I remember, just about a year ago, I was gleaming with pride when I bought my first ever carton of organic almond milk from my local supermarket. I thought it was going to make my morning smoothie take me to heaven and back on a magic carpet ride. Boy, did my hopes crash quickly when I opened up my carton and poured out its content to discover this gross pale, watery slop. Horrified, I quickly turned the carton around in search for the ingredients list and this was what I found:
Ingredients List: Filtered Australian Water, Organic Almonds (3%), Organic Agave Syrup, Organic Sunflower Oil, Salt.
97% water! Holy smokes, who in their right mind would call that milk? If anything, it should be called bloody expensive almond-flavoured water. It was so disgusting it went straight down the sink. From there on, I vowed to never buy shop-bought nut milk ever again.
The good news is, nut milk is incredibly easy to make. It’s wonderfully nutty, luxuriously silky and subtly sweet. Most nut milk recipes suggest adding some form of flavouring or sweetener but I like mine as it is. I have also found it to be just as versatile as regular dairy milk. For this entry, I opted for raw organic hazelnuts purely because I like the taste better. Feel free to use any other kind of nuts.
Quick tip: Prepare only the amount of milk you need for the next day or so as they don’t keep for more than 2-3 days. If possible, avoid using stale nuts. I definitely recommend investing in a nut milk bag which costs around $10 and can be found at most health food shops or on the internet. Having a good blender certainly helps too.
HOMEMADE HAZELNUT MILK
Makes: 2-3 cups
Prep time: Under 10 minutes
1 cup raw hazelnuts, preferably organic
2-3 cups filtered or distilled water
1/2 tsp vanilla or cinnamon (optional)
sweetener eg. 2 dates, pinch of stevia, 1 tbsp honey etc (optional)
tiny pinch of salt (optional)
1. Soak hazelnuts in 3-4 cups of water for 8-12 hours. The nuts will be afloat. Soaking removes bitter enzyme inhibitors and improves digestibility and nutrient bioavailability. Drain and thoroughly rinse soaked hazelnuts.
2. With a powerful blender, blend nuts in 2-3 cups of water until well blended and smooth. Takes about a minute or so. I recommend starting with just 2 cups of water before gradually adding more to suit your taste. I find 2.5 cups hits the spot for me, not too thick nor too thin.
3. Strain with a nut milk bag or cheesecloth. Keep refrigerated in an air tight bottle for up to 3 days. Any longer, it will turn into what looks like silken tofu? Leftover pulp can be dehydrated on low heat in the oven and kept as hazelnut meal.