’s milk yoghurt, veganization for the hubby will be very difficult, and since we do not want to rely on soy products, some magic had to take place in our own kitchen.

cauldronsmileyf

Regarding myself, I loved yoghurt as a child and almost lived on it. When I learned that my year-long, severe and untreatable joint pain I had back then came from consuming dairy, I had to give up all dairy products overnight. Yoghurt was the hardest for me to say goodbye to, much more than ice cream or chocolate. I cheated a couple of times and the pain came back immediately, so in the end I preferred to be able to run and climb stairs again without pain, but I still missed yoghurt terribly. Homemade nut milk yoghurt would probably manage to end that state of lacking something.

desertsmile

During the past two weeks, I have tried my luck with it. Making non-dairy yoghurt turned out to be quite a challenge, because there are demands to both taste and texture.

cashew yoghurt

A while ago, my mom started to make her own yoghurt with organic milk, and during one of my stays with my parents, I used her probiotic powder together with almond milk to make almond yoghurt. When I opened the container after a night of fermentation, it smelled like yoghurt, but it was completely fluid and only suitable for drinking.

The challenge with nut-based or seed-based milks is that they do not thicken during fermentation as cow’s milk does, so you need to add a thickener to it. I have tried carob gum and guar gum and found both to work well. Other options I have read about are agar agar and ground chia, but I have not tried those so far.

Carob gum and guar gum are derived from the seeds of carob or guar trees by dehusking and milling them. I have researched the internet on probable health concerns with those gums and found that you should not overdose them and consume them with sufficient fluid, but since you do not need more than a few grams of these substances to thicken a whole batch of yoghurt, you will not consume them in large amounts when eating this yoghurt, so they should be safe. However, because some products are polluted with toxins, it is a good idea to buy organic quality.

guar gum and carob gum

~ guar gum and carob gum ~

For the fermentation, you need a yoghurt starter. I ordered probiotics on the internet (the kind that is used for homemade dairy yoghurt as well) which come in powdered form. You only need a pinch of those, so you can make a lot of yoghurt with them. As soon as you have made your first yoghurt, you can save a spoonful of it and use that as a starter for the next batch of yoghurt, or you can start with probiotic dairy or soy yoghurt (if you eat those) from the store.

probiotics

~ “we like to reside in the fridge after opening” ~

Equipped with probiotics and thickening agent, the only ingredient that misses is the nuts or seeds you want as the basis of your yoghurt. I opted for cashews because they blend so well and with little leftover pulp. Also, they contain a rather high amount of carbohydrates which bacteria are fond of. You can use other kinds of nuts and seeds or a mix, but then you probably have to add a spoonful of sugar, honey, or agave to feed the bacteria.

soaking cashews

You do not need a yoghurt maker for making your own yoghurt, but if you have some, it is a little easier because it spares you the careful heating and temperature measuring. I have a non-electric yoghurt maker that works very well and did not cost a lot of money.

yoghurt maker

~ yoghurt maker sitting on the bottom kitchen shelf ~

Then, the process of making your own nut or seed yoghurt is very easy, and the result is tasty and very rich and creamy. Since the yoghurt needs 10 or 12 hours to ferment, you may want to start making it in the evening so you have fresh yoghurt for your next breakfast. The recipe below makes quite a lot yoghurt, and if you want to start with less, just cut the ingredients by half.

cashew yoghurt

CASHEW YOGHURT

hungry 1 liter (4 cups) – vegan / raw

Ingredients

  • 130 g (3/4 cup) cashews (or more, for a richer yoghurt), soaked in water for at least one hour
  • water
  • 1 pinch of probiotic powder
  • 1-2 tsp guar gum

Options

  • flavor options: add vanilla, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, or other spices of choice
  • sweetening options: add pitted dates, stevia, agave, honey, or sugar
  • protein options: add a spoonful of protein powder (this will also make the yoghurt thicker so you need less thickening agent)

Directions

Put the soaked cashews with a little water into the blender – just enough to cover them and let your blender do its work. Blend until you receive a thick, smooth cream.

yoghurt preparation

(If you want to flavor, sweeten, or enrich the yoghurt with protein powder, blend the respective ingredients in now. Otherwise proceed as below.)

Add water up to the 1 liter (4 cups) mark of the blender container and blend some more to make cashew milk. Transfer the milk without filtering to a bowl and stir in the probiotics. Whisk well to make sure they evenly disperse.

yoghurt preparation

The fermentation procedure depends on the equipment you have.

  • If you do not have a yoghurt maker, warm the cashew milk on the stovetop until the temperature is about 36 to 40 °C (87 to 104 °F), then pour it into a bowl, cover, and let ferment in a warm place for 10 to 12 hours.
  • If you have an electric yoghurt maker, pour the cashew milk into the container without heating, turn on the yoghurt maker according to the instruction manual and let ferment for 10 to 12 hours.
  • If you have a non-electric yoghurt maker, pour the cashew milk into the yoghurt container without heating. Bring some water to boil and put it into the thermic container, then place the yoghurt container above it, put the lid on, and let ferment for 10 to 12 hours.

After the fermentation, you will find that the cashew milk looks a little disintegrated, but it should already smell nicely like yoghurt. Blend in the thickening agent – do not overdo it as the yoghurt will continue thickening in the fridge. Store the yoghurt in an air-tight container and keep refridgerated. It will remain fresh for a couple of days and can be used like regular yoghurt.

cashew yoghurt

Have you made non-dairy yoghurt yourself? If yes, what are your experiences? What nuts or seeds do you use?

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26 Comments

Filed under All Recipes, Nut Milks and Nut Butters

26 responses to “Cashew Yoghurt

  1. Gel

    I’m sure if you wanted another career you could author a book on healthy eating with recipes. Or you could become a teacher of cooking. Your instructions and photos with your recipes are beautifully done. I think teaching about fermentation one of the hardest to do because the live-food aspect is not easy to describe. There are many subtle nuances having to do with temperature, humidity, variety of fermentation culture etc, that are hard to articulate when it comes to creating a repeatable ‘recipe’ for fermentation. So BRAVO for what you have shared here!!!

    I have not made a non-dairy yogurt but
    I have made non-dairy “seed cheese” using ground sunflower seeds. It was very simple. You just grind the seeds in a blender with enough water to make a thick consistency. You put it in a glass jar with a loose fitting lid and put it in a warmish place for a number of hours. It gets fermented with the “wild” microorganism in the air. You don’t have to add anything else. It has a mild tangy “cheesy” taste. The texture is not as smooth as cheese but it’s still pleasant.

    Thanks for sharing your kitchen magic with us!

    • Thank you so much, Gel! Well probably I’ll make something of all of this … I have to be a little careful not to get lost in too many interests, though, but probably there’s a way of tying them all together? :)

      I’ve been learning a lot more about plant-based nutrition, and more and more I come to believe that when I first became acquainted with the paleo idea it tracked me down the wrong path, and probably that was possible only because that was at a time of my life when I was sick and felt very bad. It helped me, but I never felt good about it for ethical and sustainability reasons. By now, I also think that the nutritional arguments behind it are totally flawed. I’ll write a post about that soon – not to bash paleo but to just tell my experiences on the plant-based whole food diet I’m doing. I now believe that I would have recovered equally well or even better on a diet of cooked potatoes and vegetables than the paleo diet, and looking back it makes me sad how much harm I’ve inflicted during the 2 years when I ate a lot of chicken and fish, especially since I now think it wasn’t necessary.

      Sorry for telling you this so bluntly, I hope you are not offended by it! But what I learn convinces me, and how I feel shows me that I am right – for example, that I don’t have *any* problems with satiety now on a starch-based diet (!), although I used to have such heavy blood sugar swings. I feel more energized and feel better overall, I have a sense of inner peace, my irritable bowel is quiet, and my constipation went away. So that’s something I hadn’t expected, and that even without doing harm and on a very low budget. I’m sharing this with you because I know you’re in a similar situation I was in, and probably you are open to it and find it helpful to hear another perspective.

      • Gel

        I’m glad you have such enthusiasm for your healing journey. And that you continue to find what works for you and your body (and heart and soul).

        I do appreciate hearing different perspectives on this and other topics. I wish I had more time to research more broadly. I’m not offended by you sharing your ideas. I am surprised that you feel “the paleo idea it tracked me down the wrong path”…because it seemed like it did serve you well for a while. But one thing I’ve noticed for sure is that we keep changing.

        Right now I’m so happy to have been able to broaden my food options and feel I’m on the right track – for me – and that does include animal foods as well as a range of other foods. I’m sure it will keep evolving, and I don’t know where it will take me. It’s a unique time in history that we have so many options and so much information. For most of human history people didn’t have the option to eat according to a philosophy or according to scientific knowledge or to choose from foods from all over the world like we do now.

        I’m just really happy for you that you are finding so much health and inner peace with food and I hope our differences don’t interfere with our fondness for each other.

        • Oh. please don’t be worried! I’m not at all wanting to become dogmatic about how to eat! You’re very right that the paleo diet has helped me *a lot* to get better! What I wanted to say is that I believe it was because it excludes dairy and gluten which I consider the major culprits for my health problems back then. I *used to* believe that also the carb-reduction played a role in that, because I had so many problems with blood sugar swings, constant hunger, and inner tension. And although those improved a lot, they never really went away. Eventually I didn’t find my animal protein and veggie meals satisfying at al anymore, and I used to wake up way too early feeling nauseous and irritated. Fatigue was a great problem for me as well. When I switched to a plant-based diet, this got again better, but it was still there as long as I focused on eating non-starchy vegetables, legumes, and fats. A couple of days ago, I was so annoyed and helpless that I did the only thing I hadn’t tried – and started eating a lot of starchy foods again (brown rice, gluten-free oats, potatoes, plus the veggies I had an appetite for). This diet is high in starches and fibers and low in fat and protein (although it provides enough of the latter), and I feel better than in all those years before: satisfied, energized, and happy with what I eat because I really enjoy the food. So that’s what I meant when I said that I think I’d have been able to recover on potatoes and veggies as well (and probably better), compared to meat / fish plus fats and veggies. Sorry to confuse you!

  2. This was fascinating. I have never made yoghurt but I used to make milk kefir which is very similar all the time. Now I stay focused on the probiotic drinks. The problem that I’ve had with all of them is keeping up with it. It’s hard for me to use up all of the product and then make more. I do love cashew and almond milk.

  3. Awesome. Just awesome. I’m almost dairy-free these days after finding that my love of Greek yogurt was leading to an upset stomach and digestion probs, but I haven’t been able to let go entirely… I’m completely intimidated by the process of making my own yogurt (and my blender is nowhere NEAR as good as yours—lookin’ good, VitaMix!), but I’ll bookmark this and build up my confidence. :) Does it taste cashew-y?

    • Steph! :D :D :D

      I’m happy to hear that you’ve found out dairy was causing your troubles! And I can only encourage you to make nut yoghurt because it’s very rich and creamy, mostly like Greek yoghurt (I imagine at least – fact is I’ve never eaten Greek yoghurt because I’ve been dairy-free for so many years, and the Greek yoghurt craze is just swapping over to here – but I hear people saying it was so rich and creamy). It’s also very easy to make! My parents were so kind to send my a VitaMix (and I love it!!!), but a normal blender should work as well. Just process the soaked nuts with little water to keep the stuff close to the blades, and probably mix some more. Cashews blend up very well anyway (they leave almost no pulp, unlike almonds).

      I must admit it doesn’t taste too cashew-y – the yoghurt taste is certainly the dominant one.

  4. Brilliant, thank you for sharing? Would you mind discussing why you do not like to cook with fats any longer?

    • Thank you! No, I don’t mind explaining not using oils anymore. There are several reasons for this. One is that I want to get the majority of my calories from whole (complete) foods. Oils are refined foods, because during oil extraction all the healthy fibers and micronutrients are removed. So I rather use whole nuts and seeds that still contain all of these (like in the current recipe). Another reason is that I’ve never liked oily foods. I’ve tried around a lot with different ratios of macronutrients in the past years, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I feel the best when the myjority of calories comes from carbohydrates from whole (gluten-free) grains and starchy vegetables instead of protein and fat (I must admit I was hesitant to try this because I had so many problems with blood sugar swings in the past, but this kind of eating is really satisfying and pleasant for me). Before, I was a bit of a carb-phobic and ate a higher fat diet, but often suffered from “nervous hunger” (the feeling that something’s missing although you’ve eaten enough). This doesn’t apply to my hubby though, who wants for more protein (from legumes) and fats, but he also eats a lot of complex carbs. Yet another reason is that due to my ED background, oily foods are triggering for me, so it’s easier for me to just stay away from them. I’m careful to get enough essential fatty acids, but since you don’t really need a lot of those, it’s easy to get them from a spoonful of ground flax and the fats contained in other nuts and seeds as well as whole grains like oats. I’ll write more about this in one of my next posts. :)

  5. I had no idea this could be done! That’s pretty awesome that you were able to figure it out on your own.

    • Thank you, Julie! In fact, I didn’t figure it out myself completely but searched the internet for inspiration. All those recipes out there differ a little, so I just tried around until it worked well. :)

  6. How fantastic that you have found a yoghurt alternative – I too love yoghurt but haven’t really looked into vegan ones in the stores or in recipes – actually I have tried to taste one but it is never in the health food store when I go to buy it – maybe one day I will venture into this territory so your thoughts on it are quite useful

    • I’m happy tp hear that! I’ve never tried a vegan yoghurt from the store as those are usually refined. I rather wanted for somethign really basic, and this meant I had to do it myself.

  7. Have you tried coconut yoghurt? That is pretty delicious in my opinion as well (although I shall admit I haven’t tried making it from scratch yet).

    • I haven’t tried coconut yoghurt yet, but I’ve read it’s easy to make. Probably I’ll try it, but you know I’m not the biggest fan of coconut. :P

  8. I had no idea you could make cashew yoghurt, and I would love to try it too. I agree with Gel, there is definitely a book in here. Kath’s ‘My Funny Little Life’ cookbook :)
    xxx

    • Haha, thank you! I probably should copy the recipes from my blog into a document and send it around. :) Would you be interested in that?

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  10. I just discovered this thanks to Johanna (GGG) pointing me to this post. I’m thrilled to have another non-dairy yoghurt recipe to try – I have had some dismal failures! – so thanks for sharing what ended up working for you. I’m looking forward to trying this :)

    • Hi Kari, thank you for your comment! It makes me happy to hear that you liked the recipe! Have you already tried it? I’d love to hear if it has worked out for you as well! I’ve also made almond yoghurt by now and it worked very well, hoewever I’ve added a spoonful of brown sugar before putting the almond milk to culture, because almonds are so low in carbohydrates and the bacteria want for something to nibble on. :)

      • Thanks Kath – I still need to seek out probiotic powder, but will definitely let you know how I get on once I’ve tried it :) Great to hear about the almond alternative too, I think I’d love that option as well!

        • Oh, that sounds great, Kari! I’m sorry I haven’t visited you back yet, but I think I’ll have time for that later today. Looking forward to it! :)

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  12. Marjolein

    Looking for a somewhat easy to start with nutyoghurt recipe, I found this one! I made it yesterday afternoon, about 24 hours ago. Didnt want to buy any equipment immediately, so I took my camping coolerbag (still around from camping last week :D), put an old blanket in it and carefully placed my two bottles with cashewliquid in them. Of course I had to peak a few times during the last 24 hours, and ofcourse my boyfriend also had to peak… He is a dairy freak and Im hoping he likes the result. (this morning I made him use the home made almondmilk in his porrigde, grin. He is brave and actually was surprised about the taste (in a positive way)).
    Back to the yoghurt; The warmth didnt stay in the coolerbag as much as I wanted, so this morning, as a caring mother, I gave them a nice warm waterbag under their feet.
    And now, it looks like its working!! It smells quite sour, I think I started with too much probiotic, so we have a lot of little guys in there now, but its a good smell. The water has separated from the real yoghurt.
    I think you can drain it with a cloth for a thick version without thickener, but that way you are left with almost all the water you put in, and what to do with that? Or is it some kind of rejuvilac(?) then? Same bacteria…
    I try thickening a bit of it with flaxseed, but I think I need too much of that to really thicken it all, that way it will be more of a flaxyoghurt. Think Im going for a run to the healthstore to get some carob gum at last!
    The strawberries are patiently waiting to dive in the end result :) (and me too!)

    What I wanted to say; thanks for the recipe!

    • Hi Marjolein, thank you so much for trying out my recipe and telling me, that’s awesome! I’m very happy it worked so well! I’ve also made it with almonds by now and like that even a little better, however with cashews there’s some more creaminess. You may consider adding a spoonful of brown sugar, agave, honey, or another sugar, because bacteria like nibbling on that and it also makes the yoghurt a little sweeter (cow’s milk yoghurt has a bit of inherent sweetness). It’s not necessary if you make cashew yoghurt because cashews already come with carbohydrates, but when using other nuts I’d recommend it.

      My husband has been a vegetarian for all his life (he’s allergic against meat, fish, and eggs, and actually also against dairy but not so much), and he’s always eaten a lot of dairy products. He used to drink a liter or two of milk every day and thought he could never give it up! But replacing cow’s milk with homemade almond milk was very easy for him, and he likes the almond milk much better taste-wise and also finds cow’s milk really slimy and strangely sweet now, plus he feels stuffed and weighed down after having it. Cheese wasn’t a problem for him to give up, but yoghurt and curd cheese are quite the challenge. We still have those in the frigde, but are working on gradually replacing them with plant-based alternatives. He’d like to give them up entirely, but it’s okay to have a transition phase, and if he stayed vegetarian and didn’t become a vegan I wouldn’t have any problem with that. I think the more plant-based you eat the better it is for your health, the animals, and the environment, but reducing is also a good thing already. :) Anyway, I’ll continue working on dairy alternatives! ;)

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