It was only a few months into our relationship when we figured out that my partner is lactose intolerant. Milk, cheese, butter, ice cream… all things that I would have to stop cooking with. Fortunately I had dabbled in vegan cooking before our relationship began, which made the prospect of cooking without dairy a little less daunting.
Although there are many dairy substitutes in stores these days, I have always had an issue with the packaging. I couldn’t stand the ever growing pile of tetra paks that would accumulate as our curb side recycling wouldn’t take them (meaning special trips to the recycle depot). To avoid this problem I started experimenting with different home made dairy milk substitutes. Nut milks although very delicious, can also be very expensive (especially when buying organic nuts). Somewhere along the line I came across the idea of making oat milk. It is not as luscious or creamy as nut milks but it has proven to be a reliable and still a tasty and very affordable alternative. I have used it in many of my favourite recipes for pancakes, waffles, cakes, naan, and I often put it on granola or porridge.
If oats are not your thing then I would definitely recommend home made nut milks. They can be made following the same recipe below (soak raw nuts overnight). After straining you can reserve the nut pulp for other recipes (I freeze it and use it instead of bread crumbs for crunchy topping on baked mac and cheese or in fruit crumble toppings). I have made a few different nut milks including almond and cashew, but my favourite by far is using hazelnut. Sometimes when I’m feeling fancy I will add cocoa powder and maple syrup for a chocolate version to add to coffee!
makes 2-3 cups
- 1 cup organic steel cut oats (or oat groats)
- 3 cups water, plus more for soaking
- *optional: maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa powder
Place oats in a bowl and add enough water so that oats are completely covered by at least an inch of water. Let soak for at least 20 minutes (on counter is fine), or overnight in fridge.
Drain and rinse oats in a fine mesh sieve with fresh water. Place oats in a blender and add 2-3 cups of water (you can experiment with different amounts of water, using less water will result in a creamier and thicker product). Blend on high for about a minute the pour through a fine mesh strainer. Press the pulp with the back of a spatula or a spoon to squeeze out all the liquid. Unlike nut pulp from the nut milk process, I unfortunately have yet to find a use for the oat pulp so for now it goes into our compost bin.
Store in an airtight container in fridge, will keep for 3-5 days. Shake well before using.
*If you are feeling crafty try adding some of these optional ingredients to make flavoured milk.