How to make, use & store different nut milks

Cashew milk - very smooth and creamy

Home-made cashew nut milk

It’s so easy to make your own nut milk and you’ll also save a ton of cash doing it. Here’s my guide to making three of the tastiest and most versatile varieties: almond milk, cashew milk and coconut milk.

What you need

  • Nuts/coconut
  • Mineral/filtered water
  • Nut milk bag/cheesecloth/muslin/unused, clean nylon stocking

Tip: Be on the look-out for wholesale shops, or buy bags of broken nuts – they’re usually much cheaper than whole nuts, and if you’re using them to make milk, flour or butter, it doesn’t matter if they’re all crushed up.

Almond milk

So much cheaper than buying it ready-made, and you can store batches in the freezer. It has a deep nutty flavour.

What to use it for: Use in tea or coffee; pour over cereal; use in baking or cooking; add to smoothies or raw desserts; use it to make dairy-free yoghurt, or simply enjoy on its own.

How to store it: In sterilised containers in the fridge for 2 to 4 days, or completely cooled and then frozen in batches.

Benefits of almond milk: Low in calories, loaded with vitamins such as A and D, rich in calcium and phosphorus, free of saturated fats and cholesterol and full of healthy fats.

Reasons to make your own: Much cheaper than store-bought; fresher.

How to make it:

(see my step-by-step guide with images here).

Soak 2 cups of raw, blanched almonds in water overnight. Drain, rinse and add to a blender with 4 cups of water. Pulse a few times to break up the nuts, then blend on high speed for ten minutes. Optional: Add honey or maple syrup if you desire a sweeter milk.

Strain through a sieve lined with a nut milk bag and squeeze all the milk out – see below:

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Don’t discard the almond pulp! Instead, spread it out on a baking tray and bake it at low temperature for about 3 hours, until dry. You now have almond meal to use in baking, smoothies or for a protein boost, or you can throw it into your food processor (when it’s cool) and process until you have almond flour.

Cashew milk

One of the creamiest of all the nut milks, and also one of the easiest to make because you don’t need to strain it.

What to use it for: Thanks to its creamy flavour and refreshing taste, many people enjoy drinking it on its own. It can also be used in cereal, hot drinks and smoothies, or to make yoghurt or ice cream. See my coconut and cashew yoghurt recipe here.

How to store it: In sterilised containers in the fridge for 2 or 3 days, or cooled completely and then frozen in batches.

Benefits of cashew milk: You get a big nutrient bang for your buck – iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and zinc – plus loads of protein and fibre.

Reasons to make your own: Can be hard to find in the shops; much cheaper to make your own; always fresh.

How to make it:

Soak one cup of raw, preferably organic cashews in water overnight. Strain, rinse and then place in a blender with 3 to 4 cups of water (depending on how creamy you want it). Pulse a few times to break up the nuts, and then blend on high for a few minutes. Give it a stir to make sure all the nuts have been broken down – if not, process for a few more minutes.

Allow to stand for 15 minutes, then scoop the foamy layer off the top. Drink immediately, use in a recipe or store.

The Blender Girl offers this helpful tip for choosing cashews:

Always purchase from a supplier where there is a high turnover to ensure freshness and quality. Look for plump cashews that are uniform in colour. Avoid the limp and shrivelled ones. Cashews should smell nutty and sweet. If they have a sharp or bitter smell they have gone rancid. To preserve the precious oils, store cashews in a sealed glass jar in the fridge for up to six months. Always soak cashews before using to remove the enzyme inhibitors and make them more digestible.

Coconut milk

This is one of the cheapest nut milks to make and also extremely versatile. I love whipping up a fresh batch whenever I’m preparing the rest of my ingredients for a curry.

What to use it for: In curries (especially Indian, Thai and Asian curries); in desserts – both raw and baked; in smoothies, soups and cocktails; over cereal, in stews and even in breakfast foods. Use it to add an exotic sweet tang to almost anything you like, or use it to make a delicious, dairy-free yoghurt (see recipe above).

How to store it: Fresh coconut is best consumed right away or stored overnight in the fridge. Otherwise, as with other nut milks, allow to cool completely and then freeze in sterilised containers. If you are fortunate enough to have access to fresh coconuts, here’s a great step-by-step guide to making fresh coconut milk.

Benefits of coconut milk: High in vitamins including vitamins C, E and B3, B5 and B6, and contains fibre, iron, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. It should however be consumed in moderation, especially if you’re watching your waistline. Lower the KJ count by making it ‘lite’ – simply dilute it more.

Reasons to make your own: Much cheaper than store-bought, always fresh, no dodgy additives, preservatives or other unhealthy ingredients; can be lower in kilojoules.

How to make it:

Add 1 cup of fresh grated coconut or dry/dessicated coconut to a blender with 1.5 – 2 cups of warm (not boiling) water. The less water you use, the thicker and creamier it will be. Pulse a few times, then blend on high for about 5 minutes. Pour the milk through a sieve lined with a nut milk bag and strain, squeezing out as much of the milk as you can. Discard the pulp.

Please feel free to share any other nut milk recipes you have, as well as any ideas for using, storing and enjoying your nut milk. Cheers! 😉

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Day 78: A jar and a spoon…

…is all that’s left of the almond butter I opened… on Friday. This is why I shouldn’t buy things like this! I have absolutely no self control.

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I love nut butters. LOVE. On SCD, particularly the early phases, there’s not much ‘naughty food’ to binge on. Not that nut butter is particularly naughty, but of course it is very high in calories and I suspect nut butters make me bloated.

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And of course, peanuts are illegal on SCD plus they’re not *real* nuts… they’re legumes (neh-neh-ne-nehhhh-neh)

Nuts and an SCD belly

Nuts definitely don’t agree with everyone, and in fact they’re known to cause problems for people with damaged guts. Nuts are very hard to digest, and they can be bloating. They can also cause diarrhoea and/or constipation.

It’s recommended that you don’t introduce nuts (even nut milks and nut butters) until you’ve been symptom free for 3 months (for me, it’s going on 4 or 5 months).

I tested almonds quite some time ago when I first made SCD yogurt on phase 2. The first time I made the yogurt, I used unstrained almond milk which meant it had lots of ground-up almonds in it, and that didn’t agree with me (lots of bloating).

I used strained almond milk next, and I tolerated that a lot better (SCD yogurt recipe here). Since then, over the weeks, I’ve introduced coconut milk, cashew butter and macadamia butter. They don’t wreak havoc on my system and I tolerate them well in small amounts, but I doubt I’m doing my body any favours by clocking a jar in 72 hours!

How well do you tolerate nuts? Any tips or advice? And HOW can I stop eating it like a crazy person?!?

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Day 58: A careful introduction of cashews

Today I decided to introduce cashew nut butter to my diet. According to Elaine, you shouldn’t introduce anything nut-based into your diet until you’ve been symptom-free for 3 months. The last time I had UC symptoms was in November 2013, so that’s about 4 months, which is also why I introduced the almond nut yoghurt a few weeks ago.

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Do my ‘tummy bug’-type symptoms over the past 10 days classify as UC symptoms? I have no idea. I don’t include them in the 3 months, because I feel they were a once-off caused by a specific food that my body reacted to on two separate occasions. I could be wrong here but I’m learning as I go. Weigh in by all means!

Anyway, cashew nut butter is actually legal, according to Pecanbread.com, from phase 2. I had about a tablespoon (plus a sneaky extra teaspoon), and it was delicious! So far my stomach feels fine, but it was only about an hour ago.

My OhMega cashew butter. Pricey but worth it, plus it's just pure nuts

My OhMega cashew butter. Pricey but worth it, plus it’s just pure nuts

Quick aside: Length of time it takes for the gut to react to food

One thing I learnt through my awful-but-educational gastric reaction to the carpaccio is that my gut actually can take as long as 24 hours, or even more, to react to a food. I always thought I reacted pretty much straight away or not at all, but I certainly stand corrected. As much as I tried to deny it, I am just like everyone else, and food can take up to 72 hours to cause a reaction in me – which is why each new thing needs to be tested over 3 days.

Why you need to be careful with cashews

On this diet, cashews can be a beneficial addition if you can handle them. They’re full of protein, and they contain healthy fats which you may be lacking, especially at this stage of the diet. In fact, cashews are just incredibly healthy all round.

Well if this is true, everyone who flies on planes should be really, really happy

If this is true, anyone who travels by plane should be really, really happy

However, cashews and nuts in general can be a trigger for people with IBD, and they should be eaten with caution, especially if you’ve reacted to them before. You don’t want to make all this progress on SCD just to undo it with a couple of cashews.

The guys at SCDLifestyle.com refer to nuts as one of the ‘four dark horsemen’ of SCD, which are the four most common foods that they say cause the diet to not work for some people. The others are egg, dairy and fruit. Read more about them here.

Can you tolerate nuts? Are they helping your IBD or hurting it? I’ve always loved nuts but of course I can’t eat them in moderation, so that’s going to be (yet) another challenge…! And to end, here’s a great cashew milk/creamer recipe I’ve just found online. You could probably use it to make SCD yogurt as well.

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SCD yogurt recipe (step by step)

My first batch of SCD yoghurt was delicious, but it didn’t really agree with me, which is sad. You can read more about it here and here. I’ll try it again in the future when my gut has had more time to heal. If you are able to handle nuts, you should definitely give it a try. The flavour was wonderful.

This week, I attempted to make the yoghurt again, this time using almond nut milk instead of whole (ground) almonds. The yoghurt has turned out wonderfully, though I’d make it a bit thicker next time. Here’s how I did it, step by step.

Ingredients

2 cups blanched almonds

Honey

Vanilla extract

Gelatine

Yogurt starters cultures (lactose free if you’re lactose intolerant)

Tools

Blender

Sieve

Cheesecloth, nut milk bag or clean, unused stocking

Medium-large pots

Thermometer

Sterilised jars and spoons

Yogurt maker

Preparing your almonds

About 3 days before you’d like to have your yogurt (remember, this is SCD, so everything takes a little longer!), take 2 cups of blanched almonds and soak them, uncovered, for up to 2 days. You can soak them overnight to shorten the process, but the longer you leave them, the creamier the milk will be.

Working with unblanched almonds: If you, like me, have unblanched almonds, simply plop them into a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes, and then you’ll easily be able to squeeze them out of their skins. K helped me with this, and we turned it into a bit of a competition!

Preparing your almond nut milk

Once you’ve finished soaking your nuts, give them a good rinse, and then add them to your blender with 2 cups of water per cup of nuts – so four cups of water in total. I did mine in two batches. First, pulse the blender a few times to break up the nuts, and then blend at full speed for 2 minutes. The nuts should be nicely broken down at this stage.

Next, you need to strain your milk. Take a sieve and line it with cheesecloth or, in my case, a nut milk bag. Place it over a clean bowl, and pour the nut milk into it.

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Then, gather up the bag or fabric, being careful not to spill, and squeeze out as much of the milk as you can (using clean hands!). You should get about 2 cups of milk for every 1 cup of nuts.

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Storing your almond milk 

I didn’t have time to make my yogurt right away, so I refrigerated the almond milk in clean jars. There’s debate about how long it can last in the fridge – some say 2 days; others say 2 weeks. Your nose will certainly tell you if it has gone off. I added some to my coffee this morning, after 5 days in the fridge, and it seems fine.

Voila - homemade almond milk!

Making your almond milk yogurt

Now the fun part! Heat your almond milk, together with 1 tbsp honey and 1tsp vanilla extract, gently on the stove in a large pot or Dutch oven (I used the latter).  I used 1 litre of milk. Actually, when I say ‘I’, I mean K, because she did this part for me while I was stuck working late!

Keep the heat low and stir constantly to avoid scalding the milk. When it reaches 185F (85C), remove it from the heat. Be sure to stir it before you take temperature readings. Now, let it cool down. I sped up this process by putting the pot in a sink of iced water. Keep an eye on it if you do it this way – it can cool more quickly than you’re expecting.

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In the mean time, mix 4 tsps of gelatin with 1/2 cup room temperature water. I used 3 getaline leaves (1 leaf = 1 tsp), but I definitely think more was required. You might need to play around here.

When the yogurt reaches 110-120F (43-49C), add your gelatine and mix it in using a stick blender. Then, when the yogurt reaches 100F (37/38C), add your yogurt starter, and again use your stick blender to fully incorporate it in the mixture.

How much yogurt starter? The guys at SCDLifestyle.com suggest using 1/8 of a tsp for every 2 quarts, which is what I use. So you’ll need 1/16 of a tsp for 1 litre, if my maths (and conversions!) are correct.

Now, transfer your mixture to your sterilised yogurt maker container (or whatever containers you’re using) and place into your yogurt maker for 12 hours only. Do not touch, shake, move or disturb the yogurt maker at all during this time, as the culturing process is extremely sensitive to movement.

After 12 hours, carefully remove the yogurt from the yogurt maker and allow it to sit for 1 hour. At this point, some people stir the yogurt while others believe that it’s still very sensitive to movement. I don’t touch it. Lastly, place it in the fridge for at least 8 to 10 hours, which allows the gelatine to thicken.

Enjoying your yogurt

My batch is a bit thin, but definitely closer to the consistency and taste of real yoghurt, so I’m really thrilled. I eat mine with some extra honey, as the taste is quite tangy and requires a little sweetening. The honey isn’t necessary though, but you do need to add it to the yogurt to give the cultures something to feed on.

The yogurt will last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you’re just starting out, add it in TINY amounts every day to allow your body to get accustomed to it. The cultures are powerful and you need to be careful. I overdid it on my first go-round, which was a very silly thing to do. It was just so tasty!

My yogurt with a lovely drizzle of pure honey

Day 53: Homemade almond milk

I’m very keen to make SCD yoghurt work for me, but the first batch I made, using ground almonds, seemed to disagree with my gut. Since I still had half a kilo of almonds left, I figured I’d try to make the yoghurt using almond milk instead. It may be easier to digest than actual pieces of nut, and according to the phases on Pecanbread.com, you can introduce nut milks from the second phase.

I used a very easy recipe that I found at theKitchn.com to make the milk. I followed it step by step and it was just as easy as the author promised:

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Use a blender to grind up the nuts, then strain the mixture through a sieve lined with a nut milk bag

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Carefully gather the mixture in your nut milk bag and squeeze out as much of the milk as you can

Voila - homemade almond milk!

Voila – homemade almond milk! Jars lovingly labelled by my special K

I now have about 1.5l of almond milk in the fridge, and I’m going to attempt the yoghurt tomorrow using my starter once again, as well as honey, vanilla extract and gelatine to thicken it. The milk itself is super creamy and would probably be amazing with legal granola/muesli, or even in tea or coffee.

I’m also on day 2 of testing onions, so I think I’ll go on to the yoghurt after that. If it’s unsuccessful again, I’ll try using coconut milk next time. Not going to give up on this until I find a option that works!