I have a sweet friend who was diagnosed a few years ago with allergies to both gluten and casein. In that time, the one thing that she has missed more than anything else is sour cream. Crazy, right? There are substitutes for wheat and lots of things to use in place of milk, but it is very difficult to replace the creaminess of sour cream. Until she commented on it, I really hadn't thought about how unique so many dairy products really are. I am not sure that sour cream would be nearly so high on my list, but who knows? If you take it away from me, it just might be.
I wanted to surprise her with an alternative; so I looked around online and stumbled onto a couple links for making sour cream out of cashews. I think "skeptical" might be far too weak a word for what I was thinking.
In the interest of surprising my friend with a treat she had been missing, I decided to give it a try. And it WORKED. I am still shocked that a handful of nuts could be transformed into something like this, but it really did work!
If you are a regular sour cream user, I will tell you now, that on it's own, this does not taste exactly like sour cream to ME. (My friend, on the other hand, not having tasted sour cream in quite a while, thought it was very close.) However, in a dish, a dip or a sauce, it DOES taste like sour cream. I made my family's favorite Homemade Ranch Dip using this sour cream and I could not tell the difference. Side by side at the table, they both tasted like the same dip. I have a couple of friends with milk allergies that are excited to be able to enjoy a dairy free ranch dressing once again.
Dairy Free Sour Cream
recipe adapted from Addicted to Veggies and Food.com
(printable Sour Cream recipe)
(printable Homemade Ranch Dip recipe)
1 3/4 cups raw cashews
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar,
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
additional fresh lemon juice or vinegar for adjusting the flavor
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water (if using Vitamix) plus 1/4 cup water (if using food processor)
Step 1: Place the cashews in a 3-4 cup container and cover with water. Soak them at least 8 hours. Mine soaked about 24 hours before I had a chance to finish making the recipe. They will expand in size while they soak. There should be slightly more than 2 cups worth of cashews after you drain the water.
Step 2: Into a food processor or a very powerful blender, combine the cashews, 1 tablespoon each of vinegar and lemon juice, and salt. Puree for 1-2 minutes, until you have a thick and oily paste. (Warning: I thought it smelled pretty bad as this point!) Scrape the sides of your processor as needed during this process, to make sure everything is well blended.
Step 3: VERY slowly, just 1/4 cup at a time, while the processor is on, stream in the water. Let each 1/4 cup of water puree for a bit before adding the next.
The finished sour cream will be slightly more watery than regular sour cream, but it will thicken after it has been chilled for about an hour. This can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks or it can be frozen in small containers. I have it frozen in several 1/2 cup containers and I'm looking forward to being able to make a dairy-free ranch dressing for my friends as needed in the future.