How to make dairy-free milk
Oat and nut milks are ideal for those following a dairy-free diet – and they're surprisingly simple to make at home. We show you how easy it is to make your own.
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Supermarket shelves are increasingly stocked with alternatives to traditional cow's milk, with oat and nut varieties among the most popular choices for us to pop in our shopping baskets. But is shop-bought the best option?
We set out to discover just how easy and economical these dairy-free drinks are to make at home. Follow our cookery team's top tips, and get soaking, blitzing and squeezing to make these vegan milks...
How to make oat milk
Prep: 25 mins plus at least 4 hrs soaking
Makes approx. 850ml
- 100g oats
- Put the oats in a large bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak, covered, overnight or for at least 4 hrs.
- Drain and rinse the oats, then tip into a blender with a pinch of salt and 750ml cold water. Whizz until smooth. Pour the mixture into a muslin-lined sieve placed over a jug and allow it to drip through. Gently stir the mixture with a spoon to speed up the process (be patient – the mixture will be viscous and may take a while to filter through the muslin).
- When most of the liquid has dripped through into the jug, gather the sides of the muslin together and squeeze tightly with both hands to extract the last of the milk. Whisk in 50ml of cold water.
How to make almond milk
Prep: 25 mins plus at least 4 hrs soaking
Makes approx. 800ml
- 150g whole almonds
- Put the almonds in a large bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak, covered, overnight or for at least 4 hrs.
- Drain and rinse the almonds, then tip into a blender with 750ml cold water. Whizz until smooth. Pour the mixture into a muslin-lined sieve placed over a jug and allow it to drip through. Gently stir the mixture with a spoon to speed up the process.
- When most of the liquid has dripped through into the jug, gather the sides of the muslin together and squeeze tightly with both hands to extract the last of the milk.
Top tips for making dairy-free milks
Soaking oats or nuts overnight will result in a creamier, more nutritious milk, but if you're pushed for time, a couple of hours soaking will still yield good results.
Sweeten it up
If you prefer a more sweetly flavoured milk, add 1-2 pitted medjool dates before blending. Alternatively, you could stir through a couple of drops of vanilla essence or ½ tbsp maple syrup. A pinch of cinnamon or salt will further enhance the flavour.
Buy in bulk
If you're planning to make nut milk frequently, buying nuts in bulk can be cheaper. Still feeling the pinch? You can even use a combination of seeds (such as sunflower seeds) and nuts to bring the cost down further.
Use leftover pulp in baking
Don't let leftover nut pulp be relegated to the rubbish bin. You can use the leftover almond pulp in baking – we used it in our lighter lemon drizzle cake with delicious results. Leftover cashew pulp can be used to make a quick dip – simply combine the pulp with 1 tbsp tahini, the juice from 1 lemon, a pinch each of smoked paprika and cumin and 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle over a little za'atar, smoked paprika and a drizzle of olive oil, then get stuck in – crudités at the ready!
Stir it up
As homemade milks don't have any added emulsifiers, they will separate, but this is nothing to worry about – simply give it a good stir before using each time.
Other dairy-free milks
As part of our investigations, we also tried making coconut and rice milks – however, we wouldn't recommend making these at home. We found that the sheer amount of coconut we had to buy to get a creamy consistency for the coconut milk meant it would be much more economical to buy it from a shop. Our homemade rice milk also separated extremely quickly and was too thin to pass as 'milk'. Shop-bought varieties tend to have emulsifiers, oil and preservatives in them to improve the consistency and give a longer shelf-life, so we'd recommend buying the occasional bottle rather than making rice milk from scratch.
Have you made any dairy-free milks at home? We'd love to hear your tips – let us know in the comments below...