nut milk cheese and yogurt making

Asked March 16, 2017, 7:35 PM EDT

I am making fresh cashew and other nut milk cheeses and yogurts and the process calls for adding some vegan yogurt and then letting sit for 1 -3 days. I worry about risks. Would it be safer to use a probiotic capsule instead. Here is a typical recipe I use for cheese making but I soak the cashews for about 8 hours usually. Some recipes call for miso to be added in place of nutritional yeast flakes.

1 cup raw cashews soaked in water for 3 hours and drained
1 cup water
1/2 cup plain unsweetened soy yogurt
1/2 cup refined coconut oil
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes
1-1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1 teaspoon agar flakes


1. In a blender, combine cashews, water, yogurt, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, and 1 teaspoon salt and process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let sit at room temperature for 24 to 36 hours. Taste occasionally until it develops desired flavor.

2. Pour mixture into a medium saucepan. Use a whisk to mix in tapioca flour and agar, then heat over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook until mixture is thick and pulls away from the side of the pan, about 5 minutes.

3. Line a 6-inch cake pan with cheesecloth and pour in hot cheese. Spread mixture evenly, cover with cheesecloth, and let cool in refrigerator until firm. The inside will still be soft.

4. Remove cheesecloth. Wet hands, then sprinkle them with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and rub wet salt over cheese. Place cheese on a wire rack and let sit in a cool corner for 24 hours. Flip cheese over and let rest 12 hours until it appears dry. Wrap in wax paper and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. For longer
storage, freeze in a sealed plastic bag.

Here is a typical yogurt recipe

  1. Warm 4 cups of cashew milk, 1 tablespoon of sweeter and thickener of choice whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat. Let cool to under 110 degrees.
  2. Add the 2 tablespoons non-dairy yogurt (or probiotic starter) and stir until thoroughly combined.
  3. Pour into a clean 1 quart glass jar and cover. Let rest for 8 hours or longer at 108 degrees , until set and the desired degree of tartness has been achieved.
  4. Refrigerate the yogurt; it will thicken even more as it cools.
  5. Stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, Cashew Yogurt will keep for 1 to 2 weeks.

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

Sorry for the delayed response.
We wanted some input from others in Food Science and Technology. These recipes are worrisome. They contain several low-acid products and count on a slow fermentation for safety. Before that happens there is opportunity for pathogen growth, increased by potential contamination of each raw component and possibly poor hygiene or sanitized equipment or surfaces.

Apparently probiotics do not add safety because they ferment slowly which is a greater potential problem if used alone.

It doesn’t look like the heating step in either product would be adequate to kill pathogens and even then it would not be enough to destroy potential toxins if the pathogen was a staph aureus.

We don’t have good guidelines for safe products of these types, but these look like there are substantial food safety risks in the ingredients and processes.