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Peanut milk & nut milk in general - about ingredients and habits.

06/03/2015 - 2 Comments - Recipes | Almond, Peanut, Brazil nuts, Nuts, Sesame, Milk, Vegetable milk, Dairy free, Sunflower seeds, Vegan

 

It's been a couple months since I have diminished the consumption of dairy and eggs at home. That's for no specific reason, I just don't feel much like eating those. Besides, they are extremely perishable. It's not something I can buy and leave in the fridge for three hundred years to consume once in a while (I mean, I even could do that with eggs, but anyway). So, in part for these reasons, in part for the challenge of preparing good food without these ingredients - which are in practically every recipe - I kind of stopped buying them.
Funny thing is it takes quite a while for one to think about cooking in fact without dairy or eggs. Mostly we use the same old recipes adapted with substitutes. So I kept experimenting, trying ways to prepare vegetable milk, and today I share what became my basic recipe to make it with nuts.

Flávia, VegVida and Panelinha Saudável (all in Portuguese) were good sources for research. I will explain how to make peanut milk, because in it's case there is an extra step that's not needed with other nuts. Apart from that, it's all the same.

The first step is to choose the nuts or seeds to be used. For example: almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashew nuts, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame, hazelnuts...
To prepare a neutral drink that can be added to tea and coffee make chocolate milk, be used in sweet and savory recipes, it's importante to choose unsalted raw (meaning not roasted) nuts. And influences the choice? The taste (it will be subtle, not strong. But you know, if you dislike peanuts, for instance, choose something else), and the nutrients in each one.

[Parenthesis: vegetable milk and cow's milk are not nutritionally alike. They will not contain the same amounts, not even the same vitamins and minerals. For those seeking calcium - it doesn't matter if they are vegan or omnivorous - what's really good is to eat dark green vegetables, which will provide plenty of calcium and in a highly absorbable way. Think kale, spinach, broccoli, beet greens, water-cress, and the like. When in doubt, consult a dietitian. End of parenthesis].

Also consider that some nut milks tend to curdle more than others in the presence of heat. That's the case with sesame seed and pumpkin milk, for what I read out there. Meaning they are not good companies for warm beverages. Soon I will post about ways to avoid curdling vegetable milk when heating it. It's on the way already.

So, let's cut to the chase. The essentials are a blender and a sieve, though I like to use a conic sieve instead of a round regular one, and to line it with cheesecloth to strain all of the solids out of the milk. To make 4 cups (1 liter) of the beverage, I use 1 cup nuts - about 100g.

In case I choose almonds, I remove their skin before soaking them (I'll explain how in a minute), with any other nut or seeds, the recipe starts but putting them in filtered water (room temperature) just enough to cover them, and allowing to soak for 8-24 hours. It doesn't matter if they remain a little longer, but if that's the case it's best to let them soak in the refrigerator. Actually, where the weather is too hot it's good to soak them in the refrigerator anyway. Otherwise room temperature is fine.

To peel almonds, I take a little water to boil in a small pan. Then I add the almonds and allow for them to boil for 1 minute. I turn off the heat, discard the boiling water, and throw the almonds in a bowl of iced water leaving them there for about 10 minutes. After the temperature shock their skin becomes loose and it's easy to remove it with my hands, like I do with chickpeas for falafel or hommus.

In the case of making peanut milk I also remove the skin, except there is no need of temperature shock. While they soak the skins become loose, the I just remove it with my hands.
You can always but peanuts and almonds without skin if you prefer, they are easy to find in health stores and markets. I don't recall other nuts or seeds that need to have the skin removed in order to make milk. Maybe hazelnuts? One of these two methods should work.

Well, it is true I have made experiments trying to shorten the soaking time, but I still haven't found one that worked. So the best I can do is wait. After that, I discard the soaking water.

The additional step I take when making peanut milk is to briefly cook it before processing. To do that, after straining the soaking water, I put them with some fresh filtered water in a small pan and take to medium heat. As soon as the water boils, I allow them to cook for 2 minutes, then removing from heat and discarding the water. They say that if you don't cook the peanuts the milk comes out bitter and weird. With any other nut os seed I skip this step.

Finally, the nuts go to the blender. I set aside 4 cups filtered water (1 liter). If it's slightly warm, it makes things easier. First, I put only the nuts in the blender, and a tiny bit of water. Say, 1/2 cup. I blend until I get a smooth paste. Little by little I pour in the remaining water, and in the end I add just a small pinch of salt. I blend until I get the smoothest mixture possible.
Of course I could just toss the whole thing in the blender at once, but like that I wouldn't get the smoothest mixture, nor would I use all I can from the seeds.

Next, I strain the mixture from the blender through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In the end, I twist the cloth over the sieve to remove all the liquid possible. Then I transfer it to a glass bottle with the help of a funnel. Milk is done.

I could strain without the cloth, using only a sieve. But there are two advantages in my method: one is the beverage comes out free of solid residues (that "dust"), and the other is to take all of the liquid off the solids when I twist the cloth, leaving a drier residue.
Keep in mind that the cloth must but clean and dry, and it will probably stain. So it's good to choose a cloth for this use only.

It's a must to fight laziness and immediately hand wash the cloth used for straining, with neutral soap and rinsing super well to remove all of the fat and residue. When we try and leave it to be washed later, caos arises and the cloth ends up in the garbage can. I have tried to use coffee paper filters instead, it doesn't work.
Another thing: don't toss it in the washing machine along with dish towels, aprons and such. That's a terrible idea, really. Trust me and hand wash.

The solid residue is never wasted: it can make it's way into granola, cookies or cake batters. Or be eaten with fruits. Or still, it can be seasoned with olive oil salt and pepper, as if it was ricotta, and be used to fill sandwiches. Another idea is to spred it in the bottom of a baking tray and take to the oven at 100oC to dry and obtain a meal that can be used at some other time.

The milk and the solids remain good for about 7-10 days if kept refrigerated in tightly lidded containers.
Do you have good suggestions of how to prepare vegetable milk?
Besides this nuts/seeds version, I have one I really like that's made from oats, and I will publish some other time. I still don't have a good recipe for rice milk, can anyone help me with that? What do you think of these kinds of drink?

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02/08/2016 18:02:14

Dr Hailesellassie

Comment
Dear Sir/madam Thanking you in advanced for all your endeavor help assistance and cooperation. All your instructions and explanation etc is superfine it can really help and assist us all for those who are in short of getting cow milk in hand to once help and assistance to have coffee etc. Looking forward of hearing from you and waiting with anticipation. Kind Regards Dr.Hailesellassie

02/08/2016 17:04:18

Dr Hailesellassie

Comment
Dear Sir/madam Thanking you in advanced for all your endeavor help assistance and cooperation. All your instructions and explanation etc is superfine it can really help and assist us all for those who are in short of getting cow milk in hand to once help and assistance to have coffee etc. Looking forward of hearing from you and waiting with anticipation. Kind Regards Dr.Hailesellassie

Response from Flora
Thank you so much for you kind words Dr Hailesellassie! It's a pleasure to have you here!

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