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Nut milk: Soak, blend, strain, drink

Apr 1st, 2014 | Category: Cooking

by Tina Hoban

Do you enjoy nut milks? Why would you want to make your own nut milk, when there are so many choices out there? Simple. The nut milk that you make at home is better. Way better.

Nut milk. PHOTO BY TINA HOBAN

Nut milk. PHOTO BY TINA HOBAN

Making your own nut milk is not hard; you’ll just need a blender (the bigger the motor, the better) and a way to strain out the pulp. You can really use any nut or blend of nuts to make your milk, although creamier nuts like almonds and cashews work best. I recommend starting with these, and then start experimenting to find your favorite.

To soak, or not to soak, that is the question. At the beginning of my nut-milking phase, I would throw the nuts straight from the package into the blender. But after doing a bit of reading, I have changed my ways. When you soak nuts overnight, they become more digestible. Soaking also helps to rid nuts of phytic acid, a substance that inhibits our bodies ability to absorb certain minerals.

At the end of your milk-making, you’ll find yourself left with a bag of pulp, which can be dried and ground into a flour. This flour can then be used to replace up to a third of your normal flour in most recipes.

Following are recipes for making almond milk and coconut milk. Nut milks are good for drinking, and can also be used as a substitute for creamers, cream pies and other recipes. The  almond or coconut flour recipe is a good way to use the remaining pulp in other dishes, such as desserts and other baked items. The Almond Creme Caramel is considered a simple farm dessert in France, or so I’ve read. It is usually made with milk, but I found that the almond milk works well, too.

After soaking almonds in water overnight, drain them and place in a blender. PHOTO BY TINA HOBAN

After soaking almonds in water overnight, drain them and place in a blender. PHOTO BY TINA HOBAN

Tina Hoban lives on a small farm in Whatcom County, and is the owner of Scratch Desserts.

 

Almond Milk

 

Ingredients 

1 cup raw almonds (or try your favorite nut)

3 cups water

 

Directions

Cover the almonds with water and soak overnight, then drain.

Put the almonds and water into a blender.  Blend at high speed for 1 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture looks smooth.

Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag, or 3 layers of cheesecloth or a jelly bag, into a jar.  You may have to squeeze the bag a bit to release all of the liquid.  Reserve the pulp to make almond flour.

Refrigerate the milk and use within 3 to 5 days.

* Note, you can sweeten your milk a bit by adding 2 dates to the blender with the almonds.

Makes 3 cups

After steps to strain the mixture, you have made fresh almond milk. PHOTO BY TINA HOBAN

After steps to strain the mixture, you have made fresh almond milk. PHOTO BY TINA HOBAN

 

Coconut Milk

 

Ingredients 

2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

3 cups water

 

Directions

Put the coconut into a large heat-proof bowl.  Bring the water to a boil and pour it over the coconut.  Let this sit for 20 minutes to soften the coconut.

Add the softened coconut, along with all of the water in the bowl to the blender.  Blend on high for 1 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture looks smooth.

Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag, or 3 layers of cheesecloth or a jelly bag, into a jar.  You may have to squeeze the bag a bit to release all of the liquid.  Reserve the pulp to make coconut flour.

Refrigerate the milk and use within 3 to 5 days.

* Note, you can sweeten your milk a bit by adding 2 dates to the blender with the coconut.

Makes 3 cups

 

Almond or Coconut Flour

Ingredients 

pulp

Directions

Squeeze the excess liquid out of the pulp. Use your hands to crumble the pulp into small pieces onto a baking pan. Put the pan into a low oven (175 degree)  for a few hours until they are thoroughly dried out.

When cool, put the almond bits into a blender or food processor and  mix until you have a fine textured flour.

If your flour is completely dry, it will keep for months in a covered container.

 

Almond Creme Caramel

Ingredients 

Caramel:

1/2 cup sugar

 

Custard:

6 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

4 cups almond milk

1 teaspoon almond extract (you can substitute vanilla extract)

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the sugar in the bottom of a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Do not stir! The sugar will slowly begin to melt (this may take 10 minutes or so). Watch the sugar carefully; it will begin to turn a deep amber color. You may shake the pan a little to help the sugar to melt. When it is the color of dark tea, remove it from the heat and quickly pour the caramel into a two-quart souffle dish, or similar deep, round baking dish. Swirl the pan the coat the bottom of the pan with the caramel (it will begin to harden quickly, this is normal).

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Slowly whisk in the almond milk, followed by the almond extract.

Butter the sides of your baking dish.  Pour your custard in.

Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 degrees, and bake for another 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the custard comes out clean.

Cool the creme caramel and refrigerate until cold.

To unmold: Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Place a large plate with a deep rim over your baking dish. Holding the two together tightly, carefully turn them over. As you pull the baking dish off, there will be quite a bit of liquid caramel which forms a nice sauce for the custard.

Serves 8

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