For years and years I have been buying and drinking non-dairy ‘milk’ of different sorts, as I have never been able to digest regular milk. First it was soy milk; sweet, thick and delicious. After some time I stopped being able to digest soy, so switched to rice milk. It was thinner and decidedly not as delicious, but I made do with it for many years. Then came the news about rice and arsenic, and though I still have my reservations about whether this is really a threat, I couldn’t keep feeding my boy something that could potentially harm him. So we switched to almond milk, and had been enjoying it for a while now. Lately though, I have been reading about carrageenan, a thickener in many non-dairy milks that has shown in some studies to have a detrimental effect on some individual’s GI tracts (read more about this here and here…and now I just found out it’s in my sliced turkey too. DOH!!). Well no one needs any extra inflammation in their lives, and anyone who knows me knows I certainly do not need any extra GI irritation. Now, you should know that carrageenan is still on the FDA’s list of approved organic ingredients, but personally, I don’t really have a whole lot of faith in the FDA and their many lists.
Anyhoo, I have been seeking out milks that do not include carageenan for the past few months, and some have proven to be better than others, but then I started to wonder about these other ingredients too. Take a look at this:
I’m pretty OK with cane sugar and salt…but Locust Bean Gum?? Gellan Gum?? What are these and why do we need them?
So I’ve been hearing how easy and amazing it is to make your own nut milk, and also how beneficial it is to soak your nuts and seeds before consuming them. So I finally gave it a shot. I do own a Vitamix, so all I really needed was a nut milk bag (everyone seems to hate this particular combination of words so I’ve been trying to throw ‘nut milk bag’ into my conversations as often as possible lately).
I started with almond milk, and it was good, but there was a bitterness that comes with raw almonds that I just couldn’t get past. So this week I tried cashew milk..HELLO! It is so creamy and delicious and SO easy to make, I don’t think I will ever go back to that stinky boxed milk again. I am excited to experiment with other nuts and seeds so I will keep you posted. But for now, here is how cashew milk goes. It’s still somewhat experimental right now, so just go with what feels right to you, you can’t really go wrong with cashews.
(Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free)
Adapted from The Shiksa in the Kitchen
3/4 cup raw, unsalted cashews
4 cups filtered water
1-2 dates, pitted (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
pinch of sea salt (optional)
Soak cashews in filtered water for 4-6 hours, no longer. Apparently cashews can be finicky when it comes to soaking ; most “raw” cashews have been heat treated and can become a bit slimy if soaked too long. Drain and rinse well. Combine cashews, water, dates, vanilla, and sea salt if using in the blender and puree for 1-2 minutes until a smooth consistency is reached.
Strain milk through a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or nut milk bag. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
This is the only downfall that I can see of homemade nut milk. It doesn’t last as long. Also, I have to say that with the cashews I don’t even think I needed to strain it, as there was barely an sediment left in my nut milk bag. But that will probably depend on the blender you use and how smooth you like it. Also, you could sweeten with honey or maple syrup too, or not at all if you like it that way or plan to use it in a savory dish. I was wondering if I could make an unsweetened version and freeze it to use in dishes when I need it. I’m not sure how well it will freeze, so I will keep you posted on that too.
But don’t you worry, I have found some other uses for my NUT MILK BAG, which I will let you in on soon! In the meantime, I’d love to hear about anyone else’s nut milk adventures and how they turned out. Here is my first smoothie made with homemade nut milk, spinach, banana, and peach. YUM!