Make Your Own Milk

Fresh, nutritious, plant-based, gluten free, delicious milks can be a good part of your natural diet!

Making your own milk has so many positives and nearly no negatives.  In fact, the only thing that could possibly be considered a negative is the little bit of extra time you may spend making it.  However, when you discover that making it yourself results in creamy and delicious milks that not only rivals store-bought dairy and non-dairy milks, but far surpasses in flavor, quality, freshness, and nutrition, it really isn't a hard decision.

Some commercially-made non-dairy milks are boxed in aseptic packaging designed to last a long time on the shelf.  These can certainly have a place its place in  your pantry.  They're great for quick use or for traveling.   While freshly made milks are perishable and needing refrigeration, they do last a few days. 

Tricalcium phosphate is normally added to these commercially prepared products in order to boost the calcium content because the processing destroys many valuable nutrients.  Almonds especially are a great source of calcium along with many other vitamins, nutrients, minerals. and fiber.  And so it is with the variety of nuts, seeds, and grains that are available although  the amount and types of nutrients may vary.  Some of our favorite foods to make milk with include: cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, coconut, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower sees, and oats.  There are many varieties of nuts, seeds and grains to choose from and endless varieties of which to create.  Using a blender to emulsify the ingredients will not destroy precious nutrients, and if you soak your nuts, seeds and grains prior to blending, will only make nutrients more available for your body to use.

What about the other added ingredients that normally go into milk?  In the recipe that follows, you will see a short list of simple ingredients.  No mystery ingredients (ie. natural flavoring), no names of ingredients that you can't really pronounce.  Evaporated cane juice (sugar) is a common sweetener used, but if it doesn't say organic, then we try to steer clear of it.  Conventional sugar and some "natural" types have had all or some of its nutrients stripped in processing.  Conventional sugar  is also filtered using a bone char method which uses animal bones to bleach it creating its white color.  There are many other choices of sweeteners that are much healthier to use and are just as delicious and satisfying.

When making your milk, the use of certain ingredients may require the use of a strainer.  We have found that straining bags made of nylon or hemp are great for this job.  Some folks use a cheesecloth folded over several times to achieve the same effect.  Use whatever works for you to separate the pulp from the liquid, as it is needed.

Here is a simple and basic milk recipe.  This recipe is great for drinking straight, poured over cereals, blended into smoothies, used in recipes, or wherever you desire a sweeter milk.  If you prefer it plain, just reduce or omit the sweetener and flavoring extract. 

Basic Nut Milk Recipe
1 cup nuts, seeds, grains- or a combination
3-4 cups filtered water
2-4 Tbsp. agave nectar or 2-4 Medjool dates, pitted
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract or 1/4th vanilla bean, seeds scraped

Soak nuts, grains or seeds in filtered water for a couple of hours or more.  Drain and rinse then place in blender along with half the water.  Blend until completely smooth.  If you are using almonds, which have a lot of pulp, you'll find that straining it is a good idea.  If this is the case, the next step will be to strain before adding the remaining ingredients.  Other, softer-type ingredients such as cashews do not need any straining at all.  By the same token, certain ingredients like oats don't work to be strained and yet will continue to have a slightly grainy texture.  It also depends on how you blend it, but soaking does help to soften it lending to a smoother result.

If you have strained out the pulp, rinse the blender and put the liquid back in to the blender cup.  Add in the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  Add in more water to make a total of 5 cups.  Taste and adjust for thickness and sweetness until it is as you desire.  Place in a container, cover and refrigerate until needed.  Before serving or using, contents may settle so give it a stir or a shake first. 

For variation, make a chocolate-y health drink by adding 3 Tbsp. raw or toasted carob powder.

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