Small Batch

Making Nut Milks at Home

By • February 22, 2013 • 109 Comments

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Every week, a DIY expert spares us a trip to the grocery store and shows us how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today, AntoniaJames talks homemade nut milks. After reading her step-by-step instructions and easy, adaptable recipe, you'll never go back to the box again.

milk

If its ubiquitous presence on grocery store shelves is any indication, almond milk has taken the country by storm. I suppose this comes as no surprise, given the increasing populations of vegans, people with allergies and intolerances to dairy products, and others looking for a light, nutritious alternative to milk and cream. But the stuff in cartons contains preservatives and stabilizers that give it an odd aftertaste, and it often develops an unappealing, gummy consistency.

Fortunately, making nut milks at home isn’t hard. Plus, by making your own, you can control the quantity, sweetness, and thickness of the milk, and you can customize the flavor by adding vanilla, citrus zest, and spices. Not to mention that, like anything else, homemade tastes so much better!

almonds

I’ve found that nut milks provide more than just a good alternative to dairy. Often, they’re the better ingredient. For example, say you want to serve a creamy soup like Butternut Squash Soup with Sherry or Roasted Celery Soup, but don’t want to fill your guests up before the main event. Substituting a thick almond or cashew milk for the cows’ milk and cream lets you lighten these soups without sacrificing their luscious consistency. Additionally, cashew or almond milk (with a squeeze of lime added right before serving) magically improves any dal or curry. And what better way to get true almond and vanilla flavors into steel cut oats or granola than to use a milk made just of almonds, vanilla bean, and water?

Here’s how to make your own nut milks and creams:

First, measure and soak the nuts in about twice their volume of water. Let them sit at least overnight or (even better) for 24 hours.

pour

Drain and put them in a blender with some fresh filtered water and any sweeteners, spices, and flavorings you want. Add a piece of sliced vanilla bean for the strongest vanilla flavor.

drain

Blend on high speed for about 3 minutes. (You don’t need a Vitamix for this; a regular blender with a good motor will do!)

If you want a thicker nut milk, check for sweetness and flavoring ingredients, add more if necessary, and blend for another minute or so.

blend

If you prefer the consistency of regular whole cows’ milk, add more water and blend for another full minute. Taste, add whatever ingredients need a boost, and then blend for another 30 seconds.

If you’ve added a vanilla bean for flavor, let the milk sit for about an hour, then blend it again for 10 – 15 seconds before straining.

muslin

If you haven't used a vanilla bean in your milk, strain it immediately into a sieve or colander lined with several layers of regular cheesecloth, or with the more tightly woven cheesecloth known as butter muslin or "90 muslin". You can get the latter from cheesemaking suppliers and at some craft and fabric stores.

pour

You may need to push some of the pulp aside after about 10 minutes to make room for pouring more of the nut milk through. 

After about 20 minutes – when the pulp is still moist but no milk is dripping through the strainer -- draw up the edges of the butter muslin and carefully twist them together at the top. Squeeze the pulp gently to extract the milk, taking care not to let the pulp itself squeeze out.

pulp

Put the milk into a covered jar or other glass container and refrigerate. Nut milks tend to separate, so I put mine in jars or tightly lidded pitchers that I can shake. A brisk stir with a spoon also works.

pour

Cashews and pistachios get so soft and creamy after soaking that they generally don’t need to be strained. I scrape down the sides after 3 minutes and then blend them for an extra minute before pouring the milk into a clean jar or covered glass pitcher and refrigerating.

Be sure to rinse your cheesecloth in cold, filtered water so that you can reuse it. You’ll certainly want to, once you’ve tried this recipe.

bottle

Homemade Almond Milk

1 cup raw almonds
Filtered water: 2 cups for soaking the nuts, plus 3 ½ cups for blending
3 to 4 pitted dates, or 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional, to taste)

Save and print the recipe here.

For a vanilla-infused version, click here.

Looking for more uses for your nut milk?

• Drizzle lightly sweetened thick almond milk over fruit tarts, crisps and cobblers. Use it to lighten up your breakfast bread puddings and French toast, or in fun vegan puddings like this one.

• For a new spin on roasted butternut squash, mash it with a quarter cup or more of thick cashew or almond milk, salt, and a big pinch of recently-ground garam masala for an easy but elegant winter side dish.

• Blended with a few handfuls of berries, vanilla almond milk makes an irresistible smoothie.

Photos by James Ransom

Jump to Comments (109)

Tags: small batch, nut milks, almond milk, cashew milk, nuts, vegan, drinks, DIY, special diets, how-to & diy

Comments (109)

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6 months ago diana

I had recommended making homemade nut milk to a friend whose child has a very severe allergy to casein, among other things in dairy. They live in a small town in central Greece and she was buying soy milk which was available in a canned stabilized version. That bothered me a bit because this child was not able to drink something fresh in terms of a milk product. So it turned out that they lived on a family farm that happened to have a variety of nut trees. Greece is full of almond and walnut trees. So we found out how to make the milk and it has pretty much saved the situation. :)

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6 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

That's wonderful to hear. Thank you for letting me know. ;o)

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over 1 year ago cindy_perkins_marlow

I love that 'what goes around, comes around.' When I discovered my daughter's dairy allergy in 1976, I began making my own almond milk from reading Jethro Kloss's book 'Back to Eden.'

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over 1 year ago Dorry Forrester

How much cocoa would I need to make a chocolate version. I love chocolate almond milk and have bought it many times, but would love to make it myself and hopefully save money.

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I'd make a chocolate syrup by putting a teaspoon or so of cocoa per cup of milk in a cup with perhaps 2 teaspoons of boiling water and a pinch of sugar, depending on how sweet you like your cocoa. Melt the chocolate and stir to dissolve the sugar. Then add the almond milk. If that's not chocolaty enough, make more syrup. Good idea! ;o)

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over 1 year ago Dorry Forrester

Thanks so much! I will try that!
I am making almond milk tonight when I get home from work. I have had the almonds soaking in water for nearly 24 hours now.
Whenever I have that drained and exhausted feeling, chocolate almond milk seems to help perk me up again and give me a second wind.
Thank you for your inspiration! I cannot wait to get home and get my hands on the soaked almonds and the blender!

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Great! I'm thinking you might want to start with a tablespoon of cocoa + the same of hot water (plus sugar to taste) per cup, not knowing how rich your chocolate is . . . you could add a tablespoon of syrup, taste, and add more if you want. Sounds so tasty and yes, I could use a little pick-me-up just like that, right about now! ;o)

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over 1 year ago Dorry Forrester

I'll let you know how it turns out!

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over 1 year ago tenuta melagrana

Have you made soy milk? If so, any tricks to it?

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Actually, I have not. That would be a great question for the FOOD52 Hotline! ;o)

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over 1 year ago Lauren Ritter

also for longer freshness fill your bottles to the brim. Less exposure to air longer self life.

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, Lauren! ;o)

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over 1 year ago Lauren Ritter

I have worked intensively with nutmilks. I found they last much longer if the nuts are soaked in the fridge.

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Lauren, thank you so much for this post! I had no idea. I'll keep that in mind next time. ;o)

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over 1 year ago phyllis segura

There is a good book on this topic: Nut Milks by Candia Lea Cole, copyrighted 1990. What she does is use a spice mill to grind the nuts first. She also recommends adding ground flax to give some texture and of course added nutritional value. She never recommended soaking the nuts but it really is a good idea. She also adds Lecithin granules (need to be refrigerated). The Pine Nut Milk has got to be delicious but expensive. There are also recipes for Pumpkin seed, Sesame seed, and Sunflower seed milks. I also milk Poppy seeds!

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over 1 year ago Panfusine

Poppy seed paste is often used in Bengali cuisine for curries that call for a rich texture, love the creamy, buttery texture it yields. Do you use the white or the black poppy seeds?

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over 1 year ago phyllis segura

I use the black poppy seeds which produces a whitish milk. The white ones are traditionally used for pastries though I don't see why they would not work as well. Essentially any seed can be milked, or any nut. Was joking around the other day with some friends about how some of the economic problems in Afghanistan could be solved if they used the poppy seeds to make milk, seeing as how popular all the non-dairy milks are here and elsewhere!

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over 1 year ago Panfusine

you know.. you may have a great germ of a start-up idea there!

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, phyllis. I'll need to run that book down. It sounds so interesting! ;o)

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over 1 year ago phyllis segura

I made sunflower milk today with some almonds added. Put in some ground flax seeds and lecithin. I soaked too many and had to run it through the blender several times. It really only takes about 1/3 cup of seeds/nuts to about 3-1/2-4 cups water and I soaked 1 cup of seeds. Gulp. Now I'm trying to figure out what to do with the pulp.

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over 1 year ago Panfusine

add the pulp to a veggie burger mix of cooked quinoa,refried beans, panko & seasonings.

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over 1 year ago phyllis segura

Maybe. That sounds rather heavy. I'd add more vegetables if I were to do that. Skip the panko though as they all have additives. Panko is great though for a coating but not inside mixtures, for that, use breadcrumbs. The great thing about panko is the crispiness that it creates.

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over 1 year ago Panfusine

sorry, I shd have clarified.. yes the Panko is just for coating the surfaces!

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over 1 year ago sophiea

AntoniaJames, I love all your contributions to Food52!!!

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Sophiea, you are too kind. Love your blog, by the way! Sending the link now to my sister, also a painter and fabulous, SallyCan (whose handsome food-subject still life paintings decorate my law offices!). ;o)

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over 1 year ago phyllis segura

Good direction. You can also use the ground and strained nut meats a second time as all the juice is not yet out of them. Adding sweeteners is not always necessary but sometimes a thickener makes for a better mouth feel. You can research the ones you might like. I used to use soy lecithin but don't recommend it any longer.

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks so much, phyllis! ;o)

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over 1 year ago Lkw1080

I found my answer below! Thanks!

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over 1 year ago Lkw1080

Thanks so much! I am soaking both almonds and cashews right now to give this a try! Can't wait! How long will it keep in the fridge?

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over 1 year ago boringmama

This looks wonderful. May I ask you where you got your milk jar-how much it holds and does it seal ? I noticed a red rubber seal. Thanks so much

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over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Hi there -- I believe we used this Weck Preserving Juice Jar, which holds 1062ml or about 36 fluid ounces: http://www.amazon.com/BlissHome...

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over 1 year ago boringmama

May I ask where you got your cute jar and it looks like it has a lid that seals ? Or how does it attach? I noticed the red rubber ring. I'd love to get a couple--oh and how much does it hold? Thanks so much !

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over 1 year ago Janet L Smith

Can you make coconut Milk about the same way?

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over 1 year ago Panfusine

For coconut milk, I'd suggest getting the grated frozen coconut you get in Indian grocery stores and then proceed to blend them with warm/hot water to extract the milk. cold water tends to freeze the coconut oil, leaving messy globules about ( unless of course you want to buy a whole coconut, break i, & t scrape out the meat), The dessicated coconut from the shelves do not work that well.

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over 1 year ago luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

AJ, you continually amaze and inspire me! Thanks!

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

luvcookbooks, you're too nice. Thank YOU!! ;o)

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over 1 year ago Dina Moore-Tzouris

thank you! what a revelation! so, so, so much more delicious than anything from a box. almondy perfection. I have a vitamin, so i used it, following same directions. drained with a nut milk bag. could not be easier! never going back!

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over 1 year ago Dina Moore-Tzouris

vitamix...silly autocorrect!

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over 1 year ago megaret

Has anyone tried making this in a large food processor? I would think it would work, but I've substituted it for a blender in some other recipes and things don't always come out quite right.

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over 1 year ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I make mine in my large cuisinart and it works just fine, I make a pretty large quantity and my blender is pretty old so I think the results are probably better in my processor, if I had a vitamix I would use that for sure but my processor does the job just fine,

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over 1 year ago megaret

Great to know, thank you!

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over 1 year ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I make it every week and have always used my food processor thinking my old blender would not work as good, tonight I made in the blender and it did do a better job on the almonds than my processor. Both work but the almonds were chopped finer probably extracting more of the milk with the processor.

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over 1 year ago Panfusine

LOVE THIS!! thanks Antoniajames

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank YOU, panfusine! I've stirred almond milk into more than one of your beautiful recipes. ;o)

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over 1 year ago BlueKaleRoad

This is a terrific post! Homemade nut milk is so much better than store-bought. I usually make almond, but just picked up cashews to try. Great tip that they don't need to be strained, and now I'll add pistachios to my shopping list. Thank you for sharing!

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, BKR! I find that with the cashew milk and pistachio milk, it's a good idea to test it for consistency before pouring it out of the blender. Some nuts are harder (drier, I guess) than others, so they soak the water up at different rates. I've been known to blend for an extra minute or so when making milks that are not strained. Also, it's important to scrape down the side of the blender to get the little bits into the mix. ;o)

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over 1 year ago BlueKaleRoad

Thanks for that additional tip, AJ!

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over 1 year ago bobpirtle

I tried using cheesecloth but had better luck using a nut milk bag I bought. They are available on line. I purchased from purejoyplanet.com.

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, bobpirtle. That's very helpful! ;o)

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over 1 year ago DeenyS

Thanks for that tip, just ordered one. I've been wanting to make sesame milk.