Cashew Milk Blends are the Best Dairy Substitutes for Cooking
Cashews milk blends are in my opinion the best dairy substitutes for cooking for several reasons.
- Cashew blends are creamy and have a neutral taste so replacing regular dairy with cashew blends will have little or no impact on the taste and consistency of your traditional recipes.
- It is quick and easy to make cashew milk. Since cashews don’t have skins like most other nuts there is no need to filter the milk through a nut milk bag.
- Cashews are rich in nutrients such as vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
Pick Your Thickness
When I say cashew blends I am referring to cashew cream, cashew half-and-half, and cashew milk. The only difference is the thickness and that is decided by the ratio of water to cashews. As you can see in the image above it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.
To Soak or Not to Soak
Why Soak Cashews
When making cashew milk I usually start by soaking the nuts in filtered water. I recommend soaking the cashews for a couple of reasons:
- Soaking nuts and seeds, in general, is recommended to make them easier to digest and to reduce a substance called phytic acid, or phytates. Phytates protect all plant seeds (nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes) from sprouting too easily. The problem with phytates is that they bind to minerals such as zinc, iron, and calcium making them unavailable for absorption. With soaking more of the nutrients in cashews can be used by the body.
- During soaking the nuts expand slightly and soften. Softer cashews make for a smoother cream or milk, this is especially true if you are not using a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix.
How to Soak Cashews
- Soak cashews by placing 1 cup of raw nuts in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Let cashews soak in room temperature covered, I usually put a plate over the bowl to keep any bugs out. If it is very warm I suggest soaking in the fridge. Soak for 2-4 hours. Be aware that a too long soak produces mushy cashews, so don’t over soak.
- Rinse cashews and proceed to make the cashew milk or cream. You can also soak ahead of time and store the soaked, rinsed cashews in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one day.
Skip the Soak
I don’t always soak the cashews before blending. I usually have a bag of cashews in the freezer and can have cashew cream ready in minutes. With a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix, I don’t notice much of a difference with regards to smoothness when skipping the soak. However, if I know I will need cashew milk or cream for a recipe ahead of time, I usually soak for 2-4 hours while starting to prep other ingredients or getting some other work done.
Also, if your digestion is sensitive it’s likely a good idea to soak your cashews. This is also true if you eat a mainly plant-based diet to avoid mineral deficiencies.
If you are not using a high-speed blender make sure the cashews have been soaking for 2-4 hours to soften before blending.
- Place the rinsed cashews in a blender, add filtered water in the quantity indicated for desired thickness (see below). A tiny bit of salt and a squirt of lemon juice will balance the flavours. The salt and lemon juice can be omitted if the cream or milk goes straight into a highly flavoured recipe.
- Blend on the highest setting for 30 – 45 seconds, or until the milk or cream is completely smooth when tasting with a spoon.
- Use the cashew blend in a recipe right away, store in an airtight glass jar in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.
CASHEW : WATER RATIO
- Cashew Cream – 1 cup cashews : 1 cup water
- Cashew Half-and-half – 1 cup cashews : 2 cups water
- Cashew Milk – 1 cup cashews : 3 cups water