Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Demystifying Nut and Seed Milks

Often, I get asked, "How do you make it without eating dairy?" or, "You mean you can never have ice cream???" (followed by an I'm so sorry for you face).

Trust me. I do not live without! Check out this strawberry-banana milkshake I just made with my Pumpkin seed Milk:

But, doing dairy the non-dairy way came with it's hurdles to overcome.

First hurdle: Soaking nuts. The other day I went out to eat at a French/Vietnamese restaurant with my friend Elizabeth. Her comment (about recently reading my blog post about making milkshakes from cashews) was "I mean, soaking cashews over night?" Elizabeth's sentiments were mine exactly a couple years ago. I thought about how far I have come since the first time I heard about soaking cashews for milks/ creams. Both my husband and I thought it was weird. And I completely understand it when people think that making nut/ seed milks seems, well, "nuts" :)

It is a bit of a paradigm shift. To get creamy desserts or milks that are dairy-like you have to soak some nuts overnight (actually some nuts and seeds don't require soaking for very long or at all for a creamy end result...some folks soak for different reasons, i.e. enzyme inhibitors but that is all for another post :). It's quite simple, though. I just put out a bowl on my counter, fill it up with water, and then I strain and rinse the next morning and make something yummy or my milk for the week. This way seems to be a lot of work, but it isn't. And it's much cheaper than buying non-dairy milks from the store with added preservatives, etc.

Second hurdle: Planning. Obviously, you have to plan ahead so that you have enough milk on hand when you do your baking and your granola cereal eating. I don't just run out to the store and grab a carton of milk anymore. But I do usually only have to think of it the night before if I need almond or cashew milk.

Third hurdle: Equipment. Nut and seed milks (or any nut based non dairy product like whipped cream, pudding, etc) really work best being made in a high powered blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec (I use a Vitamix 5200). They can work in a food processor, but the end result will not be quite as creamy, slightly more watery in consistency. Another thing to have on hand is a nut milk bag. I have tried using a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth and I just can't get them to work as well. I was happy to find a nut milk bag, though, at my local organic grocery co-op for 89¢ ! You can also purchase them from Amazon . My Whole Foods only has cheesecloth, but yours may have these on hand as well.

Fourth hurdle: Proportions. I don't like writing recipes down. This drives my husband crazy. I have found, though that most seed or nut milks I make turn out pretty well with a 3:1 ration of water:nuts/seeds (volume- not weight).

So here is my general recipe for Non-Dairy Milks:
3 cups of water to 1 cup of one of the following options (I usually choose based on mood and what I have on hand :):
- raw cashews (soak overnight)
- raw almonds (soak overnight)
- raw pumpkin seeds (soak for about 30 min-1 hr)
- coconut flakes (unsulfured and unsweetened, and soaked for 2 hrs)
After the nuts or seeds have soaked, strain (I use a colander) and rinse. Then add the right amount of water, depending on how many nuts or seeds you soaked (I use filtered water). Blend on high for about 1 minute in a high powered blender, or 3 minutes or more in a food processor. Then pour through a nut milk bag. I fold mine over a quart-sized mason jar like so...
Then I let it strain and go do something else for about 10-15 minutes. Then I squeeze the remaining liquid out and save the pulp that's left inside the bag for other recipes. Optional- you can add vanilla, other flavors, cocoa or carob powder for chocolate milk, sweeteners like stevia or coconut nectar....the possibilities are endless!

I hope this has made it seem more simple to make your own non-dairy milks at home! If not, feel free to ask question or leave a comment :)

Happy non-dairy milk making,
Eryn

3 comments :

  1. This made me smile :)
    Okay, maybe I'll give it a try (that is a BIG maybe)... but a few q's- do you think an ordinary blender work (mine is Kitchen Aid)... and at which organic grocery co-op did you find the nut bag?

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  2. I found my nut milk bag at Life Grocery here in Marietta, but I'm pretty sure Dekalb would have one and possibly the WF near you. Also, a Kitchen Aid might work- let me know how it goes! Also- so jealous about Paris!

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