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:
Fast Rice Milk
Step By Step Basic Method
Grains (cooked): rice, amaranth, millet, quinoa, barley, oats
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.
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
Creamy Coconut Milk
No-Soak Rice Milk
Tiger Nut Milk
Micki Rose can be contacted at the Pure Health Clinic.
First published in March 2010; revised February 2012