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).
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.Print
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.Print
Above: Pecan milk (left) with plums is more golden in color, while the almond milk (right) is much whiter.
Above: Rice milk in a 32-oz. mason jar, and a synthetic nut-milk bag.
Above: rice milk