How to Make Cashew Cream (Vegan Heavy Cream Substitute)
An Inexpensive and Easy Substitution
Recently I have been incredibly interested in veganizing common "non-vegan" recipes. Of course it is a true delight to be in the kitchen experimenting and formulating new ideas, but sometimes it can be difficult. When it comes to making a recipe vegan, there are plenty of things to consider. If trying to substitute a protein, the textures, flavors, and versatility of tofu, seitan, tempeh, etc., must be considered when trying to reap similar results as the original. The same thing applies to choosing dairy replacement options. Sure, there are plenty of branded options for nearly everything you can think of these days, but oftentimes they are expensive and so darn full of additives that it is such a turnoff to buy them.
The beauty of making cashew cream at home is that, for one, it is incredibly easy, but it is also the purest and least expensive way to cream a dish without having an odd texture or aftertaste. Sometimes the added gums and thickeners that branded products have can alter the flavor or texture of the dish that you are creating, and of course, we don't want that.
Why Only Cashews?
I must emphasize the use of cashews and no other nut (or seed for that matter). Cashews have a mild flavor and are able to be used for sweet and savory recipes due to their ability to remain neutral amongst other flavors. I have tried others for this purpose, believe me, this is not a mistake you want to make—especially for a savory dish! Aside from this, there is also a creaminess that is so specific to cashews which makes them perfect to use as a substitute for heavy cream.
In this recipe, you'll find the use of distilled water for making the cream. This is because distilled water has the purest flavor, so it ensures that your cream will not taste like chlorine, well water, or other funky things. I soak my cashews in distilled water, though I don't find this to be absolutely necessary. This is more of a personal preference as I choose to avoid drinking fluoride for many reasons. I would invite you to research the effects of fluoride in tap water prior to making the decision as to whether or not to use tap water here, or at all.
Choosing Fair Trade Cashews
I recently came across an article that discusses the importance of buying cashews fair trade. The article entitled, "Blood Cashews: The Toxic Truth About Cashew Production", discusses the reality of cashews being produced by forced prison labor in Vietnam, and the terrible working conditions and wages in other countries. I highly recommend reading this article and even further urge you to assure you are buying fair trade cashews. Though they may be a bit pricier and harder to find, the ethical grounds on which we stand far eclipses the value of the almighty dollar escaping our pocket.
- 2 cups raw cashews
- About 4 cups distilled or tap water, for soaking
- 2 cups distilled water, for blending
- Place the cashews in a bowl, pour enough water over them to cover them completely with at least an inch of water above the top. Let the cashews soak overnight, or minimally 8 hours. Strain and rinse them well
- An alternative, though less favorable, option is to bring the same amount of water to a boil, add the cashews, and allow them to boil for 15 minutes. Strain and rinse the cashews and allow them to cool completely.
- Place the cashews and the distilled water together in a high-powered blender. Blend until completely smooth and creamy, scraping sides as necessary.
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I have been using cashew cream for years now and have to say that it truly comes in handy for a plethora of recipes. I have used it to create this incredibly decadent Chocolate Cream Cake for Passover, and also have used it in savory recipes such as my Vegan Tempeh Tikka Masala or perhaps my very favorite, creamed kale (recipe coming soon).
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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