I recently watched a tutorial on making nut milk that was on one of my favorite PBS how-to shows, "B Organic With Michele Beschen". It wasn't something I've ever considered making, but when our son, RJ, complained about having stomach aches after eating cereal in the mornings, I realized that he might be a touch lactose intolerant and wondered if switching to nut milks might be the answer for him. So I bought some almond milk at the grocery store and after a few days we both realized that this was the answer, and I was so happy this worked for him!
Nut milks are very easy to make and best of all, they're lactose free. I've seen walnuts and almonds used, and someone in an article I read used macadamia nuts, so that gives you a few choices about what to use.
When making nut milks you need to use raw, not roasted or salted nuts, organic would be great but if you can't find them don't worry about it.
The recipe itself is very easy. Just take 1 cup of nuts and soak them overnight in filtered or distilled (not tap) water. Soaking them removes the enzyme inhibitors on the nuts. These inhibitors keep the nuts from sprouting prematurely, and can also make it more difficult for you to digest them if you like raw nuts. There's a very interesting article here that explains all of this.
Once the nuts have been soaked, you need to drain and rinse them well. Next, put them in a blender and add anywhere between 3 to 5 cups of filtered or distilled water. Three cups with give your milk a creamier consistency, but if you want something a bit thinner, just add more water. I used 3 cups for mine and will probably bump that up to 4 cups next time.
I mentioned a blender. Most all of the tutorials I watched were folks using a Vita Mix blender. Well, I don't have one and after looking at them online, I almost fell out of my chair after seeing their prices! Needless to say, there WON'T be a Vita Mix blender in my house any time soon. Even some of the other blenders that were somewhat similar to a Vita Mix, were just as expensive. Sigh. But I will tell you, you can still make nut milk without one.
Before you start blending, think about if you want your milk to have any sweetness to it. If so, you can use honey or agave nectar, or you can toss in a few pitted dates. If using dried dates, just soak them as well to soften them (I used 4 small dates). You can even add a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract, or use a vanilla bean if you have some. You could also add some cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cacao powder, or whatever you want to flavor your milk with. Make it how you like it!
If using a standard blender, it will take a few minutes for it to really break down the nuts so just be patient.
Next, you'll need to strain the nut milk. I don't have a nut milk bag (you can buy these online or make your own), so I used a fine-meshed strainer lined with a few layers of cheesecloth. Make sure you squeeze as much liquid from the pulp as possible. You can use this pulp and add it to breads or cookies, or hot cereals. One of the tutorials suggested spreading it out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and drying it in a low oven to extend its shelf life a little longer.
That's really all there is to making nut milk. It will keep in the fridge for about a week, but in my house it'll be used up before it has a chance to go bad! If the milk separates somewhat, that's ok. Just shake it before each use. I'm sorry I don't have more pictures to go along with this but I honestly didn't think about it at the time. But I did take a picture of the finished product (minus a bit after taste testing!).
I hope you'll give this a try, and honestly.......it's a lot of fun to make and cheaper than buying it at the store!