Let’s join Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and 2017 Homesteaders of America conference speaker, Gina Phelps, as she shares with us how to make a nutritious, fermented, prebiotic & probiotic-rich, dairy-free Cashew Kefir!
How to Make Dairy-Free Cashew Kefir
Kefir is a prebiotic drink that is going to feed that wonderful bacteria that is in your colon. It tastes a lot like yogurt and if you haven’t tasted it before it’s got that tangy flavor. But, unlike yogurt, it’s not cooked and has never been heated so it’s a really wonderful, alive product.
A lot of people are familiar with milk kefir, and maybe with water kefir. I find a lot of the clients I work with have a milk sensitivity so I wanted to do something different that didn’t have milk in it. Instead I chose to use cashews to make milk. I’ve read a lot of different recipes for cashew milk and cashew kefir and thought that sounded like a really great thing to use so that’s what I’m gonna be showing you today.
Make the Cashew Milk
I did a little bit of the work ahead of time because you have to soak your cashews for about 5 to 8 hours. You really don’t want much more than that. They tend to get very mushy which is okay because I am going to grind them up. Soak the cashews in pure water and salt. I use a gray sea salt because it’s probably the least refined salt you can get. I put about one to two tablespoons of salt into a container with the nuts and water. After soaking the cashews for the allotted time, strain out all of the water out.
I like to keep the water because it has some value. I do have a farm and I feed it to either my pigs or my chickens and they get the benefit. Of course they’d rather have the kefir than the water but you know they can’t be choosy.
I start out with about two cups of cashews. Yesterday I placed them in a bowl, covered them with about a tablespoon or a little bit more of the salt, and filled it up with water. After soaking overnight you can see the difference. The nuts are a little grayer, softer, and easier to crunch.
Now for the fun! All it takes is a blender, I’m going to use my Vitamix but you can use any blender obviously. Fill the blender with half a gallon of pure water. I used enough cashews in it for two recipes so I’m going to go ahead and fill half of them up and I’m also going to add some dates to it. Dates are a wonderful fruit for sugar. I’m going to add three dates per half-gallon of Cashew Kefir.
One of the things with using a non-dairy cultured product is you have to make sure that you do use some type of sweetener. That’s why use the dates. The culture feeds off the sugar of the dates because cashews don’t really have sugar in them. They’re more protein and fat so we they have a little bit of the carb in there, but not very much. You could certainly add honey or maple syrup instead of dates but that would give a different flavor profile. Just know that the bacteria needs the sugar to eat and and feed off of so when you’re ready to drink Cashew Kefir it’s going to be diminished in sugar because the kefir grains are using it to actually do the culture.
Put the cover on the blender blend until it is liquified.
What is interesting with the cashew milk is that unlike other nut milks you don’t have to strain Cashew Milk. The nuts blend right up, there are really no particles so it gives the milk a really nice, really smooth consistency.
Transforming Cashew Milk into Cashew Kefir
At this point you have Cashew Milk and it’s ready to drink. To turn the Cashew Milk into Cashew Kefir you need to add in the culture.
The next step in the process of making Cashew Kefir is to add the kefir grains for a starter. If you don’t have milk kefir grains you can usually ask a friend and somebody always knows somebody who has them. The milk kefir grains themselves look like little cauliflowers and are very soft. They grow as you feed them.
One of the other nice things about kefir is you can take kefir from the last batch and use it as a culture to make the next batch. Last weekend I saved a little kefir and my husband drank the rest of it. I can take that little bit of kefir and use it as a starter. You can do that for about ten different batches so it’s actually a very inexpensive drink to make. I kind of have a love-hate relationship with reusing kefir grains as a starter culture because they can grow too much sometimes. I can’t control them so I don’t use them on a regular basis. I try to use them about once a year just so I can remind myself how much we don’t enjoy each other’s company.
Or you can use a powdered starter culture from a packet.
I’ve used a couple different products. One that I like is called Yogourmet. It’s a culture of kefir or kefir starter. I bought this at Wegmans. If you live near one they have a lot of starters available. They have even cultured foods in their special market section. I do know that Cultures for Health sells a kefir culture or you can look online for a lot of different cultures that are available.
If you didn’t want to kefir the Cashew Milk you could actually, before you put the powder in, start drinking it. Even after you’ve got the bacteria in there, there’s no reason you couldn’t continue to drink it.
Pour the leftover kefir starter into the Cashew Milk or add your powdered starter culture. Use the whole package and just pour it in and you’re ready to go. It’s pretty much that easy. Again, I’m not cooking, I’m not waiting, I’m not using my oven, my dehydrator or anything else.
Fill your jar to the top with purified water. I’m going to go ahead and just add the water right to it because I really don’t need to blend it with the processor anymore since it was already blended up really nice. Cover the jar with a lid and give it a really good shake.
Cover the jar and leave it on the counter overnight. By morning you’ll see that it all kind of comes together and there’s a little bit of liquid at the bottom. That means it’s really pretty much done. Shake it together and it’s ready to drink.
Cashew Kefir will have a nice and tangy taste. You may want to let it go another day on the counter but usually 12 to 24 hours is enough time and to give it a nice sourness.
I make a fabulous Pumpkin Cashew Kefir Shake using about a cup of the kefir, some ice cubes, some fresh canned pumpkin, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It is a beautiful, really nice, thick pumpkin shake in the autumn it’s so wonderful and then you’ve got some great prebiotics and they are getting ready for when you have your veggies in the evening that are full of the probiotics.
Cashew Milk Kefir
- 1/2 gallon water purified
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt
- 3 dates
- Add the nuts and salt to a bowl and cover with water.
- Cover and allow to sit for 5-8 hours.
- Drain the water.
- Add the nuts, half gallon of water, and dates to a blender. Puree until smooth.
- Pour into a half gallon mason jar.
- Add the kefir culture. Shake well.
- Cover and allow to sit for 24-48 hours until you reach the desired tanginess.
- 1 cup Cashew Kefir
- Ice Cubes
- 1 can pumpkin puree
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