There's two things I truly love first thing in the morning: fresh pressed coffee, and breakfast! I love keeping my pantry stocked with superfoods because I almost always wake up starving and I like to make a big breakfast to fuel my day. Some of my favorites that I keep on hand are cashews, dates, coconut flakes, almonds, chia seeds, homemade vanilla, and goji berries. I'll use them in granola, oatmeal, greek yogurt, cocoyo (a delicious vegan yogurt) or a fruit smoothie. But there's an added bonus of having a stocked pantry onboard - I never run out of creamer for my coffee. If I'm out of my favorite hazelnut almond creamer, I'll just whip up some nut milk at home and it is just. so. easy. Seriously, all you need is a nut milk filter and a blender.
The beautiful thing is, you can use almost any nut or seed to make nut milk. Almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, flax seeds, oats, pecans, hemp seeds, you can even use coconut flakes or rice. Some of my favorites are almond, cashew and oat milk - all of these are affordable plant-based alternatives to milk that can be done with very little time commitment. Oat milk in particular is super cheap.
The one I find myself making the most often is cashew milk. It has a lower footprint than almond milk (almonds themselves take a lot of water and carbon to grow, although not as much as cow's milk takes) and it's a little creamier which I like, but more importantly for my hectic life, you don't necessarily have to soak the cashews before blending. It's probably better if you do, because it makes a finer, creamier texture and it also makes it easier to digest. Because of that, I included the soaking step in the recipe below but just know that if you're in a hurry, you can make cashew or oat milk without soaking first. Added bonus: if you soak cashews for a long time and have a really good blender, you might be able to get away with not even straining it, since cashews are so soft!
Different nuts create a different consistency, so I usually choose one appropriate for the recipe I'm making. If I need something close to the consistency of regular milk, I'll do oat milk because it's a little thinner and has a fairly plain taste. If I want something creamier or a thickener, I'll go for almond or cashew. To make it even thicker for a sauce or soup dish, I'll use less water when I blend it up! It's very customizable which is great when you're just trying to create a weeknight meal from what you have on hand. I also like to add some fresh dates and homemade vanilla to sweeten mine for coffee creamer. Another way to add flavor is with spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.
Keep in mind, you don't need a nut milk filter to make nut milk. It's super convenient if you start making it often, but you can also use cheesecloth, a fine mesh strainer, a thin linen tea towel or even freshly laundered panty hose. We always like to say use what you have first!
On to the recipe... Here's my favorite way to make cashew milk. If you want recipes and tips for other kinds of nut milk, check out Minimalist Baker's guide to nut milk. It's one of my favorite blogs for easy and wholesome home recipes! The one thing about nut milk is that it only lasts a few days in the fridge, so you may only want to make a bit at a time.
What you'll need:
- A blender
- Nut milk filter (or cheesecloth and a fine mesh strainer)
- Mason jar funnel (optional but it sure helps with the mess!)
- 2-3C chilled water, more for thinner consistency, less for thick (+ hot water for soaking)
- 1C cashews or another favorite nut or seed
- Homemade vanilla (optional)
- Spices - cinnamon & nutmeg (optional)
Soak cashews for 30 minutes in super hot water. If it's easier, you can also soak them for 6 hours or overnight, but I wouldn't soak them for more than 8 hours because they're very soft to begin with!
Drain and rinse. Add cashews and cold water to blender and blend for about 60 seconds.
Grab a large mason jar and place the nut milk filter over the mouth. Hold it around the edges with one hand, while pouring the mixture through with the other. Gather the top of the nut milk filter fabric together (it will still partially full so be careful) and add a mason jar funnel if you wish. Squeeze the nut milk bag carefully, to squeeze out all the cashew milk.
When you've squeezed out almost all of the nut milk, you can gather up the fabric at the top and take the little metal ring (it's attached by a strip of fabric), and place it over the neck of the filter. Then you can use the metal ring to push down (it will look sort of like a bag of frosting if that makes sense!) and squeeze the last bits out. See image below.
Note: refrigerate, shake before each pour, and use within 3-4 days. You might want to make a half batch if you don't think you'll go through it as fast.
You can either compost the remaining nut pulp, or you can use it in a recipe like muffins or no-bake energy bites! Here's a great blog about using almond pulp from Minimalist Baker.
If you want to watch how to make nut milk, we made a video about homemade cashew milk here.