Thursday, March 5, 2009

Making Milk Myself...

For those of you who arrived here expecting a post on breastfeeding, sorry. Been there, done that and the moment has passed. This is actually about making a vegan milk out of grains and nuts.

I have never liked milk. One of my worst childhood memories is of being served milk in anodized aluminum glasses much like these. It was awful- the metal of the glass had a scent that didn't go well with the milk, I would put off drinking it, the milk would get warm and the scent would get worse. Yucky all around. I would complain, and my mom would tell me I had to drink it until I was 12 years old, and then I could quit. Let me tell you, I never looked back once I passed that milestone. The only glass of milk I have had since that day was once during a pregnancy. My husband told me a glass of milk would settle my stomach. He lied.

My sister A told to me that she makes a breakfast smoothie using almond milk. I immediately wanted to do that too- why should she have a tasty treat and not me? Actually, just the thought of almond milk was entrancing. I also remembered, from our abortive experiment making tofu two summers ago, that we could follow the same technique to solidify a tofu from almond milk. I don't know about you, but almond tofu sounds unbelievably good to me.

I could buy almond, oat, hemp, rice or soy milk at the store. But I always like to make things myself, and this is no exception. I looked online, and found recipes. I decided I would make my own barley milk (since barley is a Miracle Food!) and almond milk. At the Mennonite store I bought a pound of rolled barley, a pound of raw almonds, and because they had them, a pound of raw cashews.

The process is similar whether using grains or nuts. For the barley milk, I used this oatmilk recipe from Recipezaar:


1 cup cooked oats (i use thick rolled) (Substitute barley here. I also don't know why you couldn't use any grain.)
4-5 cups hot water
1-2 teaspoon cornstarch (I would leave this out next time to see what happens)
1 tablespoon sugar (I used honey)
1 dash nutmeg (I left this out)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 pinch sea salt
To cook steel cut or thick rolled oats, bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small sauce pan, add 1/2 cup of oats and turn the heat down to med/low, they just want to gently simmer for about 10 minutes. Give it a stir to check to see if the oats have absorbed all of the water.

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil.
As you are waiting for the water to boil, add the rest of the ingredients to a blender.
As soon as your water is boiling add 3-4 cups to the blender. Be sure that there is room left in the top of the blender and that the lid fits securely or you could risk splashing yourself with hot water when you flip the switch.
Turn your blender on low and increase to high speed, blending for about 20 seconds or so. Check the consistency, add more water as necessary to achieve the desired thickness. The mixture will thicken a little as it cools off and eventually chills.

barley milkbarley milkbarley milk

The barley milk was a little thick and gelatinous- it didn't make a difference when making smoothies, but I can't imagine chugging a glass of this. I'm not sure how it would work with other cooking.

I used this recipe for the almond milk, also from Recipezaar:


1/2 cup almonds (I used 1 cup)
1 1/2 cups boiling water(I used 3 cups)


Soak almonds for about 12 hours, rinse. I added this step
Throw the almonds and the boiling water into the blender and blend for about 3 minutes at high speed.
Strain through muslin or cheesecloth.
The remaining pulp can be used in vegetable/nut loaves or burgers.

Shake milk well before serving.

The nut milks were terrific. The almond had a lot of residue that wasn't ground up by the blender. I saved it and toasted it for later use. The cashews completely vanished- there was nothing left. I didn't even bother to strain.

almond milkalmond milk
Almond milk Almond milk
left over almonds after blendingleft over almonds toasted
leftover almonds after blending leftover almonds toasted
cashews after soakingcashew milk
cashews after soaking cashew milk

cashew milk
I think next time I will combine a nut milk with a grain milk. Also, before I make the grain milk, I think I will put the raw grain flakes in the blender or food processor. Then I'll soak them overnight instead of cooking them. I suspect that will cut down the sliminess. I also might add a tablespoon of coconut oil to the blender, if I can find some that tastes good. I have some on hand here, but it has a "neutral" flavor.

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