The logic as to how you'd possibly "milk" a nut may appear a little perplexing at first, but the whole process is actually surprisingly easy, and they really do make for an incredibly nourishing and delicious alternative for those looking to avoid dairy or soy-based milks. It's also often way more affordable to make your own too (particularly when you make use of bulk bins and sales), and I can vouch that they taste way better - you can't get fresher then homemade!
So what exactly is a nut milk? Nut milks are non-dairy/non-soy alternative to milk made by blending nuts, water and typically a little sweetener or flavour of some sort. You then strain the mixture through a special nut milk bag or a fine cheese cloth (which basically does the same job as a sieve), and the liquid you're left with at the end is known as a nut milk. This delicious nutty and super versatile liquid works as any milk would - use it in cereals, smoothies, baking, in coffee, or simply down it straight from the bottle.
Many choose to avoid dairy, whether due to an intolerance/allergy or possibly ethical reasons, veganism, or maybe because they simply don't like the taste of regular milk. Personally, a glass of pure milk will send my digestive system haywire, so I've been using nut milks as a direct replacement for milk for years. I usually switch it up based on what nuts cheapest or what's in the house - my absolute favourite to make is hazelnut milk. And that's the beauty of it, feel free to substitute different nuts with one another, the recipe below is totally flexible.
Homemade Almond Milk
1 cup almonds
4 cups of water
2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla essence
1. Soak the almonds overnight or for around 8 hours. Soaking the almonds causes them to absorb water, producing a creamier milk. If you're in a rush you can skip this step.
2. Rinse and drain the almonds, then add them to a blender with all the other ingredients. Process at a high-speed for a few minutes.
3. Strain the mixture using a nut milk bag or fine cheesecloth (nut milk bags are most ideal as you'll get a smoother milk). To do this place the bag over a large bowl and slowly pour the milk into the bag. Gather the top of the bag, twist it, then gently squeeze the bag to help extract the liquid into the bowl - it may take a few minutes to collect most of it. By the end you'll be left with all the almond pulp in the bag - don't throw it away! You can totally add it back into smoothies, biscuits, oats, or even dehydrate it in the oven to make almond meal.
4. Pour milk into a clean bottle and store in the refrigerator for up to two days.