It’s time to get personal! I’ve written a quite a few blog posts about nutrition but they’ve mostly been quite theory-based. After a few requests from friends for recipes, I decided it was time to share the food-love and share some of my recipes. I have spent the last decade or so getting quite inventive in the kitchen and learning a lot about nutrition after I found I had a milk allergy when I was a student and later found I was gluten intolerant. This has led me to some strange and wonderful workarounds and unusual ingredients, some of which, if I’m honest, I think you’d only choose to eat if you had allergies like me! Others are healthier alternatives, good for vegans or just something different to add variety to the diet.
This yoghurt recipe probably falls into a several of those categories. My other half is not a vegan nor is he allergic to dairy, but enjoyed this creamy yoghurt, so I’ll take that as evidence it’s not just for people who have restricted diets. It’s also worth sharing because it’s quite obscure! It’s hard to find non-dairy yoghurt recipes especially using ingredients readily available in the UK as most yoghurt starter products contain milk-based cultures. Nutritionally speaking, it’s pretty calorie-laden due to the high-fat content of the nuts, but in moderation it can be a good addition to the diet. Fats are an important source of energy and cashews also contain vitamin K and minerals such as copper, magnesium, selenium and phosphorus.
You can use this yoghurt in recipes which will suddenly add lots of exciting options if you don’t eat dairy yoghurt. My favourite was in the garlic and buttercream sauce for these Ottolenghi aubergines (buttercream also improvised with a cashew emulsion and lemon juice). The sweetness of readymade soya yoghurt and the strong coconut flavour of CoYo makes it hard to use them in many savoury recipes but I think the cashew yoghurt is really versatile. It does thicken on heating though so factor that in if you cook with it.
My version of this recipe has just two ingredients (if you don’t count water)! It’s really about the method rather than what you put in. That said, when you only have 2 ingredients, the end result relies on the quality of those ingredients.
I tend to buy cashews as cheaply as possible and I can buy them in bulk because I use such a lot of them, but try to use good ones for this recipe. Make sure they’re fresh – the processing of the cashew fruit to extract the kernels we recognise should mean they keep for some time but the process isn’t always perfect and I’ve occasionally had ones that are a little off so ensure they are still fresh and have no brown bits before you start. For the probiotic, I just used Holland & Barrett mega potency acidophilus which are fairly cheap and cheerful but seem to work. I used a Nutribullet to blend the cashews. You don’t have to use a Nutribullet, I’ve also made it with a cheap stick blender and a Magimix. The Nutribullet gives the smoothest results of the three, but the stick blender wasn’t too bad.
A friend asked me about making this for her toddler who has a milk allergy; it strikes me that it’s unpasteurised and even though it’s not a dairy product, because of the natural fermentation I would be wary of giving it to very young kids or eating it while pregnant or with a compromised immune system so if this applies to you check with a health professional first.
100g raw cashews (about 2/3 cup)
1-2 capsules of high-potency acidophilus
180-220ml water (part for soaking, part for the yoghurt)
- Soak the cashews in water in the fridge for about 8-12 hours (longer is fine too, but would start to affect shelf life if it ran into days), then drain and rinse in a sieve or colander.
- Put the soaked, rinsed cashews into a high-powered blender (I used a Nutribullet) and cover with water and blend. Allow it to run long enough to get to a smooth emulsion. It doesn’t matter if the mixture warms slightly from this processing as it will be warmed a little afterwards anyway.
- Check for thickness, add a little more water if you want a runnier product. It will thicken a little in the fermentation process so don’t worry if it’s quite runny at this stage.
- Open a capsule or two of probiotics (you can usually just twist the two halves of the capsule apart, but if not then carefully snip with clean scissors). Pour this into the cashew mixture and stir though so it’s well mixed.
- Cover lightly, but allowing air to escape and leave somewhere warm for 10-12 hours+. I put mine in a slightly warm oven (heated to minimum temperature for 5 minutes then switched off, re-warming intermittently). If using the oven method be careful not to overheat, if the mixture exceeds 38 degrees C it will kill the probiotics. If you have somewhere warm in your home or you live in a warm climate you may not need the oven, but in the UK in winter this is the best bet in my flat!
- I taste after 10 hours for tanginess to see how it’s developing. I find it takes longer in winter as my kitchen is quite cool. The fermentation will result in bubbles of carbon dioxide to form in the yoghurt, you can stir and tap the container to release these before you eat it.
- Once it’s tangy enough for you, keep in the fridge and consume as you would with regular yoghurt.
Hope you enjoy and let me know how you get on!