Non-dairy milks without additives, customized by you.
We consume a lot of almond and coconut milk these days – especially in coffee and smoothies and on granola. It is low in calories and sugar, high in vitamins E and D and calcium and does not contain cholesterol. It tastes good. If you are lactose intolerant or vegan – you already know the virtues of nut milks.
There are now a variety of nondairy milks: almond, cashew, hazelnut, peanut and macadamia milks – as well as soy, rice, oat, hemp , buckwheat, Quinoa, Flax seed, and coconut milk. Check out the ASE article on new and unusual non-dairy milks.
I am intrigued with making nut and grain milks at home.
Until a year ago, I would have been content to pick up my alternative milk at the grocery store and even then, I might have questioned whether it made sense to lug those cartons home. Now I am at home more than usual and possibly have more patience for projects which begin one day and end another. I like the idea of making ‘milk’ from pantry stable nuts and grains so that I am never without. My non-dairy milk does not contain preservatives and stabilizers like Carrageenan which is made from seaweed and can cause digestive problems and inflammation. I can customize my milk with sweetener and flavors like honey and cinnamon. Much like my experience growing tomatoes at home, I am not sure that I save money by making my own nut milk.
(Image credit: Lauren Volo)
Nut Milk Basics: Here’s the short and sweet on making nut milk at home.
- Buy raw nuts.
- Soak the nuts overnight.
- Drain and rinse the soaked nuts.
- Blend the nuts with fresh water.
- Strain the nut milk.
- Sweeten, if desired.
- Chill, drink, enjoy.
Wash, rinse, repeat once a week for nut milk happiness.
How to choose nuts
- Always choose raw nuts.Not only do they last longer, but they also take much better to soaking and grinding and impart a light, clean flavor.
- Make sure the nuts are fresh and the best quality you can afford. Rancid nuts make for rancid nut milk, and since nut milk involves very minimal processing and just two ingredients, buy the best quality you can afford.
- Avoid skins where possible.I’d never suggest that you should peel almonds or pecans, but when making peanut or hazelnut milk, you can remove their skins by soaking and rubbing them gently between clean kitchen towels. This makes for a less chalky texture and more flavor in the finished milk.
Soak your nuts overnight
Soaking softens the nuts, making their creamy-dreamy flavors more readily available after blending. Soaking also removes the nuts’ phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, making the nut milk reportedly easier to digest.
Soaking times will be impacted slightly by the size of your nuts. For example, peanuts require six hours, while large cashews really need at least 12 hours. But here’s something important to note: You cannot over-soak the nuts. Really! Soaking nuts for as long as 48 hours makes for tastier, more silky milk. So set your nuts to soak on Friday night and blend them whenever you have time on Saturday or Sunday.
Blending and straining nut milk
Post-soaking, drain and rinse your soaked nuts. Add them to a blender with fresh water for blending. The blender is the best tool for this job, but a food processor works too. Nut milk from a blender is just a bit creamier and sweeter.
After blending, I suggest straining for the most milk-like, drinkable nut milk. Some folks prefer to leave their nut milk unstrained, especially those with high-powered blenders, but note that unstrained milk will separate more in the fridge and will need to be mixed again before serving.
Do you need a nut milk bag?
You can use a nut milk bag to strain your pulp, but you don’t need one. You can use a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth as an easy alternative. You can also use a clean tea towel or clean panty hose (something thin with a loose weave like linen works best).
Uses for leftover nut pulp
Making nut milk at home leaves you with a unique (and useful and tasty) byproduct: the nut’s strained pulp. Whatever you do, don’t throw this away! You can freeze it — either in a zip-top bag or in ice trays — and pop it out to toss into smoothies. You can fold the nut pulp into quick-bread batters or pancakes or add it to warm oatmeal. My favorite use? Folding the nut pulp into granola before baking — it makes the clumpiest, crunchiest granola ever!
Dry nut meal.
You can also spread it out on a baking sheet and bake it in a low oven until completely dry (two to three hours). This dry nut meal can be kept frozen for several months and used in baked goods.
Recipe from The Kitchn, How to Make Any Nut Milk (Makes 2 cups)
Storing nut and grain milk
Leftover nut milk can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. If it separates, just shake to recombine. You can freeze nut and grain milks, but you will need to blend them when they thaw. They might be slightly grainy when defrosted, which you won’t notice in smoothies.
Nut and grain milk bags are not a necessity, but here is advice on how to choose one:
Large bags (12”x12” or bigger) make the most sense. If you are going to bother to make your own nut milk, you might as well make a big batch. While nylon bags are the most durable, I avoid buying plastic which will end up in landfills. You will probably prefer natural, unbleached organic fibers like cotton or hemp which have been grown without chemicals. Since you will be squeezing the milk out of the bag, choose a bag with two or three rows of reinforced stitching. Rounded edges are recommended by experts to let the milk flow faster.
This EcoPeaceful bag says that it the fabric, stitches, loop & drawstring are made from 100% certified organic cotton, undyed & unbleached. The band enclosure is FDA and LFGB food grade approved silicone, and it is sewn in the USA. The large bag is 12″x13″ with round corners for easier straining and cleaning. One bag, $7.99. Two bags $14.99.
Do you appreciate a good short-cut? This is a set of four nut and grain blends of ingredients for nut milks. You add water and blend them fresh at home. $20.00.
Nut and oat milk making set. Soak your main ingredient in one jar overnight. In the morning, drain the water, add more, and chop or blend the remainder through the opening in the silicone splash guard. Finally, put the filter on top and press down, just like with a French press coffee maker. Plant-Based Milk Making Set, $35
Store your nut milk in an airtight container. This one-liter glass jug has a top which twists into place to create a hermetic seal. It has an easy pour spout and a handle. $15.41
There are specialized machines to make it easy for you to churn out nut or grain-based milk. These two were launched on Kickstarter. This Almond Cow Machine requires you to soak the nuts for 12-14 hours in advance and then it produces the milk in 30 seconds. $195.
This NutraMilk luxury nut processor makes up to 67 ounces of non-dairy nut and grain milks in twelve minutes and also makes nut butters. No soaking of the nuts required. $499.95.
What about milk from cows?
A nutritionist at the The Cleveland Clinic compares the various non-dairy milk alternatives to cow’s milk. For some people, especially children, she advises that traditional cow’s milk provides a healthy balance of calories from fat, protein and essential vitamins and minerals, like vitamin D and calcium (especially important for older adults) and most milk sold in the US is fortified with Vitamin A. I read that milk from grass-fed cows and pasteurized with a low heat process is especially healthy.
Experts advise that unpasteurized (raw) milk is incorrectly credited with having more nutrients and fewer triggers for the lactose intolerance. It has the same nutritional content as pasteurized milk and the Centers for Disease Control reports that it is 150 times more likely to carry food-borne disease.