When you start experimenting with all the possibilities, variations and different tastes of plant milks, you’ll soon forget that once upon a time you only ever used to put cow’s milk on your morning Corn Flakes. Nowadays, most health-food or whole-food stores sell almost every type of plant milk imaginable. We are no longer stuck with plain old soya milk or nothing. The store shelves are lined with everything from exotic macadamia nut milk to simple rice milk. Yet in my opinion, nothing beats homemade and there’s something satisfying about making your own. Best of all you can be sure that there won’t be any unwanted gums, thickeners or sneaky sweeteners hidden inside.
To make plant milk you will need:
Nut milk bag or piece of muslin (cheesecloth)
Glass bowl (on which to put the sieve)
Glass bottle or jar with lid (for storage)
The recipe and method for making most milks is basically the same. A ratio of 1:4:
½ cup nuts/seeds/grains
2 cups water
The method is always the same (apart from a few milks that don’t need to be strained).
With almost all the plant milks you will need to soak the nuts, seeds and grains beforehand. Here’s why: Nuts, seeds, grains and legumes contain enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid, sometimes known as “anti-nutrients”, because they can interfere with the absorption of iron, zinc and calcium. These enzyme inhibitors can also make the foods in which they are present hard to digest. It’s not all doom and gloom though. There is evidence that phytic acid is actually beneficial to our health. Soaking releases these pesky enzyme inhibitors and sprouting helps further reduce them. Do not use the soaking water for your milk as it contains all the enzyme inhibitors that you wanted to get rid of in the first place.
Rinse your soaked nuts, seeds or grains and blend them together with fresh water for a couple of minutes or until smooth.
Now it’s time to strain your milk. There are two ways of doing this; with a nut milk bag or through a large piece of muslin (cheesecloth). Cheesecloth works just fine if that’s all you have, but if you’re going to be making plant milk regularly, I recommend investing in a nut milk bag. They aren’t expensive and you can easily find one on Amazon.
Place your bag or piece of cheesecloth over a large strainer sitting on a large bowl (to collect the milk).
Pour the contents of the blender into the open bag/onto the piece of cheesecloth. Now close the bag or gather the cheesecloth from the sides and squeeze from the top downwards. (This is where the bag is easier.)
When you have squeezed the pulp as dry as you can, put it to one side and pour your milk from the bowl into a glass jar or bottle, close it tightly with a lid and store in the fridge.
Freshly-made plant milk is best consumed within 2-3 days.
Jazzing up your milk Here’s where you can have fun and experiment with different tastes. You can keep it simple or jazz it up with some funky ingredients. Maybe you like your milk a little sweeter. Add a pitted date or two and blend well. Or add a teaspoon of maple syrup or wild honey, or how about molasses?
Cacao and carob instantly turn your milk into a chocolaty drink, vanilla extract always gives a nice homely feel to the milk (homely? Yep.) And cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, cayenne are all great spices to experiment with! Ever thought of trying cacao, vanilla and cayenne together? It’s delicious!
Here are some basic recipes that I use. But by no means do you have to stick to them. Get adventurous and have fun experimenting!
Contrary to what many people think, buckwheat is not a cereal grain & it’s not related to wheat either. Buckwheat is a gluten-free seed which like quinoa, contains all of the 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
Just when you thought that there was nothing more delicious than Brazil nut milk, along comes hazelnut milk…. This silky milk has the unmistakable nutty taste of hazelnuts and in my opinion is absolutely divine!
When I realise I'm out of milk and haven't got time to soak nuts, seeds or grains for a new batch, hemp milk is the one I make. But this is definitely not a compromise. On the contrary, hemp seeds might be little but they are brimming with nutrition.
Quinoa, (pronounced KEEN-wah) native to South America, is a gluten-free pseudo-grain; a high-protein, high-fibre seed which has grain-like characteristics. It contains all of the 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
Sesame seeds are a great source of calcium, iron & magnesium & sesame milk is a delicious way of incorporating them into your diet. This milk is rich & creamy. It’s yummy on cereal or delicious as a beverage.
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