It's the product of the century and it's so easy to make at home. Back in the day, our lactose intolerant friends were limited to soy milk to replace their dairy. These days, we're seeing more and more people sensitive to cow's dairy (be it lactose or the major protein component, casein) and a trend ditching cow's milk generally. Whether you're on the dairy train or not, chances are you've heard of almond milk.
So why can't you just buy it from the shop?
The nut milks you buy from the shops - especially the unrefrigerated UHT packs - are often only 4-8% almonds/nuts. So, you're essentially paying a premium for water. More over, they are often sweetened with sugars and use carrageenan as a thickener, which can cause gut upset. Plus, they're super pricey ($3/L for UHT varieties and upwards of $9.99/L for organic refrigerated varieties). There are some really great products I've seen in fridge sections from local producers that use minimal or no added sugar, organic nuts and no added gunk like carrageenan. They're usually pricey, so I only tend to buy these if they are on special, or I know I've got a busy time ahead and making nut milk isn't on the cards. They also tend to last a little longer than fresh, homemade nut milk, so they're good options for single pringles who aren't keen on making frequent batches.
How do I use nut milk?
The same as you would use dairy milk. It even froths for coffee!
But it's so much easier to buy it!
I won't disagree here. However, it's probably not as hard to make as you think AND the taste of the homemade stuff is so much more creamy.
Nut Milk (makes about 1 Litre)
- 1 cup raw, unsalted nuts (preferably organic but not a disaster if they're conventional)
- 4 cups water plus extra for soaking
- pinch salt x 2
- 2 medjool dates, pitted, or 1Tbs rice malt syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract (optional)
You can use any nuts you like, or even a combination. I like to use cashews for extra creaminess, but they cost a bomb so I normally use them in combination with other ingredients. The key is to have 1 cup of dry ingredients to 4 cups of water. These things work well for milks: almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, hemp seeds, rolled oats.
If you've got a big family, just multiply the ratios above; nut milks freeze well, just pop them in sandwich zip lock bags, lay them flat and when you're ready, defrost in the fridge overnight and give it a shake in a jar or bottle. You can also freeze nut milk into ice cubes for easy additions to smoothies.
- In a bowl, cover your dry ingredients with filtered water and a pinch of salt. Leave to soak for at least 4 hours, or overnight. If you're using oats, they only need a couple of hours.
- Drain and thoroughly rinse the dry ingredients
- Pop the dry ingredients into a high-powered blender (a food processor won't cut it, sorry! You'll want to be using a bullet style blender, a whiz bang expensive blender, or a normal blender that doesn't get too hot if you leave it going for a few minutes as it'll take a bit longer in a regular old blender) with 4 cups filtered water, a pinch of salt, vanilla and the dates or rice malt syrup. We're recreating the taste of dairy, here, so while you don't have to use the vanilla or sweeteners, they mimic the richness and sweetness of the lactose in dairy
- Blend until smooth and a bit frothy
- You can buy purpose-made nut milk bags, but I just use some muslin that I double over. It's easy to rinse and you can chuck it in the washing machine, too. Whatever you decide to use, pop it over a large bowl and pour in the blended nuts.
- Bring the edges of the cloth to the centre, so you end up with a money bag of thick nut milk. Most of the liquid will go straight into the bowl, and you can get the rest out by gently squeezing your hand down the cloth. You want to end up with a mixture that is as dry as possible left in the bag.
- Congratulations, you've made nut milk AND nut meal! Transfer the liquid to a bottle or jar and refrigerate. It'll last for about 5 days in the fridge. You'll know it's turned when it starts to smell sour, like normal milk. It'l likely separate in the fridge, so just give it a shake before each use and it'll be just right.
- As for the nut meal/flour left in the cloth, you can dehydrate this in the oven or a dehydrator and keep it on hand to use in any recipe that calls for almond meal. Last time I made nut milk, I didn't bother dehydrating the nut meal, and instead made a banana loaf straight away - just reduce the amount of added liquid given the nut meal is a wetter mixture than normal.