This nut milk has been on my to-do list since last May. I’ve done a few nut milks but never had the chance to write about it at the right time. What I love about nut milk is that they are dairy-free, totally nutritious with no hormones or antibiotics and they’re gentle on the stomach. Being homemade, they are also healthier with no added sugars, starches and emulsifiers. They are very alkaline most especially when you soak the nuts which are always recommended. I do really have problems with milk as I’m lactose intolerant. Although when it comes to desserts containing milk, that’s a different story.
When I first made my own nut milk, I thought it would take much of my time. But it didn’t. I just pour my liquefied nuts through a fine strainer lined with a cheesecloth and I used a ladle to press onto the solids to extract the nut liquid. But in the end, I did use my hands to squeeze out the excess liquid from the nut pulp.
There are actually four ways in making nut milk. This post is the soaking method which is the most popular way in raw food preparations.
The Soaking Process
Soaking nuts overnight activates the dormant enzymes which are highly beneficial for digestion, energy and nutrition. When you soak grains and legumes, the enzymes and its nutrients (vitamins, minerals, proteins, and essential fatty acids) multiplies exponentially. It’s the same thing when soaking nuts and seeds. There’s so much power and energy when they enter our body. Those hard-to-digest fats in nuts and seeds are converted into fatty acids when you soak them.
Although others don’t even bother with these preliminary preparations and even if soaking doesn’t have any scientific proof to defend its greater digestibility or activating its inactive enzymes, it does help when you soak them as soaking softens the nut and they are more easily blended into milk. On the other hand, I would rather believe that soaking does deactivate enzyme inhibitors by making these enzymes more active and readily available. Sunflower seeds can be sprouted, so why not with nuts?
How long should you soak nuts? It all depends on the density of the nut. The denser the nut the longer it will take to soak. Almonds take about 10-14 hours to soak. Hazelnuts would take about 8-10 hours, followed by pecans, walnuts and Brazil nuts at 4-6 hours. Less are required for cashews and macadamia nuts.
The Base - Nuts
The type of nuts you use for your nut milk depends on your taste. I always do walnut milk because my sister gave me a huge bag of it. I really love almond milk but macadamia, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans walnuts or pine nuts are also great. I’m still undecided which nut milk is my favorite. Pistachios would be great too but they are always in salted form. And I like to eat pistachios than blending them into nut milk. You can also blend two or three different types of nut to create your own nut milk blend. Just remember that when you make your own nut milk, they won’t taste the way you expect them to be. But once you’ve tasted it, you’ll just love it. But since nuts are expensive, I don’t make them on a daily basis.
Sweeteners and Flavorings
Sweeteners and flavorings adds flavor to your basic nut milk. For sweeteners, you can use dried whole dates, maple syrup, raw, unfiltered honey, stevia (liquid dried or leaf form) , agave nectar or brown rice syrup. The flavorings could be fresh vanilla bean or vanilla extract, almond extract, spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom or the spice used in making chai, some fresh fruits, raw cocoa powder or carob powder.
Straining the Nut Milk
After blending, here are two ways to strain your nut milk:
Through a milk bag – place/insert the nut milk bag onto a wide mouth pitcher and pour your nut milk. Then squeeze out the liquid into the pitcher.
Through a fine mesh strainer lined with a cheesecloth – pour the nut milk into the strainer. Press the solids in a circular motion with a ladle until the liquid has passed through. Then gather all four corners of the cheesecloth and slowly lift and squeeze the liquid. Although for ultra smoothness of the nut milk, just allow the nut milk to drain without using a ladle.
Sometimes, I only use the strainer to strain the mixture if I’m just too lazy to squeeze the cheesecloth but I noticed that the tiny nut particles are irritating my throat. For the some people, straining is not necessary most especially if they are making smoothies out of it.
Utilizing Nut Pulp
After straining the nut milk, you are left with an irregular mold of nut pulp. Since nuts are expensive, you can reserve them in making other recipes. Here are some few suggestions of what to do with the nut pulp:
Nut flour – the pulp is spread on a nonstick drying sheet on a dehydrator shelf and dehydrated at 105 Fahrenheit for 24 hours or until completely dry. They are transferred to a food processor and grind into a silky flour.
Raw cookies/crackers – they are processed with other ingredients such as nut butter, shredded coconut, some dates or even flax seed and many others. They are shaped into a cookie or spread on a nonstick drying sheet for crackers. They are also dehydrated for a few hours.
Cereal – simply place the pulp onto a bowl and serve with yogurt and honey and shavings of dark chocolate.
Raw cheese – they are mixed with nutritional yeast and other flavorings. Think of it as similar to ricotta cheese.
Smoothie – a few tablespoons are added when making smoothies for added protein and fiber.
Body Scrub – it’s a skin softener and body exfoliator. Add some almond or jojoba oil and a few drops of essential oil such as lavender or rose for extra skin smoothness. I haven’t tried it though.
Others – you can also use the nut pulp as an additional ingredient for making croquettes, bean burgers, meatballs or meatball as well as a filling for cinnamon buns, etc.
Homemade Nut Milk
1 cup raw organic almonds or other nuts, soaked for 10-12 hours, drained and rinsed well
2-3 cups filtered water
Before making the almond milk, line a large sieve with a double thickness of cheesecloth and place over a bowl.
To make the almond milk, combine the almonds and 1-½ cups of water in a high-speed blender and blend until creamy. Pour the almond mixture into the sieve and let drain. Then grab the corners of the cheesecloth, holding it together securely and squeeze the cheesecloth to extract all of the milk.
Return the nut pulp back into the blender and add enough liquid to cover the pulp. Blend again adding more liquid to liquefy the mixture if necessary. Strain the liquid and squeeze the cheesecloth to extract all of the milk.
Transfer the milk to a covered glass container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reserve the pulp for another use.
Serve hot or cold.
Stir the milk before serving because will separate as they are stored in the fridge.
The ratio of nut to water is 1:2 but it all depends on how thick or thin the consistency of the milk you want to achieve.
I started with 1-½ cups of water or even less because it’s better to add less in the beginning rather adding way too much water.
I blended the nut pulp the second time with tepid water or slightly hotter than that to extract more of its goodness. (it's optional)
If I’m using dried whole dates that have been soaked, I put the nut milk back in the blender and blend it along with the softened dates. Agave nectar is easily dissolved even when the nut milk is cold.
I actually did something “un-raw” to the nut milk by serving it hot. Bring the nut milk to a simmer without boiling until hot and sweeten with agave nectar or your choice of sweetener. Although Brazil nut milk will split if you heat them up. But I didn't have any problems with almond and walnut milk. Just make sure to stir them. This also reminds me of eating glutinous rice balls in walnut milk at Chinese restaurants. It has been raining these past few days, so a good cup of warm nut milk is always comforting and relaxing most especially before bedtime.
This warm nut milk would be great with some Mochi with Peanut Butter Filling by Penny of Jeroxie (Addictive & Consuming). I think Penny will make the Chocolate Mochi with Chocolate Truffles soon or was it supposed to be me? This nut milk would also be great with Sweet Potato Balls by Mary Moh of Keep Learning Keep Smiling.
Have you made your own nut milk at home? Which nut milk is your favorite? It would be great to hear from you.