Friday, January 1, 2010

Introduction and How-To

Hello! Welcome to my New Year's resolution. Just a little introduction and we'll get down to the fun stuff. I'm 25 years old and have been married to The Hubby for almost five years. We have a son, BuggaBoo, who just turned two, and Baby due mid-February sometime. BuggaBoo and I are vegan, The Hubby is 98% vegan. Our family belongs to the LDS faith. We love being thrifty and creative in finding solutions to our everyday dilemmas. The Hubby has been bugging me for a while to start a blog and keep track of what I do in hopes that it could help/inspire others, so here we go!

This morning BuggaBoo and I rolled out of bed late due to the fact that it's New Year's Day and we stayed up until 1:00am. I woke up before him and as I lay there nursing him I made plans to make some new cloth diaper covers. BuggaBoo has almost grown out of his current size and a lot of his vinyl covers have ripped. I was even thinking about how best to set it up into a tutorial to make into a blog post. However, BuggaBoo had different plans…

He decided he needed some milk. He needed milk Right Now. And I was silly and didn't make any last night. So today you're getting a how-to on making nut milk from scratch and you're just going to have to wait for the diaper cover tutorial. Sorry.

Step One: Get your toddler helper.

Step Two: Gather your supplies. What you see here, from left to right, is:

Raw sunflower seeds
Raw cashews
Calcium citrate pills
Oster 18-speed blended (specific brand not needed)
Never-been-used canning lid with ring
Coffee grinder
Large bowl
Glass quart jar
Not pictured: Pan large enough to hold one quart of water and a heat-proof, water-proof glove. I use a canning glove, but a CLEAN dishwashing glove may work.

Step Three: Fill your quart jar with water. Pour the water into a saucepan and heat to a boil. Do the following steps while you're waiting for the water to boil.

Step four: Measure your nuts. This small cup holds a half a cup. It's hard to tell but I'm using a mixture of sunflower seeds and cashews.

Step Five: Put two calcium tablets in the coffee grinder. I like to put them in first so they break up more easily.

Step six: Put the nuts in coffee grinder.

Step seven: Let the toddler helper grind the nuts. He'll find this very exciting. Grind as finely as you can without turning your nuts into nut butter.

Step eight: Put the ground nuts into the blender and add about 1 ½ c of boiling water. Starting slowly mix the ground nuts and water in the blender. Be careful! You're working with very hot water to help the calcium dissolve. If you are skipping the calcium you can use just hot water. After the ground nuts are mixed with the water stop the blender and add the rest of the water. Again, starting slowly, blend the mixture. Get your blender up to the highest speed it has. Blend for two minutes.

Step nine: While the milk is blending get your cheesecloth ready to strain the milk. Also get your glove ready.

Step ten: Pour the milk into the cheesecloth-lined bowl.

Step eleven: Strain the milk. Even with my glove on the milk is very hot. Please do not burn yourself or your toddler helper. If you don't have a heat-proof glove wait for your milk to cool before straining it. I push my milk through the cloth to speed the process but I end up with a slightly gritty product. If you want silky smooth milk let it drip naturally or strain it twice. You can also double up your cheesecloth.

Step twelve: Pour the milk into the quart jar and add a small pinch of salt. Put the lid on tightly and shake it up. Use a lid that has never been used for canning. You can use this lid repeatedly, so don't throw it away. At this point store the milk in your fridge or…

Step thirteen: Console your toddler helper when he discovers you didn't buy bananas this week.

Step fourteen: Let him drink some milk!

I make my nut milk from a mixture of raw cashews and raw sunflower kernels. I'm slowly building up to using 100% sunflower seeds, but the taste is rather strong so we'll see how far I get. Using sunflower seed milk is just fine for cooking, it mellows the strong flavor. So far I use a 50/50 mixture for drinking. You can use any nut or seed to make milk. Lots of people love almond milk but I don't use them because A) They are more expensive than cashews and B) The Hubby's mom has an almond allergy, so we like to be careful.

I also add two calcium citrate tablets to the nuts to fortify the milk. Two tablets have 500 mg of calcium, or half of your daily allowance. That would mean a cup of my milk will have at least 125 mg of calcium, excluding any calcium I get from the nuts. A cup of non-fat cow milk has 300 mg per cup.

I buy raw cashew pieces at Winco (a local bulk grocery store) for about $2.80/lb. Raw sunflower kernels are $1.10/lb. I think the calcium citrate ran me $10.00 for 300 tablets, but I'm not sure on that one yet. I need to find the receipt. I use a half a cup of nuts for a quart of milk. If I used 100% cashews it would cost me $0.43/quart for the nuts and about $0.07 for the calcium, a grand total of $0.50/quart. If I use a 50/50 mix of nuts and seeds the price drops to $0.36/quart, including calcium. If I use 100% sunflower seeds the price is $0.22/quart, once again including calcium.

I add a little bit of salt to my nut milks. Why? Well, cow milk has 127 mg of sodium per cup, and if you don't add salt to your milk it will taste a bit "off". Is this bad? No, you can certainly get used to unsalted milk, which I plan on doing very soon. You may notice that I didn't add flavorings or sweeteners to my milk. Feel free to add any flavoring you want. Surprisingly lemon flavoring goes well with cashews. We just want BuggaBoo to appreciate the taste of natural food, so we don't flavor a lot of things.

Last quick note: This milk will separate in the fridge. Just shake before using. Also, if you use sunflower seeds the milk will take on a curdled appearance in the fridge. Once again, a good shake takes care of that problem.

So, let's see… Introduction? Check. Long rambly post? Check. Lots of pictures? Check. I think this post is done! Thanks for reading and enjoy any milk you make.


  1. Congratulations on the new blog and thanks for the nut milk recipe! Happy New Year!

  2. Yay! Love the instructions and the pictures of BuggaBoo :D :D Especially the Bannana part lol.

  3. Jay was asking why The Hubby was only 98% vegan, is that because he drinks 2% milk?

    HA HA HA. Get it, it's funny. He was cracking up for about a minute before he would let me in on his little joke. He thinks he's so funny.

  4. Heather- Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you found the recipe useful. And Happy New Year!

    Jillyn- I love that you posted twice. With different names. And BuggaBoo was *very* sad there were no bananas. And Jay is a hoot.

  5. Just did a quick scan, and I love that the first post is about making nut milk. We have been talking off and on about taking the twins off of cow milk and putting them on soy or some such milk. The antics the last couple of days have only reinforced this decision as the twins were given cow milk for the first time in over a week, and the attitudinal transformation in them was extremely noticeable. Without it Tiernan is a kind, gentle, loving older brother, and Caulla is a fun loving little girl. With it Tiernan goes into his bully/monster routine, which now includes acting like a monster, including the growls. Caulla turns into a whiny, shrinking violet of a child who is afraid of her own shadow. They don't seem to like hemp milk, but we have given them soy milk in the past without problems. We are going to slowly start mixing the alternate milks into the cow milk, gradually increasing the portions of alternate milk until we have them fully switched over to the alternate.

    That said, this guide will make a great reference piece for us when we get to the point of making our own alternate type of milk. Also, with our plans of switching to locally grown food sources we are intending to try to use almonds and hazelnuts for things like this, making it even more useful for us. :)

  6. This is really neat Krista.My only question is how long can you store nut milk in the fridge?

  7. Good question! I've noticed my milk stays nice for about two days. After that is starts tasting a bit sharp. It would probably be okay for cooking at that point, but use it right away.

    Geoff- I'm glad I could help out! You can make soy milk at home but it's a bit more labor intensive because you have to boil the milk before it's edible. There's a lot of sites that have soy milk how-to's.

  8. Nice blog, Krista! Thanks for sharing. I grew up drinking almond & cashew milk, which my dad would make at home. When I was a teen we started drinking soymilk so I don't remember how he used to make it. I'm glad to see that I have a reference now for trying it again! I do remember that especially with the cashew milk there would be a layer of creamy foam that rose to the top after he would blend it & that was always my favorite part. :)
    Anyways, just a question, is it necessary to blend the calcium & boiling water *with* the nuts or could I just blend the calcium & boiling water together first? The reason is, I'd like the nuts to not be heated up so much to help keep more of their nutrition. Is there a reason for heating up the nuts - is it necessary in order for the milk to turn out? Does that make sense? :)

  9. finally! I love this and I love you!! I'm so so so glad you are blogging now so I can steal all your ideas. I mean, borrow. I said "borrow" right? This blog is making me seriously miss winco in a bad way. That was one of my favorite Oregon discoveries. I kinda want to try your nut milk. I can't stand drinking cow's milk and soy milk made me itch in an allergic sort of way. Not to mention even rice milk is pricey... I'm feeling challenged and I love it.

  10. DW- I'm sure you could just boil the calcium. The pills don't grind well in the coffee grinder when there's just two. I could think of two solutions to this: 1) Try grinding the pills in the blender with your boiling water. Less water would be better in this case, or 2) Grind a lot of pills at once, use a measuring spoon, and still blend it with the boiling water beforehand. I think I would try number one first. I love raw cashew milk, but I'm too lazy/too much in a hurry most days to wait for my water to cool.

    Nica- Hi! Steal away, seriously. And Winco is the best, isn't it? There's gotta be something similar on your side of the country.

  11. question-could i use cal-mag pills?

  12. Jillyn, I'm pretty sure that would be okay. Actually, I know it would be awesome.