Are you someone who prefers an alternative to dairy milk? Perhaps you are lactose intolerant, a vegan, or you just don’t like cows milk? There are lots of alternatives in the shops – all of which seem to come in drinks cartons, usually Tetra Pak, as far as I can tell. Mostly they contain a lot of sugar and additives and in any case, Tetra Pak is not an option when you want to avoid single-use plastic. The obvious solution is to make your own nut, oat, rice, hemp or soya milk, and until I had a go at this, I had no idea how easy it is. Here is an almond milk recipe from the Zero Waste Chef so you can check out the basic principle of soaking, blending and straining:
1 cup almonds, water
- Place almonds in a jar, cover with water and set aside for between 12 and 48 hours. Strain and rinse well.
- Add the almonds and 2 cups of fresh water to a blender or food processor and blend for a couple of minutes.
- Over a large bowl, place a sieve or colander lined with a fine-mesh cloth. Pour the almond mixture through. Gather up the edges of the cloth to form a ball and squeeze out as much almond milk as possible.
- If you wish to sweeten your almond milk, stir in maple syrup or honey, etc. To sweeten with a pitted date, return the milk to a clean blender, add the date and puree once again.
- Store almond milk in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to a few days.
These freshly made milks last a few days in the fridge and can be used with breakfast cereals, milk shakes and in cooking. They tend to curdle slightly if added cold to a hot drink. You can add vanilla, maple syrup or pitted dates at the blending stage to increase the sweetness, but nut milks tend to be naturally sweet. Many websites also give you recipes for using the squeezed out pulp, for example to make oat biscuits. Oats and rice milk are perhaps the quickest and cheapest options, but you do not need large quantities of the basic ingredients, so price is not really an issue (I am convinced that when we buy oat or soya milk in Tetra Pak cartons, the cost of the ingredients are miniscule compared to the packaging and transport). Cashews also lend themselves to making cream which is great to use in Indian cooking. Simply soak a handful of cashews in a cup of water for 10 minutes and then blend – no need to strain afterwards.
You will need a blender or food processor, a piece of muslin or cheese cloth, a funnel and glass bottles with lids. If you have a local unpackaged or zero waste food shop, you will be going along with your fabric bags to stock up on the ingredients. If not, it’s time to get searching as most cities have at least one zero-waste, bulk buy, or unpackaged food shop. Have a look here.
- Zero Waste Chef https://zerowastechef.com/2017/04/05/almond-milk/
- Or try this recipe with dates and vanilla: https://www.thespruceeats.com/raw-vegan-gluten-free-almond-milk-3377459
- Great recipe, no straining required: https://elanaspantry.com/cashew-milk/
- Also try Deliciously Ella’s mango and cashew smoothie while you’re at it: https://deliciouslyella.com/2014/04/27/mango-and-cashew-smoothie/
- I made this one this morning, 30mins soaking time only: https://simpleveganblog.com/how-to-make-oat-milk/
- Recipe with or without soaking the oats can be found in this article:
- Made with shelled hemp seed, this is a simple no-soak recipe, with or without straining https://minimalistbaker.com/make-hemp-milk/
- How to Make Soy Milk: A Korean Recipe https://www.thespruceeats.com/korean-homemade-soy-milk-recipe-2118535
- No cook rice milk from the Zero Waste Chef https://zerowastechef.com/2014/06/04/no-cook-rice-milk/
- Recipe with cooked brown rice, can be used whole or strained https://healthyblenderrecipes.com/recipes/home_made_brown_rice_milk