While you’re here, I might as well let you know that we’ve recently gone totally nuts for homemade crazy milks. And incidentally, we’re also head-over-heels crazy about homemade nut milks. See anything unusual about this story yet? No? Maybe I’m just being paranoid that you’ll find us a little eccentric.
The first time I made cashew milk in my Vitamix, I felt positively omnipotent. One minute I stood in front of a cup of raw cashews and three cups of water. The next minute, I had four cups of the whitest, creamiest milk I’d ever seen. Who was I? A cow? A goddess? A pair of boobs?
Non-dairy milks and creams are weirdly easy to make at home. They’re incredibly useful for vegans but can also add welcome variety and healthfulness to an omnivore’s diet. Packaged varieties abound in the supermarkets these days, but for optimum taste and nutrition, it’s so much better (and barely more difficult) to start with whole foods and whizz them up yourself. You can make non-dairy milk from any number of dry ingredients. I’m just beginning to explore different combinations and will report back in more depth one day soon. But for now, here’s a simple, oddly empowering recipe to get you started.
Use almond or cashew milk any way you would use dairy milk, from drinking to cooking. Many people prefer the taste and nutritional profile of almond milk for day-to-day use. Cashew milk and cashew cream are especially great to cook with because they’re very creamy and they thicken beautifully and reliably when heated. Crazy or no, hope you’ll give nuts a try one day soon.
Recipe: Homemade Almond or Cashew Milk
This recipe is for basic, unflavored almond or cashew milk, which is quite delicious as is and very versatile in sweet and savory recipes. If you’d like to flavor it, try adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract and two tablespoons of maple syrup before blending, and maybe a dash of ground cinnamon and nutmeg. To make cashew cream, which works brilliantly to add lifelike creaminess to both cooked and raw vegan dishes, reduce the water to one cup and blend until completely smooth.* I’ll talk more about cashew cream in a later post.
- 1 cup raw almonds or cashews
- 3 cups water, plus more for soaking
- Place the nuts in a medium bowl and cover completely with water. Soak nuts for eight hours, or overnight. Drain and discard liquid and rinse nuts thoroughly. Soaking both softens the nuts and makes their nutrients more available for our bodies.
- Pour three cups of water into the blender and add the nuts. Cover and blend for about two minutes, until very white and smooth. For cashews, there should be no remaining nut pulp and no need to strain.* For almonds, pour the milk through a fine-mesh strainer lined with two layers of cheesecloth (or through a nut milk or paint strainer bag). Press until no more liquid drains out. Then use the milk and reserve the almond pulp to add to baked goods, cereals, etc. Milk keeps, tightly sealed, in the fridge for about three days.
* Since I didn’t start making nut milks until I got my Vitamix, I don’t have any personal experience making them in a regular blender. The internets confirm that it is eminently do-able, but if you do end up with some pulp or nut pieces after blending, by all means, strain the cashews as I’ve described for almonds. Nut milks should be completely smooth and creamy, without any bits or grit.
Preparation time: 8 hours, including soaking
Cooking time: 2 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 4 cups