nondairy milk at home

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Stop me if this is a story you already know: my stomach and milk do not get along at all. Years ago when I finally gave up on milk I started my nondairy milk substitute journey with soy milk (and who knew it would be a journey?). Then I switched to almond milk. Lately I’ve been eying the other options in the case – cashew and coconut mostly. But sometimes I eye the price tag and get annoyed. Or take a look at the ingredients list and get annoyed. Those days I often go home and make my own.

nondairy milk |
making nondairy milk at home

Reasons to make your nondairy at home:

1 You know what you’re getting – more of the good stuff (commercially prepared almond milk contains very few actual almonds) and less of the bad stuff (who needs fillers?)

2 Convenience – that moment after dinner when you realize you have nothing to make your morning oatmeal with and you. just. do. not. want. to go grocery shopping? I almost always have the right ingredients on hand for some version of this alternative milk.

3 Taste – ’nuff said.

4 Cost –  Homemade almond or cashew milk is more expensive than store-bought. But homemade oat or rice milk is crazy cheap. I use a blend to get the benefits of the protein in the nuts as well as the benefits of the frugal oats and rice.

5 Customizability – this is the reason I first learned to make almond milk. I wanted to give a friend with thyroid cancer an option for when she had to go iodine free. You can shift up the amount of salt or play around with ratios of almonds to oat – whatever your nondairy heart desires. I love that if I don’t feel like going to the trouble to cook and cool rice I don’t have to include it in my blend. Or if I don’t have enough cashews I can stick with almond. The list goes on.

Also – I love the pretty bottles of alternative milk in my fridge.

Reasons not to make your own nondairy milk:

1 Convenience – for me the grocery store trip is close enough that if I can drag myself to the car it’s as fast to just pick up the milk there – and that’s if you only count the active work time on the recipe.

2 Convenience (again)- I find using a nut bag or cheesecloth to strain the milk to be ridiculously tedious. So I don’t. I put it through a fine mesh strainer once or twice and deal with a little graininess at the bottom. Your mileage may vary. (This doesn’t apply to cashew milk, by the way. Cashew milk does not need to be strained.) If you want super smooth milk, it will be high maintenance to make at home – you might want to stick with store-bought.

3 Cost – If you are dead set on nut milks only (and don’t mind that you’re not getting very much in the way of actual nuts in your nut milk) store-bought is a better deal.

So, there are plenty of reasons to stick with your store-bought almond milk. And plenty to try making it at home. It’s not like this is a lifetime choice. Make the homemade stuff sometimes, buy the store-bought stuff sometimes. That’s how I roll.

Since I tend to do a blend of Almond, Oat, Cashew and Rice I’ve been trying for ages to come up with a name that plays on the first lettters of each. But I have too many pronounceable options and none of them sits quite right! Should it be ACRO milk? ROCA milk? ARCO, RACO, COAR? I think I lean most towards CORA milk – but I’m still not settled on it. What do you think?

If you want to give it a shot here are some basic directions. Adjust the details (salt, flavorings) to your liking. Many recipes call for dates to give a little bit of sweetness to your alt milk. I use raisins instead since they are such a staple in my kitchen.

Almond milk:
1/2 cup almonds
Soak in water overnight. Drain and puree in 2 cups of water with a pinch of salt and a few raisins.
Strain, add a little vanilla extract and chill.
Oat milk:
3/4 cup steel cut oats
Soak in water overnight. Drain and puree in 2 1/4 cups of water with a pinch of salt and a few raisins.
Strain, add a little vanilla extract and chill.
Cashew milk:
3/4 cup cashews
Soak in water overnight. Drain and puree in 2 1/2 cups of water with a pinch of salt.
Do not strain. Add a little vanilla extract and chill.
Rice milk:
1/2 cup brown rice (I use brown jasmine as that is the standard brown rice I keep on hand)
Cook. Cool. Puree with 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt and a few raisins.
Strain, add a little vanilla extract and chill.

Oat and Quinoa Porridge

ingredient list

The microwave, it has to be said, has not been pulling its weight around here. It’s a small kitchen, and the bigger the appliance’s footprint, the more it needs to produce to earn that footprint. The blender understands this. After all, everyone saw what happened to the toaster that used to occupy the blender’s corner. The microwave…well, the microwave is a pain to clean. It takes up the entire top of the refrigerator and makes the cupboard behind it all but unusable. And the microwave is really used for just one thing – reheating this porridge.

Oat and Quinoa Porridge
Oat and Quinoa Porridge

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Or at least, I know what I thought. Porridge is for punishing fairy tale characters.  And could leftover oatmeal ever be appetizing? Then I realized how easily this reheats – beating hands down any instant version of oatmeal you’ve ever tried. And the quinoa gives it a lightness you wouldn’t believe possible of porridge.

Make a big pot of this. Have your fill and put the leftovers away. Spoon it into a bowl every morning with a splash of your favorite milk. Give the microwave one more day’s reprieve and zap it for a minute and a half or so. Fill your belly with this hearty warm goodness. See if it doesn’t make you happier to face the chill of November.

Oat & Quinoa Porridge

Serves 3 or 4

1/3 cup Quinoa, rinsed
1/3 cup Rolled Oats
1/3 cup Steel-Cut Oats
1 1/2 cup Milk
1/2 cup Apple Cider
1 cup Water
1 pinch Salt

Combine milk, water, and cider in pot. Bring to a boil. Add quinoa, rolled oats, steel-cut oats and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until tender.

Variations: This recipe grew out of my playing around with April Bloomfield’s English Porridge. Try playing with it yourself. Total one part grains or seeds with 3 parts liquid. I’m going to try Wheateena (toasted cracked wheat) in the mix next.

Topping ideas: toasted almonds, berries, a dollop of yogurt, apple butter, jam, butter, honey, syrup, toasted coconut….