Saturday, August 30, 2014

Anton Health and Nutrition

How to Make Your Own Homemade Nut Milk

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Raw Almonds

Raw Almonds

I’ve been making my own nut milks for years, but it wasn’t until recently (as soon as I let go of my raw cow milk share) that I needed a healthy, sustainable solution for my daily green smoothies. Sure, I can buy nut milks in those asceptic containers from the alternative milk aisle, but I dread seeing anything unnecessarily going into the recycle bin. Making my own nut milk and storing it in mason jars was the only acceptable option for me.

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I also get to vary the nuts and seeds I use, instead of feeling limited to what’s available at the market. Brazil nut milk is my favorite, but I also use walnuts, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, and of course almonds. Another benefit of making my own is that I get to decide if the milk gets sweetened or not (and with what sweetener and how much) and I’m not forced to consume the added oils, starches, gums and thickeners that tend to come along for the ride with the store-bought brands.

What You Need

  • Organic nuts or seeds. A general rule is one cup of nuts for every three cups of milk you want to make.
  • Half-gallon mason jar or glass pitcher. Use this for soaking the nuts and storing your final product.
  • Blender of food processor. You don’t need a high-speed blender or anything fancy to make nut milk.
  • Nut milk bag, cheesecloth or fine-meshed sieve (optional). Use if you like your milk smooth instead of pulpy.

It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3

1. Soak and rinse the nuts. Soak the nuts in water to cover overnight. Soaking de-activates the compounds that keep the nuts dormant, and activates the enzymes that make them sprout. Soaked nuts and seeds tend to be easier to digest and have better bio-availability, meaning that the nutrients have an enhanced ability to be utilized by the cells. Plus, soaking the nuts makes them tender enough to blend. Drain the water and rinse the nuts well before using.

2. Blend the soaked nuts with water. Place the soaked nuts into a blender or food processor and add about 3 cups of fresh water for each cup of presoaked nuts. If you want a thicker, richer milk, decrease the amount of water to your liking. Blend until the nuts are very fine ground and the water has turned a light milky color.

3. Strain the pulp (optional). I choose not to strain my nut milk for a couple reasons: For one, I use the milk for smoothies and I like the milk thick. Secondly, I don’t like throwing away fiber. Although nuts aren’t notoriously high in fiber, they have it, and I like to get it anywhere I can. But smooth is good, especially if you want a nice drinkable glass of milk. For smooth milk, it needs to be strained. A nut milk bag is used specifically for this purpose: It’s clean and easy and also reusable. A cheesecloth folded in 3-4 layers or a large fine-meshed sieve also work well. The pulp can be used for a variety of purposes (see below).

Flavoring and Sweetening Your Milk

The milk can be drunk as is, but I like to add a touch of one or more of the following for new flavor dimensions:

Cocoa and SpicesFlavorings:

  • Vanilla extract
  • Almond extract
  • Raw cocoa powder
  • Sweet spices like cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. Whole fresh, crushed spices like ginger root, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks can be steeped into the milk while chilling (let it steep 12-24 hours for the best flavor)
  • Fresh fruit (remember strawberry milk?)

Sweeteners:

  • Liquid stevia extract
  • Maple syrup
  • Raw, unfiltered honey
  • Agave nectar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Dates

Which Nuts Should You Use?

The most commonly used nut for milk is the almond because it lends a mellow nutty flavor. But don’t rule out other varieties; just take into consideration that the milk will retain the distinct flavor of the nut or seed that is used.

Try any of these nut or seed options, or a blend of two or three:

Nuts: Almonds, Cashews, Brazil nuts, Hazelnuts, Macadamias, Pecans, Pistachios, Walnuts

Seeds: Hemp, Sunflower, Flax, Chia, Pumpkin, Sesame, Pine nuts

To Pulp or Not to Pulp? That is the Last Question

If you want a smooth milk for sipping, you’re going to end up with at least a cup of pulp every time you make your milk. Most people hate to throw it away, as it does have a range of healthy uses. As mentioned above, I just keep it in the milk and use it for thick smoothies.

Here are five ideas for your pulp (if you don’t want it in your milk):

1. Nut Flour. The pulp can be dehydrated or placed in a 200 degree oven until dried. Grind the dried pulp in a spice grinder or high-speed blender until fine.

2. Raw cookies. Blend the pulp with some dates, nut butter, shredded coconut and sweet spices. Roll into balls and roll in shredded coconut or raw cocoa powder.

3. Soft, raw cheese. Blend the pulp in a food processor with a little nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, fresh herbs, and salt. Serve with crackers.

4. Cereal. Combine the pulp with your fresh nut milk, dried fruits, nuts and sweet spices for a porridge-like cereal.

5. Body Scrub. A great idea from Raw Food Talk. Let me know how it goes!

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  • Anna

    I've been looking for a post like this for a long time! Thank you! Ever since trying cashew milk at a raw food restaurant, I've wanted to make my own. Great step-by-step no waste instructions, and I especially liked the idea of using the leftover pulp as a body scrub. I have really sensitive skin, any chemicals aggravate it, so a nut scrub sounds just about as lusciously natural as it gets!
    - Anna M
    blog.nutri-health.com

  • Free advertising

    I was looking for Nut Milk recipe.
    Thanks for sharing

    John P

  • Jdelaamolina-

    what is half-gallon mason jar…i am in the ecuador i dont understand..please help me…

  • http://antonhealth.com/ Alison Anton

    1 half gallon = approximately 1.8 liters (2 liters). Use any jar or container that will hold this amount of nut milk.

  • http://twitter.com/darnellsw Darnell Witt

    Extremely informative primer & overview – thanks! I’m very excited to get started with this.

  • http://divaskychick.wordpress.com mandy fitch

    Thank you for this! Very exciting to find a recipe so versatile and doable without loads of special gear.

  • Shelby

    Can the leftover pulp be used to make nut butter? If so, how would i go about doing this?

    Also, do you know the nutritional breakdown of the strained (no pulp) nut milk?

  • http://www.antonhealth.com/ Alison

    Hi – No, the pulp will not make good nut butter. You’ll want to use the complete nut for that. Besides, once the nuts have been soaked, they need to be dehydrated first in order to make a non-water-logged butter. See my post “Homemade Nut Butter” – http://bit.ly/bN0h4V I’ll show you how to use raw nuts, or raw nuts that have been soaked and dehydrated. I do not know the nutritional breakdown of the butter. Have fun!

  • J-9

    Hi!
    I just stumbled on your site, because I’d like to stop (or at least limit) my consumption of dairy products. I’m currently reading The China Study– enough said.
    Thanks for posting these instructions. They look simple enough, so I’m eager to try them out. How long does this milk keep?

  • http://www.antonhealth.com/ Alison

    The milk should keep for at least 5 days. I store mine in the back of the fridge, where it’s coldest, and it seems to last a good week.