Why buy nondairy milk from the store when you can easily and inexpensively make your own from nuts, seeds and grains? Below are four step-by-step recipes for making almond, pecan, oat and rice milks.
Why nondairy milk? Why would a person want to make their own nondairy milk, you ask? Ah, there are many reasons. While most grocery stores today carry a wide variety of nondairy milks, it remains a challenge to find them without oil, salt and sugar. This is the main reason I make my own most of the time, because I know what I’m getting. Additionally, the milks I make at home taste great and save me a bit of money. Making your own nondairy milk takes more time than picking it up from the store shelf, but they are easy to make once you get the hang of it. Now, if you’re wondering why it’s healthier to consume nondairy milks in the first place (as opposed to cow’s milk), you can read about that here.
Strainers: All of the recipes below require a fine strainer to thoroughly separate the milk from the ground nuts or grains (after soaking and blending). I like to use a nut-milk bag, made just for this purpose, which costs around $8 per bag. You can often find nut-milk bags at health food stores but they are easily ordered online as well. I like my nylon nut-milk bag because it’s sturdy and is easy to wash (be sure to wash right after using, turning it inside out a couple times to get all the bits out).
Blenders and storage: As for blenders, any type will work. I prefer to use my high-speed blender (like a Vitamix) but a standard blender will work well too. For storing your nondairy milk, I like to use a 32-oz. mason jar. I like these big jars because they are glass, they hold a lot of liquid, they are easy to pour from, and their wide mouths make them a breeze to wash.
Flavor: While almond and pecan milks are perfectly flavored all on their own, other milks such as rice and oat are a little less flavorful, not to mention that they have less fat in them, so they are less rich. To boost the flavor of any nondairy milk, you may add some vanilla extract and/or cinnamon (which I have noted below in each recipe as optional), or anything you like. Experiment and find the balance of flavor and richness that suits you.
Uses: I mostly use nondairy milks on my oatmeal or other hot grain cereals in the morning, over fruit, in baking, or in sauces and creamy soups. I don’t often drink a glass of nondairy milk, but use it more as a condiment. Nut and seed milks are higher in fat than grain milks, so you may want to keep this in mind if you are trying to reduce your calorie intake.
Many options: There are many ways to go about making nondairy milks, and I have attempted to present the easiest methods here. I have started with just four types of nondairy milk: almond, pecan, oat, and rice. These milks will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator (shake before using).
ALMOND OR PECAN MILK
My favorite nuts to use for nondairy milks are almond and pecan. They have a naturally sweet flavor and are bright white in color, which makes them an excellent first-time nondairy milk choice for people who have only ever had cow’s milk.
½ cup pecans or almonds (skin-on is fine), 2½ ounces
1 cup water (for soaking)
4 cups water (for blending)
1. Place the nuts and 1 cup of water into a bowl, cover and let soak overnight (in the refrigerator if it’s hot weather).
2. In the morning, drain off and discard the soak water, and place the nuts into a blender with 4 cups of fresh water. Blend on high speed for 30 to 60 seconds, until the nuts are thoroughly broken down.
3. Hold a nut-milk bag over a large bowl, and pour the water-nut mixture through the bag. Squeeze the bag (gently at first when full), wringing until all the water has filtered through and only the dry, chalky pulp is left. Discard the pulp (or see Notes below).
4. Pour the bowl of milk into a 32-ounce Mason jar or other container. Taste it, and if it’s too rich for your taste, add some water; if it’s not rich enough, make a note for next time to use less water. It will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator. The milk will have separated after sitting, so be sure to shake it well before using.
Preparation: about 10 minutes (not counting overnight soak time)
Cooking: 0 minutes
Makes: about 4 cups
I don’t usually save my pulp, but if you’re interested in finding a use for yours, search “uses for nut milk pulp” online.
Other nuts and seeds also work. For other nuts, try walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, and cashews. For seeds, try sunflower, sesame, and hemp. Use the same process above, and find the balance of water and nuts/seeds that tastes best to you.
OAT OR RICE MILK
The difference between nut/seed milks and grain milks is that grain milk is not as rich and high in fat calories, and the color is not as white. On the plus side, grain milks are cheaper to make than nut milks, and they are a great option for people who must avoid nuts and/or seeds in their diet. The recipe below explains how to make oat milk, with instructions on how to make rice milk in step 5.
¼ cup uncooked steel-cut oats, rinsed
4 cups water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (or seeds from ½ vanilla bean)
1. Place the oats and water into a blender, and set aside for at least 15 minutes.
2. Blend on high speed for 20 to 30 seconds.
3. Hold a nut milk bag over a large bowl, and pour the water-oat mixture through the bag. Squeeze the bag (gently at first when full), wringing until all the water has filtered through. Discard any pulp or residue.
4. Pour the bowl of oat milk into a 32-ounce Mason jar (or other storage container). Taste it, and if it’s too rich or thick add some water; or if it’s not rich or thick enough, make a note for next time to add less water. Add the vanilla extract or vanilla bean seeds, and stir. Keeps for about 5 days in the refrigerator. The milk will have separated after sitting, so shake it well before using.
5. To make rice milk, (1) use 1 cup cooked brown rice (see Notes) with 6 cups water; (2) blend immediately (soaking is not necessary); and (3) after straining, pour into 2 Mason jars.
Preparation: about 20 minutes
Cooking: 0 minutes
Makes: 4 cups oat milk; 6 cups rice milk
To make 1 cup of cooked brown rice, bring 1 cup of water and ½ cup of brown rice to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes (for long-grain rice) or 50 minutes (for short-grain rice).
Above: Rice milk in a 32-oz. mason jar, and a synthetic nut-milk bag.
Above: rice milk