If you are allergic or sensitive to dairy or you’re trying to follow a vegan diet, it can be hard to find a suitable substitute that provides the creaminess of milk. In the past, soy milk has been touted as a good alternative; however, in light of information linking it to hormonal problems, soy may not be the healthiest option.
If you’re craving milk—without the milk—nut milk could be a healthy and delicious alternative.
Nut milk—sometimes referred to as nut mylk, to distinguish it from animal milk—is the liquid that results when nuts are blended with water. Nut milk comes in many varieties; just about any nut can be made into milk, but the most popular nut milks are almond milk, hemp milk, and hazelnut milk.
Nut milk can be a substitute for dairy milk in almost any recipe. Enjoy it straight out of the glass, over cereal, in smoothies, or make cheese out of it. Most grocery stores carry a basic selection of nut milks such as almond milk and hemp milk. They come in cardboard containers and can be found alongside the soy milk. These nut milks are good in a pinch, but they do contain some unnecessary added sweeteners and other ingredients to make them shelf stable. If you want to enjoy delicious and nutritious nut milk, it’s best to make your own.
Making Nut Milk
Nut milk is so easy to make that it’s a wonder anyone will pay the large price tag for a small carton of it in the store. Furthermore, homemade nut milk is creamier and more flavorful than the boxed variety.
To make nut milk:
- Soak the nuts in water (see chart below) and then discard the soak water and rinse the nuts until the water runs clear.
- Blend the nuts with water in a high-speed blender for 1 to 2 minutes. Most nuts require a ratio of one part nuts to four parts water, but you can decrease the amount of water for creamier milk. (See chart below.)
- Strain the mixture through a strainer, nut milk bag, or cheesecloth into a bowl. (You can reserve the pulp for other uses.)
- Rinse the blender and return the milk to the blender.
- Add a dash of sweetener (such as agave nectar), a dash of vanilla, and a pinch of salt and blend thoroughly.
- Fresh nut milk will keep for 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator.
There are several ways to handle the leftover pulp:
- Make flour: Spread the pulp on a cookie sheet or dehydrator tray and place it in the oven (at a very low temperature) or dehydrator to dry it out. Run the dry pulp through the blender or a food processor to break up any clumps. Store your nut flour in the refrigerator or freezer to preserve freshness, as nut flours will become rancid quickly at room temperature.
- Make dessert: Get creative. The nut pulp makes a wonderful crust for a cheesecake. You can also use it for cookies and bread. It provides a wonderful alternative for other flours and allows you to create gluten-free desserts.
- Freeze it: If you’re pressed for time or just not sure how you want to use your nut pulp, toss it in the freezer. Later, you can defrost it and make flour out of it or use it for a dessert.