Nutritionist Micki Rose shows us how to make dairy-free milks at home
Given the latest concerns about arsenic in rice base products (Ed: see Micki's articles about arsenic and rice and what you can do about it written after the last arsenic 'panic') one way to be certain you avoid arsenic-laden rice milk is to choose rice from the safest countries and make it yourself.
But why stop at rice? It’s easy, quick and cheap to make your own plant milks and you can freeze batches so you always have some available. Importantly, you are in total control of what goes into them. You don’t have to worry about ingredients such as carageenan, excess sugar, salt, sweeteners or oil, contamination with other allergens or non-recyclable plastic and aluminium-lined packaging.
Shop-bought milks can be a god-send if you’re stretched for time. You can buy ready-made soya, coconut, rice, almond, hazelnut, potato, oat and quinoa milks easily now. Powdered milks like EcoMIL are great standbys, especially for holidays – just remember to label it as milk so customs don’t have a fit when they see a bag of powder in your suitcase! Search the freefrom food links for ideas and stockists.
But, truly, making your own milk can be really fast. Don’t believe me? Look at these:
Blend a tablespoon of a nut or seed butter, or tahini, with a cup of water and, hey presto, instant milk. Not got any butters? Make you own by blending whatever nuts or seeds you have with a dash of water or oil. Simple.
Fast Rice Milk
Blend left-over cooked rice or any other grain in a 3:1 ratio with warm water and add a teaspoon of vanilla extract or dash of agave. Use immediately or let it sit for half an hour, then pour off the top milk leaving the sediment in the bottom.
Step By Step Basic Method
Convinced? All you need in your DIY Dairy is a couple of minutes, a blender, jug, fine sieve and a bottle. You can make milk from most grains, nuts, seeds, pulses like soya and mung beans, and plant tubers like potato and tiger nuts. They are all basically made the same way and you can mix and match ingredients to your heart’s content.
- Choose Your Basic Ingredients
Grains (cooked): rice, amaranth, millet, quinoa, barley, oats
Pulses: soya beans, mung beans, any sprouted bean
Nuts: raw, unpeeled or roasted almonds, brazils, cashew, chestnut, hazelnut, pecan, pine nut, pistachio, walnut, coconut
Seeds: linseed (flaxseed), hemp, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, sprouted seeds like alfalfa, tahini
Tubers: potato, tiger nuts (chufa)
Buy organic and good quality. Use singly or combine as you like eg. sunflower seed, almond and tahini milk. For thin milks, choose rice, for creamier ones use nuts or oats, for an all-rounder combine nuts, seeds and rice.
Soak your chosen ingredient in water overnight, changing the water once if you get chance. You will get a smoother texture but, more importantly, soaking makes your milk more digestible and the nutrients more absorbable by breaking down enzyme inhibitors and releasing phytic acid. If you haven’t time to soak, don’t worry, you can still make your milk, it just won’t taste quite as good.
Pre-cooked grains, potato, hemp seeds, brazils and white nuts like cashews, macadamia or pine nuts don’t need to be soaked, but soya beans, tiger nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and other nuts like almonds, coconut, hazelnuts and walnuts do. If in doubt, soak. If the water goes dark and cloudy during soaking, replace with fresh water.
Drain the water, throwing away the enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid. Rinse well. Some people leave the soaked ingredient for a day to allow it to sprout, making it even more nutritious.
Use a ratio of roughly 1 cup of ingredient to 2-3 cups of hot or cold water, but this really varies with the ingredients used. Vary it to suit your taste. Blend thoroughly until smooth. Thin it with more water or thicken it with more of the ingredient or a few cashews.
This is the fun bit! You can create any flavour you want. Simply add a squirt of agave syrup, a dash of apple juice, a few dates or a drop of vanilla extract for a basic good-tasting milk. Add flavours during blending, stir in afterwards or, in the case of dried fruit, soak with the other ingredients.
Xylitol - a low GL, non yeast-friendly sweetener, choose birch-derived
FOS, fructo-oligosaccharides, sweet powder that feeds gut flora
Agave syrup, low GL sweetener from cactus
Caster sugar, honey
Chocolate or carob in powder or cubes
Spices: cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, allspice, nutmeg, saffron, cloves
Herbs like chamomile, lemon balm, peppermint
Fruit, fresh or dried
Extracts: almond, vanilla, coffee (or cold espresso), peppermint
Waters like rose or orange flower
Nutrients: multivitamin and mineral, seaweeds, lecithin, flax oil
Almond milk powder for extra richness
Coconut butter or milk
Straining makes it smoother and creamier. Use a fine sieve over a jug, a proper nut milk bag, muslin or cheesecloth, even a tea towel or pair of pop socks! I use a double thickness of cheesecloth over a fine sieve. Store in a sealed glass container. Milk will last up to a week in the fridge, but you can freeze it. It will settle, so shake before use, or simply discard the last sedimenty bit at the bottom.
Don’t throw the nutritious pulp away; run it through a masticating juicer if you have one to get every last bit or simply use it to make dips, add it to cakes, breads and cereal bars or stir it into porridge, soup and curries. Some can even be used as a nourishing face scrub!
Quick Coconut Milk
Simply soak 175g organic dessicated coconut in 450ml boiling water for an hour, strain and then press the swollen coconut with the back of spoon to squeeze any more milk back into the strained water.
Creamy Coconut Milk
Juice fresh coconut using a masticating juicer like the Champion, then cover with water, blend and leave overnight. In the morning, juice it again to get creamy milk.
No-Soak Rice Milk
Cook rice in a 1:8 ratio with water until it’s really soft, then juice it through a masticating juicer like the Champion or blend it thoroughly. Strain and use as normal.
My favourite! Overnight, soak a cup of nuts (almonds and hazelnuts work best), blend with 3-4 cups of fresh water, add some agave or other flavour (nutmeg, cardamom or vanilla work particularly well), strain and store. Use skinned nuts for a creamier milk.
Chop a medium organic potato and blend with 1tbsp of oil and a cup of hot water. Adjust for consistency, sweeten, strain and store.
A bit more involved this one. Personally I find it a faff so prefer to buy it in or use a soya milk maker, which can save oodles of time if you plan to make it a lot. If using a machine, follow the recipe given for soaked beans. If not, rinse dried beans in a bowl of water until bubbling has stopped and soak in plenty of water overnight, making sure you use a large enough bowl as they will expand greatly! Rinse well, then blend with fresh water. Strain through a tea towel or cloth, squeezing the milk out. Keep the cheese-like mixture that’s left and use it in dips, cakes etc as it’s very nutritious. Boil the milk for 10 minutes and skim off any foam which might upset your stomach. Finally, add a little salt, agave or flavouring of your choice and store in the fridge.
Tiger Nut Milk
Called Horchata de Chufa, this is a traditional nutritious Spanish milk which is very creamy and sweet, making it a good substitute for rice milk. I love it. It was on sale in the UK as Tiger White but sadly you can’t get it here now. Clean and soak 1 cup of tiger nuts (actually plant tubers) overnight, rinse well and blend with 2-3 cups of fresh water. For the traditional flavour, infuse with a stick of cinnamon for a couple of hours or you can add sugar or other sweetener straightaway, then strain and bottle. Best ice cold.
Blend equal amounts of either cashews or macadamia nuts with water until very smooth (a coffee grinder would work well), adjust for consistency and add a dash of vanilla extract or sweetener as required. To make whipped cream, whisk cold refrigerated liquid coconut cream into peaks and sweeten if desired.
To approximate buttermilk, add a dash of lemon juice or vinegar to soya milk.
Boil a quantity of rice or almond milk with a little xylitol or agave until it reduces by more than half or becomes thicker, add a dash of vanilla extract, cool and store.
You can have great fun concocting milk mixes; the only limit is your imagination. Have a play and find your family’s favourite. You’ll be safe in the knowledge you’re giving them nutritious, non-toxic, non-allergenic, fresh milk which is easy to make and costs mere pennies. How satisfying is that?
Milk Bags, Juicers and Milk Machines: www.wholisticresearch.com
Nuts, seeds, grains, beans, powdered milks, liquid milks: www.goodnessdirect.co.uk
Nuts & Seeds inc. Tiger Nuts: www.ludlownutco.co.uk
Micki Rose can be contacted at the Pure Health Clinic.
And if you enjoy her milks, you might like her e-book – How to ... Eat Well. Over 87 pages of delicious, dairy and wheat-free recipes and healthy eating tips – only £10 from her website.
First published in March 2010; revised February 2012
More articles on the management of dairy allergy
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