How to Make Your Own Nut Milk (and Why You Should)
Slowly but surely, the world is embracing nut milk for the incredible gift it is. Celebrity chef endorsements, the backing of major brands - all working wonders for plant-based alternatives to dairy products.
Decadently delicious and exceptionally versatile, nut milk is the ultimate pantry staple for the plant-based kitchen. Try it once and it won’t be long before you find yourself getting through gallons of the stuff on a monthly basis.
In which case, why not make your own?
Contrary to popular belief, making DIY nut milk at home is not just possible, but also surprisingly easy. It can be just as cost-effective as buying it, while at the same time giving your total control over what goes in. And if you thought homemade nut milk couldn’t possibly be as delicious as the commercially available stuff, think again - it’s absolutely gorgeous!
Arm yourself with a few basics and you’ll have everything you need to start your own nut milk adventure at home.
The Basics of Making Non-Dairy Milk at Home
Preparing nut milk is easy for the simple reason that it is inherently an extremely simple product. Across the board, the overwhelming majority of nut milks are made simply by blending nuts, grains and/or seeds with water, along with any other desired sweeteners or perhaps a pinch of salt.
The biggest difference between DIY nut milk and the stuff you buy in stores is the complete lack of additives and preservatives in the former of the two. Depending on the brand in question, nut milk often contains thickeners and longevity-extending additives for improved appeal and lifespan.
Some are also heated to streamline high temperatures before packaging as a preservation method, which in some instances can affect the flavour.
Making your own at home, no such ingredients make their way into the mix. Best of all, you don’t really need anything you probably don’t already have lying around the kitchen.
All it takes to knock up amazing nut milk at home is as follows:
- A powerful blender like a Nutribullet
- Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
- A sealed container to store it in
That really is all there is to it! You may have read that you need a special nut milk bag for straining the mixture, but this really isn’t the case at all. You can simply use a piece of cheesecloth or muslin and it will have exactly the same effect.
Likewise, if you have any concerns regarding the speed and power of your blender, you can still make your own nut milk by substituting the nuts/seeds for your preferred nut/seed butter. It’s not quite the same, but still gets the job done.
Choosing the Right Nuts
When selecting nuts for your homemade concoctions, don’t be tempted to cut corners on quality. Try to get by with old, dry and generally nasty nuts and that’s exactly what the resulting milk will be…nasty.
Raw, unsalted nuts are essential - organic if possible. Most recipes will still work with roasted nuts, and the roasting process can even add an extra punch of flavour to the whole thing. Though where possible, it’s best to toast your own nuts from raw, as doing so ensures that they are freshly toasted and deliver the biggest hit of flavour.
It’s also worth bearing in mind at this point that combining different types of nuts together is also possible. The quantity of nuts required to make nut milk does vary slightly from one type of nut to the next, but a bit of trial and error and you’ll soon hit the nail on the head.
There’s also nothing wrong with tossing a little toasted coconut into the mix, or even some sweetened cocoa for something seriously delicious.
Soaking Nuts and Seeds
This is an essential part of the process, as there are various compounds in nuts and seeds that are difficult to digest and practically impossible to blend. At least, until they have been soaked for the necessary amount of time to break them down and make them easier to deal with.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s always best to soak your nuts in plenty of fresh water overnight. Aim for around 12 hours, at which point you’ll probably see that the water has become cloudy. This indicates that the process has been successful - simply drain and rinse the nuts well, and you’ll be ready to go.
It is technically possible to make nut milk using nuts and seeds that haven’t been soaked. In fact, do so and you probably won’t notice any real difference with the flavour of the resulting product. Soaking is primarily about creating a smooth and silky milk with the right texture, which is naturally easier to digest.
Again, feel free to experiment with different methods and soaking times, if preferred.
Straining DIY Nut Milk
Irrespective of how intensively or extensively you blend your nuts, you will still end up with a mixture with a certain amount of grit and pulp. This is inevitable and to be expected, though is most noticeable when blending almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, and walnuts.
You can technically get away without straining if using macadamia nuts or pecans, but it’s still good to strain the mixture if you can for a more velvety and sumptuous texture.
As touched upon earlier, you really do not need to invest in a specialist nut milk bag. They can certainly be convenient, but are by no means mandatory. A typical piece of muslin or cheese cloth will get the job done just as well and it is much easier to find lying around the home.
The Key to Creamy Nut Milk
What’s great about this recipe is the way in which it gives you total control over just how creamy the resulting product is. The more nuts you use with the same amount of water, the creamier the final result.
If looking to recreate the flavour and feel of commercially available products, aim for a ratio of approximately 80g of nuts for every litre of water. Double the quantity of nuts using the same amount of water for a much thicker and creamier milk, which is fantastic in coffee or as a basis for smoothies. Step things up to 300g of nuts with the same litre of water and you’ll be looking at something closer to double cream in texture and mouth feel.
There’s limitless scope for experimentation and the texture of the product will be affected by the types of nuts and seeds you use. In all instances, the final product should be stored in a sealed jar and refrigerated as soon as possible, where it will stay fresh for at least five days or so.
Making DIY Nut Milk
With all that covered, here’s a brief summary of the basics of how to make your own nut milk at home.
- Minimum 80g of nuts, soaked overnight
- One litre of filtered water
- Pinch of salt or preferred sweeteners
- Place all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender with any optional extras you like, before blending on the highest speed for 90 seconds.
- Check the consistency at this point and blend once again, until the desired consistency has been reached.
- Use a piece of cheesecloth to strain the pump and general debris out of the mixture, as you pour it carefully into a jar or storage vessel. Press the mixture and twist the cloth to get as much of the milk as possible out of the remnants of the nuts.
- Store the milk in a sealed glass container in the fridge for up to five days, or freeze any excess in ice cube trays for use in smoothies and other recipes.
One of the most fantastic things about making your own nut milk is the way in which it paves the way for limitless experimentation. However, it’s important to remember that anything you add to the mix can and will make a difference to the consistency of the final product.
For example, coconut powder can be great for bringing a gorgeous punch of flavour to your nut milk, while at the same time resulting in a thicker consistency. The same can also be said for cocoa powder, or a couple of mashed bananas.
If unsure, you may find it easier to make your nut milk first and then get creative with the added extras afterwards. Though just as long as you’re happy with the result, it really doesn’t matter how thick or thin it comes out.