Cashew milk is my go-to for anything that might call for dairy. Why? I'll just get right to it.
1. Short Soaking Time
While it's recommended to soak almonds for at least 7 hours, you can get by with just two hours with cashews. They're a softer nut and break down faster. I've found this means that I gravitate to cashews more often, like when I haven't planned dinner in advance. If it dawns on me at 3:00 pm that tonight's dinner should involve a cream sauce using cashew milk, it's totally doable.
2. No Straining Necessary
I have tried making almond milk, and it's pretty grainy without straining. Even when I soak them for a long time and use my Vitamix or Hurom juicer to make the milk. I tried straining through a nut milk bag after, and my hands became cold, wet, and achy from the experience. (Could I have been doing something wrong? Yes. That would fix the achy part, but how do you keep from getting cold and wet?) It definitely made me more willing to get store-bought almond milk after that experience. I tried straining with a mesh strainer, but I think the strainer would have to be much finer than what I have. I will keep my eyes open for a fine one, because I will say the taste of the almond milk I made was so delicious. It tasted like store-bought with almond extract added to it. Oh, that's what fresh almond milk tastes like!
So after all that, I come back to cashew milk. It's been plenty smooth right out of the blender every time I've made it, ready to go directly into a bottle. Not labor-intensive at all. The texture is creamy and lovely.
After spilling precious cashew milk each time I transferred the milk from blender to jar or bottle, I finally broke out my funnel. Wow, why didn't I do that a lot sooner?
Cashews are a good source of protein, iron, and magnesium. They also contain calcium, fiber, and B6 vitamins. Without calcium as an additive, I seem to still do fine in the calcium department, since I eat a well-rounded plant-based diet. Here's an article about calcium and a plant-based diet.
Terrasoul says this about their organic cashews,
"Raw cashew nuts contain a rich portfolio of extremely beneficial oils, including an ideal ratio of healthy saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Raw cashews are also a great source of dietary trace minerals such as copper, iron and zinc. We use a low-heat harvesting process to remove the cashew from its hard outer shell to preserve valuable enzymes, healthy fats and the nut's delicate sweet flavor. Our raw Whole Cashews are the perfect choice for creamy raw desserts, granolas, nut milks, and many savory culinary creations!"
When I make my own cashew milk, it is raw cashews and filtered water. That's it. When I buy it at the store, it can have things like cane sugar, locust bean gum, lecithin, gellan gum, ascorbic acid, and natural flavor - whatever that is. Plus vitamins and calcium that are artificially added.
While caffeine is known to reduce the absorption of calcium (see above article), my morning cup of coffee remains a joy in my life. I am working on reducing the quantity by increasing the quality. I adore a good strong coffee flavor, and am not interested in any other version of coffee. OK, a coffee snob. I've always had my coffee black because, although I've tried every variation of cream under the sun, I've never found one I like. Until now. That's right: plain homemade cashew milk. It's the best! And the reason? Mostly, no additives. Especially, no sugars added. It's the extras like added sugar that turn the robust coffee flavor I love into bluuuck. Plain homemade cashew milk allows that great coffee flavor to come through unscathed. Yesssss.
I've tried several coffee makers and have not found many that provide that robust flavor. I also want coffee without a lot of fuss and expense. Too much to ask? I thought so, until I finally came across an Aeropress while desperate in Whistler a couple years ago, and my husband and I use that every morning. I get that rich cup of coffee I'm after, mmmm. It's brewed directly into the cup. The fun part: The end twists off and the coffee grounds just pop out as a disc directly into the compost bin! The plastic's BPA-free, and I just ordered the Purple Tractor's stainless steel reusable filters. They have good reviews, and I'm hoping they'll work just as smoothly. I'll let you know on Instagram & Facebook once I've received them.
Cashews don't have that sweet amaretto note that almonds have, nor the tartness of soy. It's a clean slate kind of flavor that helps those around it shine - another reason why it works as my coffee's creamer, and just as well as in creamy alfredo sauce and other savory dishes, and desserts and smoothies.
And let's not forget oatmeal!
6. The Price is Right
Nuts are expensive. Especially when buying organic - if you can find them. Yet it doesn't take a lot of cashews to make a decent amount of cashew milk, and cashews tend to be less expensive than other nuts. I can make a quart (the size of the unrefrigerated rectangle boxes at the store) for $1.95 when I buy Terrasoul Organic Cashews in 4 lb. quantities. 4 lbs. is a nice amount when trying to keep cashew milk in the fridge. That's competitive with the store-bought kind while being organic and without the additives!
7. No Mammals were Involved in the Making of this Milk
As a kid, I disliked milk with a passion. A glass of plain milk would be put in front of me, and I would cringe. I didn't like the taste or smell, so much so that I couldn't even call it milk. I called it "mik" (my husband still teases me about this). My mom had an unusual situation to deal with at the dinner table: a kid who didn't like cheese. She finally gave up trying to make me eat grilled cheese and gave me grilled peanut butter. She was lactose intolerant, and I envied her excuse. I'm finding that, as adults, many of us are lactose-intolerant.
After watching documentaries like Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives, I became more aware of what those cows on big factory farms have to go through to give us their milk. That milk that's made specifically for their calves to grow. I'm really ok with being lactose intolerant. In fact, I don't need the excuse. The cows are enough.
Cashew Milk Recipe
Makes a quart
for about $1.95,
depending on your source
Double to make a half gallon
More blending = creamier
Less water = thicker
Prep time: less than 5 minutes + at least 2 hours soaking time.
Note: Separation is normal as the milk settles in the fridge. When you take the cashew milk out, simply give it a good shake before opening.
2/3 cups raw cashews
1+ cups filtered water for soaking
3 1/2 cups filtered water for blending
1. Soak: Place the cashews in a bowl and add enough filtered water to cover. I like to cover the bowl with a cloth (like the napkins below) while the cashews soak for at least 2 hours.
2. Drain and rinse the cashews, then place them in a blender.
3. Add 3 1/2 cups filtered water. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.
4. Place in a sealed quart bottle or jars. I use a funnel to make pouring from blender to bottle easier. Stick the containers in the fridge immediately.
5. Within 5 days, use as you would dairy milk: as a drink, in drinks, in oatmeal, for baking, to make creamy sauces, etc. Enjoy thoroughly.