The 5 Essential Non-Dairy Milk Recipes You Need to Master

Plant-based or non-dairy milk is creamy and delicious! It’s also free of cholesterol and hormones and lower in sugar than cow’s milk. Plus, it’s a boon for anyone who is lactose-intolerant or allergic to dairy, or those who are following vegan, paleo, and kosher diets. (According to the NIH, 65% of people older than 2-3 are lactose-intolerant.) Even better, these milks are varied and novel.

They’re also incredibly easy to prepare. All you need is water plus the solid ingredient, such as raw nuts,...MORE seeds, grains, and soybeans, or fresh coconuts. Equipment-wise, the only essentials are a large bowl and a blender. In some cases, a nut milk bag or fine strainer lined with cheesecloth is nice to have.

By preparing your own versions of vegan milks, you can customize the end results. If you’d prefer a thicker beverage, use less water. For a thinner version, use more. If you’re making a dessert featuring cardamom and cinnamon, try whipping up pistachio milk. If you’re planning to prepare an Asian soup or stew, try soy. For versatility, leave the milk unflavored. However, if you’re going to drink it plain, you might want to flavor it with salt, sweetener, or spices. You can also fortify the milk with calcium or protein.

Read on for how to DIY five different types: nut, seed, soy, coconut, and grain.

Nut milk is popular for a reason: it’s incredibly flavorful. Along with seed milk, it’s also the easiest to DIY. To prepare it, soak two cups of raw, unsalted nuts for several hours in water. After soaking, rinse and drain. Transfer to a blender, add five cups of water, and blend until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Strain over a large bowl, using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth-lined fine strainer. You will yield about five cups of milk.

Seed milk is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Try 1/2 cup of pumpkin, flax, or hemp seeds or white quinoa. Soak the larger seeds and quinoa for several hours in water, then rinse and drain. Add to the blender, along with four cups of water. Strain. You will yield four or five cups of milk.

Soy milk is as high in protein as dairy milk, plus full of calcium. Since it’s naturally thick and creamy, it’s the most similar to cow’s milk. To make it, soak 1/2 cup of dried soy beans for several hours in water. If you’re concerned about GMOs, look for organic beans. After soaking, rinse and drain. Cook the beans by steaming over a couple of inches of boiling water until soft, about one hour. Alternatively, boil or pressure-cook. Once your beans have cooked, transfer to a blender. Add three cups water, and puree until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Strain. You will yield about three cups of milk.

Sweet and ultra-rich and creamy, coconut milk takes slightly more work to prepare—but is worth it. Pick two brown, hairy coconuts whose contents slosh around when shaken (this means they are full of coconut water). With a screwdriver, poke holes into the eyes of the coconuts, then pour the coconut water inside (1/2 to 1-1/3 cups total) into a strainer-lined bowl. Add coconut water to a blender. Place a clean kitchen towel over the fruit, then hack open with a mallet or hammer. Using a paring knife, carefully cut the white flesh away from the brown shell (discard the brown parts). Place the white flesh (3-6 cups) into the blender. Add 2-3 cups hot water and blend until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Strain. You will yield 3-5 cups of milk.

Grain milk is creamy and fiber-rich. To make it, soak ½ cup of raw grains (such as short-grain brown rice, amaranth, millet, or barley) for several hours in water. After soaking, rinse and drain. Cook according to the package directions. Transfer the cooked grain to a blender. Add four cups water, and puree until smooth, 1-2 minutes. You will yield about five cups milk (the grains tend to break down in the milk, removing the need for straining and leaving no solids).

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    Finished Creamy, Fresh Homemade Nut Milk

    Fresh, Creamy, Homemade Nut Milk
    Fresh, Creamy, Homemade Nut Milk. Dina Cheney

    Keep homemade plant-based milk in the fridge for 3-4 days.

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    Nut Milk Bags Help to Strain Plant-Based Milk

    Nut Milk Bag
    A nut milk bag helps to perfectly strain homemade plant-based milk. Dina Cheney

    You can find nut milk bags on my dairy-free resource site, www.thenewmilks.com.

Creamy, delicious dairy-free milk in just minutes...

Soon, you’ll be preparing a couple of varieties a week! Just remember to begin soaking the raw nuts, beans, grains, and some of the seeds the night before. The next morning, in just a few minutes, you’ll have a variety of fresh and creamy milks! For more on dairy-free milk, check out my cookbook: THE NEW MILKS; 100-PLUS DAIRY-FREE RECIPES FOR MAKING AND COOKING WITH SOY, NUT, SEED, GRAIN, AND COCONUT MILKS, and visit my dairy-free resource site: www.thenewmilks.com.