Drinks

Making Nut Milks at Home

February 22, 2013

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

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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

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The Food52 Vegan Cookbook is here! With this book from Gena Hamshaw, anyone can learn how to eat more plants (and along the way, how to cook with and love cashew cheese, tofu, and nutritional yeast).

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107 Comments

Dorinda April 5, 2017
I made my first batch of almond milk a couple weeks ago and I could not believe the difference in flavor. So much better than store bought. I just wanted to pass on a tip I got from the recipe I used last time: you can use a bandana to strain the solids out of the milk. Works well and can be thrown in the wash for the next time. Also, I made little truffles with the nut solids, mixing in coconut oil, cocoa powder and some honey. I found the more coconut oil I used, the more truffle like the texture became. Just FYI. :)
 
diana April 6, 2014
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. :)
 
Author Comment
AntoniaJames April 7, 2014
That's wonderful to hear. Thank you for letting me know. ;o)
 
cindy_perkins_marlow April 14, 2013
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.'
 
Dorry F. March 6, 2013
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.
 
Author Comment
AntoniaJames March 12, 2013
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)
 
Dorry F. March 12, 2013
Thanks so much! I will try that! <br /> 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. <br />Whenever I have that drained and exhausted feeling, chocolate almond milk seems to help perk me up again and give me a second wind. <br />Thank you for your inspiration! I cannot wait to get home and get my hands on the soaked almonds and the blender!
 
Author Comment
AntoniaJames March 12, 2013
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)
 
Dorry F. March 12, 2013
I'll let you know how it turns out!
 
Tyler W. February 15, 2017
Well, how did it turn out?
 
tenuta M. March 4, 2013
Have you made soy milk? If so, any tricks to it?
 
Author Comment
AntoniaJames March 12, 2013
Actually, I have not. That would be a great question for the FOOD52 Hotline! ;o)
 
Lauren R. March 1, 2013
also for longer freshness fill your bottles to the brim. Less exposure to air longer self life.
 
Author Comment
AntoniaJames March 12, 2013
Thanks, Lauren! ;o)
 
Lauren R. February 28, 2013
I have worked intensively with nutmilks. I found they last much longer if the nuts are soaked in the fridge.
 
Author Comment
AntoniaJames March 1, 2013
Lauren, thank you so much for this post! I had no idea. I'll keep that in mind next time. ;o)
 
phyllis S. February 27, 2013
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!
 
Panfusine February 27, 2013
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?
 
phyllis S. February 27, 2013
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!
 
Panfusine February 27, 2013
you know.. you may have a great germ of a start-up idea there!
 
Author Comment
AntoniaJames March 1, 2013
Thank you, phyllis. I'll need to run that book down. It sounds so interesting! ;o)
 
phyllis S. March 1, 2013
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.
 
Panfusine March 1, 2013
add the pulp to a veggie burger mix of cooked quinoa,refried beans, panko & seasonings.
 
phyllis S. March 1, 2013
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.
 
Panfusine March 1, 2013
sorry, I shd have clarified.. yes the Panko is just for coating the surfaces!
 
sophiea February 27, 2013
AntoniaJames, I love all your contributions to Food52!!!
 
Author Comment
AntoniaJames March 1, 2013
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)
 
phyllis S. February 26, 2013
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.
 
Author Comment
AntoniaJames March 12, 2013
Thanks so much, phyllis! ;o)
 
Lkw1080 February 25, 2013
I found my answer below! Thanks!
 
Lkw1080 February 25, 2013
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?
 
boringmama February 24, 2013
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
 
Kristen M. February 24, 2013
Hi there -- I believe we used this Weck Preserving Juice Jar, which holds 1062ml or about 36 fluid ounces: http://www.amazon.com/BlissHome-Weck-1062ml-Preserving-Juice/dp/B005DXWQHO/?tag=food52-20
 
boringmama February 24, 2013
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 !
 
Janet L. February 24, 2013
Can you make coconut Milk about the same way?
 
Panfusine February 24, 2013
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.
 
luvcookbooks February 24, 2013
AJ, you continually amaze and inspire me! Thanks!
 
Author Comment
AntoniaJames March 12, 2013
luvcookbooks, you're too nice. Thank YOU!! ;o)
 
Dina M. February 24, 2013
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!
 
Dina M. February 24, 2013
vitamix...silly autocorrect!
 
megaret February 24, 2013
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.
 
megaret February 24, 2013
Great to know, thank you!
 
Panfusine February 24, 2013
LOVE THIS!! thanks Antoniajames
 
Author Comment
AntoniaJames February 24, 2013
Thank YOU, panfusine! I've stirred almond milk into more than one of your beautiful recipes. ;o)
 
BlueKaleRoad February 24, 2013
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!
 
Author Comment
AntoniaJames February 24, 2013
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)
 
BlueKaleRoad February 24, 2013
Thanks for that additional tip, AJ!