I absolutely love cream cheese, and it’s one of the things I’ve missed most (except cheese curds, maybe) in a dairy-free diet. Enter this simple fermented cashew cream cheese, which does a surprisingly excellent job, and with just five ingredients and a little waiting time needed, it’s also well worth trying.
There are a handful of vegan cream cheese options on the market, but they’re either soya based or hugely expensive – usually both – and I find soya cream cheese usually just tastes like tofu. Store bought cashew cheese is pricey and not any better than homemade.
Cashews are, of course, not cheap, so this is a treat. With whole wheat sourdough bagels it’s a dairy-free dream.
Full disclosure, this recipe was developed as part of a sponsored post on instagram (here) with gebana, using their fair-trade cashews. That video has been changed slightly and included in the post here.
- Cashews: raw and unsalted. Roasted cashews add too much of a nutty flavour.
- Water: just tap water – if yours is bad, use filtered or distilled instead.
- Probiotics: mine are 2 billion per capsule, but I mistranslated and thought they were 2 million (miljard, in Dutch, it’s understandably confusing), so you can probably use less. I just realised this right now so I’ve been using three capsules at 2 billion each.
- Lemon Juice: fresh for the best flavour.
- Sea Salt: fine grain, to evenly incorporate, as it’s added late.
Step by Step
Notes and Substitutions
I use an immersion blender, and it works perfectly for this recipe. A high speed standing blender will, of course, be just as effective – but a good immersion blender is a tiny fraction of the size and price and can do very nearly as much.
I’ve never tried this recipe in a high speed blender and I have heard that some people choose to add the probiotic powder after blending to ensure it doesn’t heat up. This isn’t an issue when using an immersion blender.
Soak the cashews in very hot water for an hour instead of several hours for a quicker option.
You could try to free-ferment the cheese, rather than using probiotics, but it’s much less guaranteed. There is an option to add a spoonful of another vegan fermented cheese, following the same method as for the coconut yogurt in my book, but I find it a bit trickier than powder for this recipe as it’s thicker.
The cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, but toss it if you see any sign of mould. It doesn’t freeze well.
Be certain to sterilise the jar you plan to ferment the cashew cheese in, the same as you would for any other ferment or preserve. Boil it, run it through a hot dishwasher, whatever you usually do.
Leave a gap between the top of the cheese and the lid of the jar it will ferment in. It does expand, and if the jar is too small, it’ll either push up and under the lid, or if too tightly sealed, the jar could explode.
There are no substitutions for this recipe. You can add other elements to the finished cheese, like fresh or dried herbs or spices, to flavour as you like.
More Staple Recipes
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Fermented Cashew Cream Cheese
- 300 grams cashews raw and unsalted
- 60 ml cup water
- 3 probiotic capsules 2 billion
- Juice of a lemon ~3 tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- Before beginning, sterilise a 500ml (17 oz.) or larger jar and soak 300 grams (2 cups) cashews for at least four hours.
- Once the cashews have soaked, drain and rinse well. Add them to a tall mixing container with 60 ml (1/4 cup) water and powder from 3 probiotic capsules.
- Blend on high speed with an immersion blender until very smooth. You shouldn’t need to add more water, but if necessary, only add it a teaspoon at a time.
- Once the cashew mixture has blended, spoon it into the sterilised jar. Loosely screw the lid on (if using a flip-top jar, remove the rubber ring) and set in a cool, dark place.
- After 12-24 hours, the cheese should be significantly expanded and look as though air pockets have formed throughout. This is how you’ll know it’s fermented properly. There should be no sign of mould when you open the jar.
- Once the cheese has fermented, mix the lemon juice and salt, stirring well to ensure even distribution. Taste the cheese and season to your taste.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week.