The human body has no more need for cow’s milk than it does for dog’s milk, horse’s milk or giraffe’s milk.Dr Michael Klaper
For years, I had been an unhealthy carb and dairy vegetarian, ironically eating few fruits and vegetables.
One of the biggest challenges with embracing plant-based eating was giving up dairy.
Not that dairy and I ever really got along in the first place!
As a young kid, I had a milk allergy that lasted until I was in school. I remember my mum buying goats’ milk in a tin, which was likely all that was available at the time. I can still remember how goaty-gross it was.
Truth is, beyond infancy, humans don’t need milk, of any kind, at all!
Buuuut, I like milky drinks.
Fast forward to 2019 and finding plant-based food is easier than ever, especially when it comes to milk substitutes.
While it’s not hard to find substitutes for dairy, actually enjoying them is another matter! Some brands are ridiculously sweet, the health benefit of the milk void by all the sugar! Others are so watery there’s no pleasant mouthfeel at all.
Then there’s the price. Three dollars a litre for the ordinary stuff in tetra packs that you can keep in the cupboard, and up to six dollars a litre for more premium brands, organic nut
I attempted making my own nut milk, but I was astonished at the waste. It seemed all the nutty goodness ended up in the straining bag.
“Use the excess nut pulp in muffins!” the recipes would cheerfully recommend. I put my pulp in the freezer, awaiting the moment I would have a use for an ingredient which had already had all flavour literally squeezed out of it.
I ended up adding it to my nut
Could I make a nut milk that used the whole nuts?
No soaking? No straining? No fuss?
I began experimenting.
I wanted easy, creamy nut milk that tasted great, with as little waste as possible.
First, I tried blending almond butter with water. It didn’t taste great. But, it worked… for about half an hour until the milk “split” the water quickly separated from the almond.
I should have realised I needed an emulsifier, something that will bond the oily nut solids to water. Luckily, I had the perfect solution already in the pantry…
Soy lecithin works as an emulsifier by breaking down the oils into smaller particles. It is extracted from soybean oil and contains calories, fat, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins E and K, and choline. Soy lecithin can assist in reducing cholesterol levels while boosting the brain’s function.
I have used soy lecithin here, but will likely switch to sunflower lecithin once I have used my stash up. If you have a soy sensitivity or want to avoid possible genetically modified soy, use the sunflower lecithin. Sunflower lecithin is extracted without the chemical process that soy goes through, so it’s worth considering. Sunflower lecithin is, of course, harder to find and more expensive than soy lecithin. I have read varying reviews on the taste, so please let me know what you think if you have tried it for yourself.
You might also be a bit surprised by my choice of sweetener for this recipe, but I urge you to give it a try! Mesquite powder, ground from the pod of the mesquite tree, is an ingredient traditionally used in Tex Mex and BBQ cooking.
Mesquite powder is high in soluble fibre, meaning it blends well with the milk, can make you feel fuller for longer and it won’t cause blood sugar spikes. Mesquite is also gluten-free, has a low glycemic index (25), high in protein with measurable amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.
So a few disasters and a few wins later, I think I’ve got it!
“Instant” Nut Milk Concentrate (makes 10 litres)
- 150g cashews
- 100g blanched almonds (skins off)
- 50g macadamias
- 2 tablespoons of soy lecithin granules
- OPTIONAL: 1 tablespoon of mesquite powder to sweeten
I start by blending the macadamia nuts with the soy lecithin granules. Pause to scrape down the sides of the blender to ensure the smoothest mix.
Once you have a fine paste, add the blanched almonds and blend until smooth, finally add the cashews and the mesquite powder if you wish to sweeten your batch of nut milk (you can always add it when you blend the milk concentrate with the water)
You will need a powerful blender and a bit of patience to get a smooth paste. Take a sample of your paste from the blend it and just smear a little between your forefinger and thumb. If it feels grainy, keep blending. It might be a bit crumbly, that is fine.
When you are satisfied that all ingredients have smoothly blended, scrape your paste into a sterilized jar and keep in the fridge until needed.
This concentrate is essentially a nut paste and should keep in the fridge for a few months. However, any moisture that finds it’s way in the mix will cause it to spoil. Discard if you notice any mould or fuzzy bits in your jar.
Preparing your Nut Milk from concentrate.
Boil a litre of water and cool to room temperature. Add 30g (about a dessertspoonful) of the nut milk concentrate to your blender, then add the litre of water. Blend for at least a minute until the milk is frothy and no lumps of the concentrate remain. Decant milk into a clean bottle (you can use a fine sieve to catch any largish particles if you wish) and keep in the refrigerator. The milk will stay fresh for 5-6 days.
You may notice after a few hours a fine layer of sediment settles at the bottom of the bottle. A quick shake before use will re-incorporate the mix.
The best part is, this recipe makes 10 litres of raw, whole nut milk. If you want richer milk, you can play with the recommended quantities. Add more or less to taste.
This whole nut milk froths nicely for your hot drinks, it is cost effective (even when using premium, organic raw ingredients) and there is no waste. No tetra packs!
Just 10 litres of nut milk, ready to go, any time you need!
Milky drinks have typically been my gateway to sugar and lots of coffee. I have included a few recipes below that are a bit different to your typical flavoured
Melt 50g of vegan dark chocolate, or more to taste (check the label for milk solids) and add to 200ml of warmed nut milk and blend 30 seconds. Sweeten to taste.
I like to top my Hot chocolate with a little cinnamon or even a pinch of chilli powder for kicks!
Green (Pandan & Vanilla) Milk.
I make this for my boys, as they are huge fans of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. During his self-imposed exile on the planet Achc-To, Luke Skywalker harvested the green milk from the
I’m hoping my version is tastier.
And I’m sure its easier to make! Pandan has a distinct flavour, grassy-vanilla-nutty that works really well with the nut milk flavour. Add a few drops each of pandan extract and vanilla essence to the nut milk, stir and serve.
Hot brew a litre of Dandelion tea, using 4-5 bags or more if you want a strong flavour for 5 minutes. Blend the hot tea with the nut milk concentrate and extra mesquite powder for sweetness, and chill.
I have to admit, this one is an acquired taste! My kids will tell you it tastes like milky dirt. More for me!
I would love to know what you think of this recipe, please be sure to leave me a comment after you’ve tried it for yourself!