Drinks + Smoothies/ Vegan

Everything You Need to Know About Milk Alternatives

Milk Alternatives  
A couple of weeks ago I gathered practically every faux-milk I could possibly get my hands on and did a massive taste test of purchased versus homemade (coming soon, I swear)…and if you’re a nerd like me, that’s the ultimate showdown battle. While I wasn’t surprised that homemade milk was the Rocky Balboa of the scenario, I was kind of impressed by how incredibly simple it is to make. Milk has never been a favourite of mine. Growing up I remember the curiosity I felt when watching my brother and sister drink it by the glass. Whywouldyoudothat?! Even to this day my little sister will get the hankering for a cup, and as she drinks it, I’ll look on in horror. But lo and behold!!!

This little experiment had me making a heck of a lot of milks – ones that needed cooking, soaking, or used fresh seeds and nuts. And surprise surprise, they weren’t as time consuming or annoying to make as I thought. While like many of you I had my stints at making homemade milks, I would usually give up on it after a couple of weeks and think I’ll just buy this. Although in the past I’ve often purchased almond milks, I have kind of been put off lately and have been skipping them altogether. But through this I learned that if you steer clear of nut milks, they basically cost pennies to make!  And while they often mean planning ahead to soak your ingredients the night before, they only take about 2 minutes to make…much less time than trekking to the store. And best of all, they taste amazing!

 

Milk Alternatives
Milk Alternatives
To help you get started on your nut milk extravaganza, I’ve outlined a few key elements – ratios, ingredient options, and flavours. Most importantly, just have fun and play around! 
Need to Knows…
 

Storing

Being deliciously homemade, without the addition of stabilizers and preservatives, means that this stuff wont last as long as the store bought versions. But in all honestly, they taste so darn good, I doubt you’ll have any issue with them lasting that long. I like to keep my milk in a sealed jar (think mason or my beloved weck) to prevent any weird fridge smell from permeating. I usually give them all about four days in the fridge to be safe, but five should be just fine. And if you make too much, or are just one of those super organized folks who plan ahead (I know you’re out there!), you can freeze extra in ice cube trays for hot chocolates, or to pop into your favourite dish. 

Sweetening

If you chose to take this route, there are two main ways to sweeten your milk. Firstly, is the dried fruit method. For this one, I often stick with dates, but raisins would also do the trick. They are best to add along with the nuts or seeds, and pureed together. Dates add a subtle sweetness and caramel flavour which I really enjoy. Start with only one or two and taste as you go, and remember to pit them first, or poor Vitamix… 

Second is the liquid sweetener version. This one can me made with loads of different options: honey, maple syrup, date syrup, yacon, brown rice syrup, really whatever! The nicest part here is that you add these after the milk has been strained. This allows for more control over the flavour than the dried fruit version, and doesn’t contaminate the pulp. Start with a teaspoon and add more to taste. And don’t forget, adding a pinch of sea salt will help bring out the flavours. 

Add In

Here’s where you can get as creative as you like! Add vanilla (powder, extract, or beans), raw cacao, cocoa, berries (hello strawberry milk!!!), spirulina, chlorella, reishi, or anything you can dream of. 

To Compost, or not to compost….

Well, that’s not even a question here. When it comes to making your own milk, you may cringe at the price of almonds, but looking at the bigger picture, you’ll see that it’s not actually that expensive because it’s a zero waste procedure! That’s right, no leftovers here. The pulp left behind from oat, rice, and quinoa milk can be stirred into pancakes or cooked and eaten as a porridge. Nut pulps like the almond pulp can be stored in the freezer if you’re not using it right away, added to your next baking endeavour, or dried in the oven at a low temp and used as flour. Finally, coconut can be toasted and makes the perfect topping for curry or oatmeal.


P.S. I haven’t found much use for soy bean leftovers yet, but if you do, please share!
Correction – I’ve now learned this is called okara, and can be added to vegan burgers!

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The Basics
 

No matter what your budget or dietary need, there is a milk alternative for you out there. Here are the five main groups to choose from. And don’t forget you can mix (coconut almond milk, anyone?)

Nuts

Choose from Almonds, Hazelnuts, Cashews*, Pecans*, Walnuts, Macadamia, or Brazil.

1. 1 Cup nuts to 3-3 1/2 Cups water 
2. Let the nuts soak overnight. 
3. The next day, rinse them well and place in blender along with the fresh water.
4. Puree until smooth, then strain through cheese cloth, nut milk bag, or yes, even hosiery (clean ones, though).

*Nuts like the pecans and cashews are too fine to sieve out, and are better left in the milk.  

Seeds

Choose from Sesame, Hemp hearts*, Pumpkin Seeds, or Sunflower Seeds.

1. 1 Cup nuts to 2 Cups water 
2. Soak all the seeds overnight except for hemp (no soaking needed). 
3. The next day, rinse them well and place in blender along with the fresh water.
4. Puree until smooth, then strain through cheese cloth, nut milk bag, and that hosiery.

*Seeds like the hemp are too fine to sieve out, and are better left in the milk.  

Beans

Soy Beans!

1. 1 Cup dried soy beans, soaked overnight

2. The next day drain and rub the beans together to remove the casing (the beans will split into halves). Discard the casings.

3. Puree along with 4 cups water until smooth. Pass the mixture through a cheesecloth or nut milk bag.

4. Bring the milk to a boil and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring often. Spoon off the milk skim that forms on top, then once cool you can season.


Grains

Choose from Scotch (Steal Cut) Oats, Rice, or Quinoa.

1. 1/2 Cup raw rice or quinoa (you will cook it) to 2 Cups water. Or, 1 Cup raw steal cut oats to 3 Cups water.
2. Cook the rice or quinoa and once cool, combine with the water. Let the oats soak overnight, then like the others, rinse before pureeing with fresh water.
3. Puree until smooth then strain.

Other

This includes the delicious odd ball, Coconut.

1. Combine 1 Cup dried coconut along with 4 Cups water.
2. Puree until smooth, then strain.

Recipes
 
Golden Milk Latte
Serves 1
Personally, I like to call this both a ‘warm hug’ and a simultaneous ‘kick in the ass’. It’s spicy and warming, and lightly sweet. The perfect balance of invigoration and comfort.
1 1/2 Cup Milk 
1 tsp. Ground Turmeric
1/2 tsp. Grated Ginger
1/8 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Honey, or sweetener of choice
1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. coconut oil

1. Combine all the ingredients in a pot and whisk together. Bring the mixture to a simmer and serve warm.
Milk Alternatives
 Dandelion Mocha

Serves 1

If you don’t want such a rich drink, try skipping the cacao and sugar and just go for a traditional dandelion latte (that’s not a thing yet, but hopefully one day soon).
1 1/2 Cups Milk along with 1/4 Cup Water
2 Tbsp. Roasted Dandelion Root
2 Tbsp. Cacao Powder
1 tsp. Maca
1/2 tsp. Reishi Powder (Optional)
Pinch Sea Salt
1 Tbsp. Coconut Cream (Optional)
1 Tbsp. Coconut Sugar


1. Combine the milk and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the dandelion root. Steep 5 minutes then strain out the dandelion roots. Add the milk back to the pot along with the other ingredients and bring to a simmer. Enjoy!

Milk Alternatives Milk Alternatives

xox Sophie

19 Comments

  • Reply
    Cami Reeves
    November 15, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    Can you use a food processor or regular blender or does it have to be a Vitamix or other high powered blender?

  • Reply
    Susannah Brown
    November 16, 2015 at 3:52 am

    Hey Sophie, thanks you so much for researching and sharing all this info it is EXACTLY what I needed to hear and I have bookmarked it. I've just bought a food processor capable of making nut milk and am going to embark on doing so soon so thanks again for making that easier and motivating me! xx

  • Reply
    Jodi Kay
    November 16, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Love this post, Sophie! Thank you so much for getting this all in one place – so helpful! I always make my own milks at home, but I have to be honest I still use a panty hose to strain the milk – ha! perhaps it's time for an upgrade! x

  • Reply
    Sarah | Well and Full
    November 17, 2015 at 3:02 am

    This is a fantastic guide!! You included everything, thank you!

  • Reply
    Marla
    November 17, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Susan V. from fatfree vegan has some recipes for okara (soybean leftovers). Here's one: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/07/okara-crab-cakes.html

  • Reply
    Jessie Snyder | Faring Well
    November 18, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    I am so in love with this post Sophie! Its filled with so much useful information, even for someone like me who has tackled the weekly batches of nut milk before (but given up after a year of commitment). You have me wanting to try all of these new plant milks, and make yummy warm drinks with them too! Ps. Your kitchen + light is so gorgeous and refreshing <3. Hope you're having a lovely fall up there in Vancouver! Hugs! xo

  • Reply
    Sophie - Wholehearted Eats
    November 19, 2015 at 4:34 am

    Hi!!!! You can use a regular blender. I had a crapy one from Canadian Tire that we got with points and it worked well!

  • Reply
    Sophie - Wholehearted Eats
    November 19, 2015 at 4:35 am

    Yay, that's wonderful to hear, Susannah! I hope you have fun with all your nut milk creations 🙂

  • Reply
    Sophie - Wholehearted Eats
    November 19, 2015 at 4:37 am

    ha ha, I love it Jodi! I've been there too, no worries. Honestly, cheese cloth is amazing and the grime comes out in the washing machine…and so cheap 🙂

  • Reply
    Sophie - Wholehearted Eats
    November 19, 2015 at 4:37 am

    So happy you like it, Sarah! Thanks <3

  • Reply
    Sophie - Wholehearted Eats
    November 19, 2015 at 4:38 am

    Perfect! Thanks for the link, Marla!!!

  • Reply
    Sophie - Wholehearted Eats
    November 19, 2015 at 4:39 am

    also, I <3 fat free vegan!

  • Reply
    Sophie - Wholehearted Eats
    November 19, 2015 at 4:42 am

    Ah, thanks a million girl! You're too kind! And thanks for the kitchen confidence (at one point I was like….is it nice enough?, ha). And yes, autumn is a beauty! I bet CO is getting pretty snowy and pretty already.

  • Reply
    Laura
    November 19, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Your commitment to alt milks just blew my mind. BRB gonna go make some coconut milk! (!!!!)

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    November 20, 2015 at 3:41 am

    Great post/I too make my own milks For the soy residue called okara .This is great to feed pets and can be made into meatfree loavesor even dried then ground to use in baking

  • Reply
    Sophie - Wholehearted Eats
    November 20, 2015 at 5:53 am

    Awesome! Thanks for letting me know. I'll have to give some soy veggies burgers a go soon.

  • Reply
    Sophie - Wholehearted Eats
    November 20, 2015 at 5:54 am

    ha, love it! And yes, it's the best milk, eveeer!

  • Reply
    bananenblatt
    November 27, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Hi Sophie! I really like your recipe for the dandelion latte, i had the dried roots hangin out in my shelf way too long without giving them the appreciation they deserve, as i didn´t really like them in plain tea. Now that i tried your recipe I´m sure the rest of them wont last very long. And I made it with quinoa milk (and subbed carob for cacao) and it came out very thick and creamy, also the flavors team up pretty well! Thanks for sharing all this goodness!

  • Reply
    Kellie
    January 28, 2016 at 3:47 am

    Hello! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted
    to give a quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy
    reading your blog posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same
    topics? Thanks a ton!

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