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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Plant Based Dairy Basics

As I am developing non-dairy recipes, I seem to come back to the same base products again and again. I thought it would be easiest, if I just had those base products/recipes all in one place, so I can just link to it in future recipes.

Dairy-Free Yogurt

When I first started experimenting with Dairy-Free Yogurt, I started with the recipes by Kelly of http://www.thespunkycoconut.com.
I have since developed my own preferences in how I make my yogurt, both texture and flavor wise, but they are based on Kelly’s base recipe. Thank you, Kelly!

Add to a pot:
3 cups cashew milk
3 cups canned coconut milk
1 tbsp. Raw Coconut Nectar  (or honey, or palm sugar - we just want something to help feed the bacteria, rather than sweeten the yogurt)
Bring to simmer. Watch carefully so it doesn’t boil over.
Once it begins to simmer turn off the heat.
While the milk is warming, let
1 tbsp. of gelatin 
bloom in
1/4 cup of water.
(OR 1.5 tsp agar powder, dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water)

Blooming simply means that you sprinkle it on top of the water and leave it undisturbed until it has absorbed the water. Then you heat the mix until it bubbles and turns into a clear liquid.
Whisk your gelatin mixture (or your agar mixture)  into the hot milk.
Take your pan off the heat and place it in a basin full of cold water. You can add some ice cubes to your water bath, to hasten things along. We want to cool the mixture down to about 95F. An instant read thermometer really helps here. If you don’t have one, place a little of the hot milk on the inside of your wrist. If it no longer has the slightest “heat” to it but is still warm, your ready to whisk in the
contents of about 9 probiotic capsules (make sure they are dairy free.)
You just need to pull the capsules apart and use the dried powder inside.
When all the probiotic powder is whisked in, ladle into jars and keep warm for about 10 hours.
I use my yogurt maker, but I have also successfully made this yogurt many other ways.
One of the easiest is to use mason jars, placed in the oven (lids off) and wrapped/draped with a thick bath towel) with only the oven light on for 10 hrs.

If there is a clear pool at the bottom after 10 hours, don’t worry about it. Just secure the lids tightly and shake the yogurt to mix it in before refrigerating.

Refrigerate for 8 hours. It does actually take this long and it is possible that your yogurt looks very thin and runny for quite some time before that. But don’t worry, it will set up fine - just wait for the required 8 hours!

Keep refrigerated.


This dairy-free yogurt works really nicely as a sour cream replacement too!



Instead of reinventing the wheel, I will just post a few links to videos/articles of people making rejuvelac. You will find that ever recipe is ever so slightly different, but all of them have the same end result, which does show how forgiving the process is, once you got it down!
I started making Rejuvelac after I got Miyoko Shinner’s book Artisan Vegan Cheese. Many of her cheese recipes require Rejuvelac and even though I was initially a bit weary about it all, once I got it right, I really saw/tasted, why it was so much the culturing agent of her choice!

http://www.rawmazing.com/rejuvelac/ (they also answer all sorts of trouble shooting in the comment section.)

A few personal notes on the process:

1.) My first batch went horribly wrong and smelled extremely putrid. Way worse than “old socks”. This was not a good batch and in retrospect I know what went wrong. I sprouted the grains in a mason jar and neglected to drain them COMPLETELY during the sprouting process.
My batches since then have all been a success, mostly because I used my sprouting jar and made sure it all drained really well.
2.) I still don’t drink the stuff, but I do use it in all sorts of plant based dairy. It is awesome in culturing plant based dairy and gives that unique cheesy flavor - much more so than many other ways I’ve tried.  To me it isn’t so much the smell of “old socks” but more that of a slightly pungent/very ripe cheese. It’s not all that unpleasant and I tend to drain and refrigerate the liquid as soon as I smell that cheesy smell!
3.) If you are living gluten-free, you can sprout brown rice and or gluten-free oats. I have tried wheat, rye, brown rice and oats so far and all have worked great, even though each and ever one had a slightly different smell/flavor to them.
4.) Rejuvelac keeps for up to a month in the refrigerator.


Cashew Sour Cream/Cream Cheese

Soak 1 cup of RAW Cashew Pieces (NOT roasted or salted!) in water overnight. I leave it covered out on the counter over night.
Drain and rinse the cashew pieces in the morning and add to a blender.
Add just enough Rejuvelac to process into a thick and creamy puree.
Blend on high until smooth and incorporated, about 2 minutes in the Vitamix.
Transfer into a container with a lid and leave it out at room temperature to culture. I prefer mine cultured for around 24-30 hrs., but tastes vary. It can culture anywhere from 12 - 48 hrs.
Then refrigerate. I find that it continues to culture a little in the refrigerator when left for a few days, but at a much slower rate.

If you were processing your sour cream with a regular blender, chances are that you needed to use much more liquid than you would with a high powered blender.
If your sour cream or cream cheese isn’t really thick, line a colander or sieve with a double layer of a cheese cloth and drain the cultured mix for a few hours until you achieve the desired thickness. Discard the liquid that dripped off. Refrigerate the sour cream/cream cheese.


“Instant” Sour Cream (Uncultured)

This sour cream does requires much less waiting time than the cultured variety. You do need to soak the cashews, but once that step is done, you can have your sour cream in minutes!

1 cups raw cashews
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar,
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
additional fresh lemon juice or vinegar for adjusting the flavor
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4  cup water (if using Vitamix) plus 2-3 tbsp. more water (if using food processor)
Soak 1 cup of RAW Cashew Pieces (NOT roasted or salted!) in water overnight. I leave them in a covered bowl on the counter over night.
Into a food processor or a very powerful blender, combine the cashews, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt. Puree for 1-2 minutes, until you have a thick paste. Scrape the sides of your processor as needed during this process, to make sure everything is well blended.
Slowly, while the processor/blender is running, stream in the water. Let the water incorporate before adding more. It’s the best way to see how much you really need. Use as little water as possible.
Taste test and adjust the flavor with more vinegar, lemon juice and/or salt.
Refrigerate. It will thicken up a bit while it refrigerates too.


Cashew Milk

Makes about 5 cups.
Soak 1 cup of RAW Cashew Pieces (NOT roasted or salted!) in water overnight.  I leave it covered out on the counter over night.
Drain and rinse the cashew pieces  in the morning and add to a blender with 3 1/2 cups of water.
Blend on high until smooth and incorporated, about 2 minutes in the Vitamix.

If you are using a regular blender, it tends to work better to make it in several smaller batches. Process for as long as you can without overheating your blender! Then combine the batches. If you still have bits floating in your milk, you may want to drain your milk through a nut bag or very fine mesh sieve.
I also like to add a pinch of Real Salt and 2 drops of Liquid Stevia to give it some depth of flavor. I store my cashew milk in a glass jug in the refrigerator. So, whenever I refer to Cashew Milk in a recipe, this is what I use!
Keep refrigerated.


Rice Milk #1

This variety of rice milk is great for using up leftover rice and tends to work really well in baking and cooking applications. However, as a “over your cereal” or “drink straight from the glass” milk substitute it is not my preference. For that I would recommend Rice Milk #2.

1/2 cup cooked organic, brown rice
2 cups of water
2 tsp.  sweetener of choice
pinch of salt

Add all ingredients to your blender and blend on high (about 1 minute or so for a high powered blender) until you have a smooth and creamy milk.
If you’re not using a high powered blender, you may have some rice bits left. Simply strain the milk through a fine mesh sieve.
Keep refrigerated.

Rice Milk #2

This milk has a tendency to separate after a while. Just give it a quick shake before use.
Makes about two cups

1/2 cup brown rice
2 cups filtered water

1-2 tsp Organic evaporated Cane Sugar - or stevia, raw coconut nectar, honey, maple syrup, or other sweetener to taste (optional)
pinch salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast rice grains until fragrant and coloring, stirring regularly, about four minutes. Transfer to a bowl or jar and add 2 cups water. Cover and set aside to soak for 10-12 hours.
When soaking in complete, pour rice and water into blender pitcher, add any additional sweeteners and flavorings, and blend on  high until rice grains are no longer visible, about 2 minutes.
Use a nut milk bag or similarly fine strainer to drip milk into a clean glass storage jar or bottle. Chill rice milk thoroughly before serving. Shake well before each use.


Toasting the rice is optional. I would recommend you try it both ways though, and with white and brown rice to find your own flavor preference.
Personally, I prefer a light toasting and the brown rice as it gives a little more depth of flavor to the milk and a less “raw” flavor, for lack of a better description.

For instructions on how to make your own Almond milk/Almond Milk Creamer, see here.

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  1. Wonderful thankyou for all the info on how to make these dairy free options :) Just started a GFCF and sugar free diet for the whole family after recommended by a doctor we saw recently, but looking for good basic whole food recipes is time consuming :)

  2. I'm so happy you're finding it helpful, Hootnz! Good luck with your transition! :)


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