Nutty milk

a glass of full cream nutty milk

I have started to experiment with nut milks in order to cut my dairy intake without missing out on the texture and flavour of cow’s milk. I will still have full cream milk in my coffee [I do love my caffeine], and eat butter [my disdain for margarine deserves a post all of its own] and some cheese, but I figure this small action will still do my body good.

Of course, nut milk is only one option. There is soy milk, but recent reading tells me that may not be the best alternative, due to the presence of anti-nutrients and toxins in non-fermented soy products. I find rice milk to be too watery and bland; I may as well drink water instead. And have you ever tried orange juice on muesli? I have; it’s not delicious.

So why am I avoiding cow’s milk? It makes me feel gluggy. Simple as that.

Humans are the only living creature to drink the milk of another animal, or to drink animal-derived milk post infancy. I never really understood this – except for reasons relating to taste. I stopped being vegan over 10 years ago because of cheese.

Aside from the facts that pasteurised milk is a heavily processed product that is difficult for humans to digest and all of the nutrients within milk are readily available elsewhere, my reading (eg. via FormerFatGuy.com and The Guardian) also suggests that drinking milk can facilitate iron loss and some of the nutrients within milk (like phosphorus) actually combat the absorption of calcium, the main nutritional ‘benefit’ for which milk is so highly prized. Cow’s milk is expensive to produce, environmentally speaking, but I have not yet compared its cost/sustainability to production of the crops used as the basis for nut, legume and seed milks.

Books such as Don’t Drink Your Milk! and The Devil in the Milk give many more points to ponder. There is far more information on the international network as to why you should avoid milk, particularly if it has been pasteurised, and you will also find many counterarguments in cyberspace. To milk or not to milk is a very personal and emotional question indeed.

What is nut milk exactly? As wiseGEEK states, nut milk is basically ground nuts combined with water, and potentially other flavourings. Nut milk has been around since at least the 14th century, as this recipe attests.

about to strain

Here are a couple more recipes – cut-and-pasted from my Google search, which revealed 854,000 related entries!

  • wikiHow makes creating nut milk look so easy – which it absolutely is.
  • This eHow page is a great resource on how to make any raw nut milk from scratch.

The recipe to follow is my own invention, based on the reading I could find online, and I am very happy with my finished product.

Recipe #81: Almond & macadamia milk. Makes approx. 1.3 litres. Keeps for up to 3 days. You will need to have either a nutbag (a cloth bag used for straining) or a fine chinois on hand as a normal strainer just won’t cut the mustard.

This is what I used:
► 2½ cups nuts [I used 1½ cups of blanched almonds and 1 cup of macadamias. You can use nuts with their skins – the choice is yours]
► 5 cups cold water, plus extra for soaking
► ½ tsp vanilla bean paste [or scrape the seeds out of one vanilla pod. Don’t substitute with vanilla essence]

Cover the nuts in cold water and soak overnight.

  • Soaking is optional; I did this for two reasons: (1) to make the blending process easier & more efficient; and (2) I didn’t know how the macadamias or almonds had been treated – I figured that, by soaking the nuts then discarding the soaking water, I would get rid of many invisible nasties.
  • Some recipes call for soaking in boiling hot water. I used cold water to keep the nuts as raw as possible, in keeping with my new foodly philosophy.

To make the milk, discard the soaking water and add the 5 cups of fresh, cold water to the nuts in a blender/Thermomix. Blend on high speed until very finely pureed (around 30 seconds in the Thermomix), then add the vanilla and blend on high for 10 more seconds.

vanillifying the nut milk

Strain your milk into a jug or bowl using a nut bag or fine chinois.

straining the nut milk

Store in a bottle or jug – you may need to shake or stir the milk prior to each use – and use as you would cow’s or soy milk.

the end-to-end nut milk creation process

The end result looks very creamy and similar to cow’s milk, but it doesn’t taste the same. My little one loves the milk on his cereal yet won’t drink it by itself.

in spite of its moviestar good looks, it tastes nought like cow's milk

You will have a fair quantity of nut pulp leftover from this recipe. Restrain the pulp to extract as much milk as possible, then save it for use in cookies, cakes and green smoothies. Nothing goes to waste in this recipe.

nutty pulp

Please let me know if you try this – I would love to hear what you think of it.

H 🙂

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Steph says:

    Don’t cats, dogs, pigs also drink milk?

    I googled it and came up with this. What it seems to say is that is no real consensus. http://www.gymjunkies.com/the-truth-about-milk.

    1. Hannah says:

      Thanks for your comment, Steph.

      You’re right. Domesticated animals do drink milk from other animals – because we feed it to them. A vet chided me years ago for giving milk to my cat. Apparently it scars the digestive tract.

      That said, the health value of cow’s milk is a very controversial topic and I know I have much still to learn. I appreciate your research!

      H 🙂

  2. SarahVino says:

    Oh I LOVE Nut Milk!! However I have only bought it, but still would love to make my own I didn’t know it was easy. Love almond milk. I always add cinnamon. Quinoa milk is really good too and super healthy, but $8 for a litre at the health store… Thanks for sharing!!!

  3. I’ve known about it for some time now, and enjoyed it in smoothies more than once, but hearing about nut milk makes me feel about 10, because ”nut milk’ and ‘nutbag’ and variations on these still make me want to giggle. Or at least smirk.

    Giggling aside, I was very interested to see this process. My milk intake is limited to occasionally putting some in my coffee, so I have no need to substitute my milk for anything as I just don’t use it, but nonetheless I will be interested to see how you will explore this new path!

  4. Hannah says:

    Great tip, Sarah! I will try cinnamon in my next batch – and maybe also add quinoa for good measure.

    Thanks for stopping by, Conor – and glad you could stop giggling for long enough to leave a comment 🙂 I was the same as you, in terms of not using much milk, until little one came along. I’m so glad he likes this on his cereal, and it tastes lovely on my morning muesli!

    H 🙂

  5. Matthew Sforcina says:

    That’s Nuts!

    [pun intended]

    1. Hannah says:

      Nice one, Matty.

      H 🙂

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