March 27, 2015
No longer the secret sprouted elixir of hippie families, nut milk has transitioned to a popular wellness beverage—popular with the swanky restaurant set, juice cleansers, hipsters, Paleo dieters, and coffee aficionados.
We often gravitate towards almond-based nut milks. And with behemoths such as Almond Breeze, Silk’s PureAlmond line, and So Delicious Almond, this isn’t really a surprise. (And weirdly/amazingly enough, even Dunkin’ Donuts is now offering almond milk lattes). But amidst the almond milk insanity, there are several other types of nuts that lend themselves to amazing flavors, textures, and versatility: not only hazelnuts but also cashews, walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, and Brazil nuts.
Most importantly for our purposes, how do you make nut milk more affordable and accessible? Homemade nut milk is the most cost-effective, nutritious, and eco-friendly option, since it lacks the extra thickeners, additives, and packaging found in the store bought varieties.
Here’s a guide including the benefits of the different types of nut milks, easy homemade recipes. The only equipment you’ll need is a blender and a nut milk bag.
Almond milk’s subtle and pleasing taste lends itself to both sweet and savory recipes. A great source of vitamin E, copper, and magnesium, almonds are also alkaline-forming. Almonds are undeniably the perfect option for your everyday non-dairy beverage because of their price point, versatility, and reputation in the wellness world as nutrient goldmines.
1 cup raw almonds
5 cups filtered water
2 pitted Medjool dates (optional)
Dash of sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
Place almonds in a bowl and cover with filtered water; soak overnight (or at least 8 hours). In the morning, drain and rinse the almonds, then add to a blender along with dates, water, and salt. Blend on high speed for 1 minute. Place a nut milk bag or cheese cloth over a large bowl. Pour milk into the bag or cloth, and squeeze the gently to get as much milk as possible from the almond pulp. Store in a glass jar for up to 5 days.
Hazelnut milk has a delightfully nutty, creamy, and rich taste, and also serves as a great source of vitamin E, folate, B vitamins, arginine and protein. The only drawback is the hazelnut’s higher price. A half-almond half-hazelnut blend makes a delicious yet budget-friendly alternative. Add hazelnut milk to your coffee, chocolate shakes, and overnight oats, or just sip straight from the glass.
Angela Liddon from Oh She Glows has a dreamy hazelnut milk recipe adapted below.
1 cup raw hazelnuts (soaked overnight, then rinsed and drained)
3 1/2 to 4 cups water
2 to 3 pitted Medjool dates
1 vanilla bean, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt (optional)
Blend ingredients on high speed for 1 minute. Place a nut milk bag over a large bowl, pour blended mixture into bag, and squeeze out the milk gently. Store in a glass jar up to 3 days.
Cashews are known for their high copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, and potassium content. They create a milk texture that is a fool-proof base for plant-based cream sauces, mac and “cheeze,” Indian curry, smoothies, and overnight oats. My all-time favorite winter soup recipe, Isa Chandra’s Chickpea, Rice, and a Little Kale Soup is a prime example of cashew milk’s versatility.
By this point, you know what to do. The ratio for nut milks is 3 1/2 to 4 parts water to 1 part raw cashews. Soak, rinse, blend, squeeze, enjoy!
Pro tip: if you prefer a creamier, heavier—and inevitably, higher calorie—cashew milk for certain recipes, you can skip the straining step or add less water.
Walnuts are known for their brainpower-boosting quality. They’re packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid, vitamin E, and also contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phytonutrients. Try out this memory-improving milk over cereals, in smoothies, and in hearty baked good recipes.
Since packaged walnut milk isn’t on the market yet, you’ll have to make this one at home. Soak, rinse, blend, and strain 1 cup raw walnuts, 3 1/2 to 4 cups water, and optional Medjool dates and sea salt to taste.
Called the “smiling nut” in Iran and the “happy nut” in China, pistachios contain the highest levels of potassium and phytosterols of all the nuts. They’re also packed with carotenes, vitamin E, and selenium, in addition to metabolism-boosting B vitamins. With its distinctive flavor and green tinge, pistachio milk works best in matcha lattes and shakes, chia pudding, and aromatic creamy rice dishes. For a richer milk option, you can skip the straining step.
Macadamias provide a super buttery texture, and require a shorter soaking time (4 hours is sufficient). They are a great source of iron, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folates. However, they also have a higher fat content (good fat, though!), and a more expensive price tag than other nuts. Macadamia milk is best straight from the glass, in smoothies, or over cereal to appreciate the indulgence. Macadamia almond milk blends are also a fantastic option for coffee and tea creamer. Again, use the same magic ratio of raw nuts to water (1 to 3 1/2 or 4), and add a date or two for sweetness, if necessary.
Brazil nuts are known for their high levels of selenium — just three of them will get you to your daily recommended level! These complete protein nuts support immunity and also contain omega-6 fatty acids, palmitoleic acid and oleic acid, which help lower bad cholesterol. Since Brazil nuts, like macadamias, are higher in fat than other nuts, they create a silky and decadent milk that works best as a coffee creamer, oatmeal addition, or in smoothies. The ratio for Brazil nut milk is 1 part raw nuts to 4 parts water.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont
Lila has a BA from Pomona College and a master's in International Development Studies from the University of Cambridge. Raised vegetarian for life (and vegan for the past nine years) in a health-conscious household in Woodstock, NY, Lila has long been attuned to physical and spiritual wellness — as a dancer, yogi, and self-taught (yet impressive) vegan cook/baker.
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