This is the best vegan sour cream I’ve ever had. For real.
If you’ve been following along with my posts, you know that I often have a blob of sour cream on my meals. Can you blame me? Sour cream tastes good on everything!
Especially when it tastes so much like the real thing.
While I was at the store buying raw cashews to make this batch, I met a new friend and chatted for a bit about raw and vegan food.
When the raw cashews came into the discussion, I described a short version of the cashew sour cream process:
Cashews, water, probiotic powder, blend, warmth, time, the end.
I have been meaning to write up my recipe for sour cream for a while now. And meeting a new friend was a sign.
So I came home and started documenting and photographing the long version of this process, so that you could enjoy vegan sour cream for yourself.
Why is Sour Cream Sour?
Sour cream is a dairy product obtained by fermenting regular cream with certain kinds of lactic acid bacteria. The bacterial culture, which is introduced either deliberately or naturally, sours and thickens the cream.
So for our vegan sour cream, we will just replace the “dairy product” with “plant-based product” and be on our way with some lactic fermentation.
Calm down. This will be easy.
I’m just filling you in on how this is working at the tiny level.
You have heard of probiotics before. You might be taking them already. You know they are in yogurt and that probiotics are good for your gut health.
When you get sick and take antibiotics, you might have heard that your internal “good” bacteria get wiped out and that you have to replenish your gut flora with probiotics.
You may even remember your old friend by name, Lactobacillus acidophilus.
L. acidophilus a few of his buddies are going to help our cashew cream turn into sour cream.
The word ‘lactic’ might make you think of dairy, but there is no milk in this process.
The probiotics eat sugars and leave behind lactic acid and some CO2. It happens in dairy with yogurt and cheese. It happens with sauerkraut and kimchi. It happens in cashew cream too!
And all you need to know is that the cashew cream that tasted like blended up cashews and water sits overnight and magically thickens and tastes like sour cream in the morning.
The Vegan Sour Cream Process
There is very little action on your part to make vegan sour cream. The probiotics do all of the heavy lifting.
First you soak your cashews in water overnight.
The next day, you blend them in your Vitamix with as much water as you need to get them flowing, smooth, and creamy. As it’s whizzing around in there, you add the powder from one probiotic capsule. Just open up the capsule and add the contents to the blending cream.
Scoop everything out of the blender and into a Mason jar.
Feel free to take a taste from your spoon.
Not very impressive, right? Don’t panic, you’re doing it right. I promise.
Lightly salt the surface of the cream. This is an optional step, but it helps prevent mold growth. I’ve never had a problem with mold growing on my cashew cream (even without the salt), but have mold problems when culturing almonds.
So I do a light dusting of salt on the cashew cream just in case it’s having a bad day and needs a little extra help.
Close it up with a lid. Lactic fermentation works best without oxygen, so your lid should be tight.
Put the Mason jar of cashew cream in your oven with the door closed and the oven light on for about 10 hours. I usually leave the jar in the oven overnight.
Leaving the light on in your oven keeps it warm enough in there for all the culturing magic to happen. You don’t need any special equipment or thermometers. Just your little oven light will make a happy, warm place for the probiotics to do their thing.
Please don’t forget that you are culturing and preheat your oven to 450 degrees for a late-night pizza or something. Eek! If you need to, put a note on your oven door “Culturing in process!” or something to prevent a probiotic massacre.
That’s an important step. Haha. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. Oops.
After about 10 hours or so, taste the progress.
Take the jar out of the oven.
It will have thickened up a bit, and it will have tiny air bubbles where the probiotics have been breaking down the natural sugar in the cashews. It worked!
Give it a stir to mix in the salt and bubbles. And taste it.
You could notice a few things here.
First, it might be too sweet still. You’ll notice a bit of the sour tang happening, but you feel it is still too cashew-y and needs more culturing time.
No problem. Put the lid back on and stick the jar back in the oven with the light on for another hour or two, depending on how much more culturing it needs.
The other thing that might happen when you taste it is that you will fall over at the shock of tasting sour cream for the first time in your vegan life.
And you’ll know it’s done culturing.
Storage and Care of your Vegan Sour Cream
If you have a dish to use it on right now, go ahead and use it.
Otherwise, stand up and dust yourself off, put the lid back on, and put the jar in the fridge.
The cream will continue to thicken in the fridge, so depending on how you will be using it, you can always add a splash of water and give it a stir for a thinner consistency.
When I make batches of this, I usually use the whole jar within a week.
I’ve also had great success freezing the sour cream. The pint-sized Mason jars and plastic lids are freezable, so you can just stick the jar right in the freezer. When you are ready to use it, move the jar from the freezer to the fridge to thaw the night before you need it.
When it’s thawed, give it a stir, and put it on everything.
What do you use Vegan Sour Cream on?
Sour cream and chives top baked potatoes. These are the basics. But keep going!
This sour cream is great as a topping, but it is also works great as a base for dips and dressings.
My Favorite Recipes for Sour Cream:
Get fancy topping your potatoes with the Fully-Loaded Sweet Potatoes.
Sour cream adds an amazing flavor profile to Winter Squash Soup.
A big blob of sour cream practically waits its whole life to be the crown atop a bowl of Chili.
Sour cream topping Adzuki Bean & Squash Stew.
Tacos…tacos are always better with sour cream, especially summer squash tacos.
And sour cream in Broccoli Cheddar Soup, yes please!
Don’t forget vegan Kabocha Squash Black Bean Enchiladas!
- 1½ cup raw organic cashews, soaked overnight
- 1 capsule vegan probiotic powder
- sprinkle of salt (optional)
- water (have a cup on hand to pour slowly as needed)
- Soak the raw cashews in water overnight.
- Drain and rinse the cashews.
- Put cashews into your Vitamix or high-speed blender.
- Open the probiotic capsule and dump the contents onto the cashews.
- Start the blender and add water slowly until the cashews are blending smoothly and turning into a thick cream.
- Scrape cashew cream out of blender and into pint-sized wide-mouth Mason jar.
- Lightly salt the surface of the cream.
- Put lid on jar.
- Leave jar of cashew cream in oven with the light on and door closed for 6-8 hours.
- Check and test after 6 hours.
- Stir sour cream and taste.
- If done, move to freezer or fridge. If it needs more time to culture, put it back in the oven with light on and check again in another hour or two.
- Use to top your favorite foods or use as a base for dressings, dips, and sauces.