The Simple Hack To Make Homemade Vegan Sour Cream

Sour cream is a delicious condiment used to top dishes from burritos to baked potatoes. However, those who avoid dairy for health reasons or because they're following a vegan diet have to opt out of this fermented cream product. Luckily, there is a simple way to make vegan sour cream at home that can be tailored to your unique taste buds. The trick involves blending raw cashews until they are spreadable and smooth like sour cream, and then adding a few ingredients to tweak the flavor. 

Cashews can require hours of soaking before they become soft enough to blend into a smooth texture — usually by placing your cashews in a bowl of water and letting them hydrate overnight. If you're short on time or didn't plan ahead, you can speed up the soaking process by using hot water that's not quite boiling. This trick will cut down your soaking time to just 15 minutes, while still ensuring a creamy cashew sauce.

While you can use different nuts for your vegan spreads, cashews are the best choice for dairy-free sour cream because they are naturally fatty and creamy with a mild flavor. Cashews don't have a tough outer skin and are softer than other nuts, which makes them easier to blend into a completely smooth paste. Raw, unsalted cashews, when soaked in near-boiling water for fifteen to twenty minutes become soft enough to blend into a perfectly non-grainy or lumpy cream.

The many variations of vegan cashew cream

To turn your processed cashews into vegan sour cream, you need to incorporate some acidity, using lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (or both) to achieve that tangy taste. If you add nutritional yeast you can give it a sharper cheesy flavor. If you really want to elevate your cashew sour cream, mixing live culture capsules into your blended cashews and allowing it to sit out for a day or two will not only create those healthy probiotics that are in dairy-based sour cream but will also replicate the fermented flavor. 

When it comes to versatility, cashews are the superior nut for a reason. They can be swapped in to replace just about any creamy element in your dish. Cashew cream, made much more quickly with this quick-soaking hack, can be used for a wide variety of dishes, from queso to alfredo sauce, to creamy fruit smoothies. If you want a nuttier flavor, try using roasted cashews, using the same quick-hot-soak method. Of course, the texture is pivotal and this hot water-soaking hack can be used for other nut-based spreads like almond ricotta cheese. If you are trying to create a dairy-free and nut-free creamy spread, soaking sunflower, pumpkin, or hemp seeds in hot water before blending would also work well.