As someone who loves to eat, it’s been exciting to get creative and try new things while following a healthier path. You might think that some of these things are more complicated, but with a little pre-planning and prep work, they have actually simplified the process of eating well. Once made, these foods are good to go, ready to be adapted with additional ingredients in whatever way you desire. Best of all, they taste great.
Cashew milk, made from soaked raw cashews, is another interesting option. The first time I made cashew milk, I strained it, thinking it required the same process as almond milk. Afterwards, while re-reading the Vitamix recipe, I glanced at the bottom of the page. No straining required. It was a fortunate mistake though, because by straining the milk I discovered cashew cream. I also found it was a way to make the milk and cream at the same time. Most recipes I’ve seen blend the soaked cashews with either more water to make cashew milk, or less water to make cashew cream, and don’t require straining. I like my method better, getting both milk and cream out of 1 cup of cashews, a bargain 2 for 1 deal. The method of straining also makes the cashew milk less gritty and a little lower in overall fat content than in non-strained versions, which is a nice little bonus.
Even more exciting is this wonderful strained leftover, cashew cream. The cream has a neutral flavor which you can make savory or sweet and use in recipes similar to the way you would use heavy whipping cream. In next week’s post, I’ll be sharing a recipe that my husband made for Valentine’s Day dinner using cashew cream as a base for a white wine sauce drizzled over sea bass. The sauce was excellent without the over-satiated feeling you get from heavy whipping cream. Containing very little saturated fat, cashew cream is something I wish I’d found a long time ago.
The process for making cashew milk is identical to making almond milk, but the straining method takes just a little longer, and you’ll use both muslin and cheesecloth to end up with both milk and cream. You’ll find pictures below of the setup I use, which is basically a strainer, a big bowl, and one piece each of muslin and cheesecloth. I use a large over-the-sink strainer because I usually make a double batch, and I find the milk drains better when it is spread out over a larger surface area. You can use whatever large strainer and bowl you have, but the important pieces to getting a smoother milk and thicker cream are the muslin and cheesecloth, and a little bit of time.
In using this 2 for 1 method, it’s really important to soak the cashews for at least 12 hours before you process them in the blender. If you don’t, the milk won’t strain through the muslin, and you won’t end up with the leftover cashew cream. At first the straining process might seem a little tedious, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly. The double bargain of cashew milk and cashew cream are worth it.
Cashew Milk & Cashew Cream
(adapted from the Vitamix Create cookbook)
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
3-1/2 cups of fresh water
muslin and cheesecloth
Put the cashews in a separate bowl with three cups of water, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and soak overnight or at least 12 hours. After 12 or more hours, discard the soaking water and rinse the cashews. Put the cashews and 3-1/2 cups of fresh water in the blender container. Using the highest speed on the blender, blend the ingredients for about 2 minutes. The mixture will become smooth and creamy and will have a thick layer of foam on top.
To strain the mixture, place the strainer so it sits elevated over the bowl. Take the muslin and run it under water and then squeeze the excess water out. Line the strainer with the muslin, making sure it is large enough to cover the entire strainer and hang over the edges a bit. Slowly pour the entire mixture over the muslin into the strainer. Let sit until most of the liquid has drained through, at least 30 minutes. Once the liquid has stopped dripping through the muslin, carefully gather the edges of the muslin together, lift out of the strainer with the cream still sitting in the muslin, and place in a separate bowl as is.
Take the cheesecloth, fold it over itself to create a double thickness, run it under water, and squeeze the excess water out. Line the same strainer, still sitting on top of the bowl, with the cheesecloth, again making sure it is large enough to cover the entire strainer and hang over the edges a little. Scoop the cream mixture from the muslin sitting in the separate bowl into the cheesecloth, gently spreading it out so any remaining liquid can drain easily. Let this sit for at least another 30 minutes, until the cream looks like it has thickened and the liquid has mostly stopped dripping through. You can alternatively let the milk strain for several hours to make an even thicker cream.
Gather the edges of the cheesecloth together and lift it out of the strainer, with the cream inside, into a separate bowl. Gently scoop cream from cheesecloth into a small storage container for later use. Remove the strainer from the bowl and set aside. Use a whisk to stir the milk in the bowl, since some of the sediment will have settled as it sat, and pour into another storage container. Store both milk and cream in the refrigerator. You can also freeze the cream, just make sure to stir it well after it unthaws.
Makes about 3 cups of cashew milk and about 1 cup of cashew cream