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When dry nuts are blended, their fats stick together. The result is nut butter. When nuts are soaked first, however, the fats stay behind in a watery suspension known as nut milk. Almond milk is the most common nut milk, but any nut — including Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts (filberts), macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts — can be made into nut milk. Nut milk can be transformed into nut cheese, nut yogurt and even nut ice cream. To learn how to turn nut milk into nut cheese, check out Big Vegan by Robin Asbell. Yield: 3 cups strained nut milk.
1 cup nut pieces, raw or dry-roasted (without oil)
Optional additions: 1 tsp cinnamon or nutmeg, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp honey
In a lidded container, soak nuts in enough water to cover them by about an inch. Store the container in the refrigerator for a minimum of 8 hours, or up to a week. Drain, rinse the nuts and replace the water daily if you’re holding them for more than 8 hours.
After soaking the nuts, rinse them in clean water. Add the nuts to a blender or food processor along with 3 to 4 cups of fresh water (use less water for creamier milk). Blend thoroughly. At this point, the nut milk is entirely usable, but will be thick and slightly chunky. To thin the milk to a finer consistency, strain the mixture through cheesecloth, a jelly bag, a cloth sprouting bag or a nut milk bag.
(Reserve the leftover nut meal for use in baked goods or as a crust for baked fish filets or meat cutlets. For best results, first dry out the nut meal in an oven on a low setting.)
Taste the milk, and stir in sweeteners and seasonings to your liking, or add flavorings at the time of use. Cover and refrigerate; store the milk for up to 5 days, stirring before use. Nut milk and extra soaked almonds also may be frozen for up to 3 months.
Try almond milk in rice puddings and cocoa, pecan milk over fruit desserts, and cashew milk in pilafs and curries.
Want to find more uses for nuts? See Using Healthy Nuts in the Kitchen: 3 Easy Nut Recipes.
Photo By Tim Nauman