Saturday, March 08, 2014

Making Milk & Flour

I'm sure by now if readers have ventured into the health food scene, they've heard ad nauseam about THE VITAMIX!

I have to say, I was sick and tired of hearing about how fantastic this thing was.  I mean really?! It's a blender for crying out loud!  A $500 blender! But then I drank the kool-aid too.  We had blown through 3 blenders in one year.  I wanted one.  Really badly.....and then, my hubs bought me one.  I have never looked back.  This thing is just amazing.  I'm no spokes person but seriously everyone who loves to cook or is into their health and wants to experiment should really really consider it. 

So, I finally ventured into making nut milks and nut flours.  I have to say that in general, making ones own milk, isn't financially "better". But, health wise and taste wise, it is.  No preservatives or artificial anything.  For those who or control freaks about what they ingest into their body this is really the only way to go.  For me, I've found that I don't always have the time for it.  But, I've been able to make it a little more financially "better".  By using the leftover pulp from the nut milks and grinding it into nut flour. 

The cheapest one I've found so far is coconut.  Now here at Aldi (a German grocer) I can get unsweetened coconut shavings  for 55 euro cents for a 200 gram bag. This is a little under $1.00. 

To get the milk:

  • Dump 2 bags of coconut shavings into the vitamix pitcher (8 cup pitcher) then fill the rest of the pitcher up with filtered water (up to the 8 cup line). 
  • Blend on high for 3 minutes.  3 minutes is just enough time for me to get a bowl, fine mesh sieve and line it with an old gauze cotton diaper. My first try making nut milk, I realized I needed an additional filter to the metal sieve it was just too chalky without being filtered through both.  There are many options to using a cloth filter.  I didn't want to spend the money on cheese cloth or a milk bag (although these are the recommended methods).  Nor, did I want to take the time to go and get one.  So cloth diaper it was!  The gauze cotton kind not the regular cotton folding diaper.  A very very thin tea towel can work in a pinch as well.
  • Once 3 minutes of blending is up, turn off the blender, and pour contents through the cloth & sieve. This may take a little time. Once most of it has drained on it's own, the rest should be hand squeezed through rthe gauze. Form a sort of bag by gathering up the corners and twisting the top of the towl or diaper or guaze. (Similar to closing up a garbage bag) Then start squeezing.  Get as much moisture out as you possibly can. 
  • This can make about a liter of milk.  Pour milk into a pitcher and refrigerate.  WARNING!  This will not last long.  A couple days.  Then it will taste nasty. 

For the flour part so, now that we have our milk what do I do will all this left over coconut pulp?  Don't throw it away!!!
  • Get out a baking sheet, line with parchment and spread pulp out onto the pan evenly. 
  • Let the pulp lay out on the counter for a day or two until it's completely dry.  Be sure to break up the clumps so it will dry all the way.  If one has a dehydrator, dehydrate the pulp for faster results.  Also, one can use the oven on the lowest setting overnight.  The temperature and the general environment of the kitchen is what determines how long it will take for the pulp to dry out completely.
  • Once the pulp is completely dry, pour the contents into the dry canister of the vitamix and blend.  This creates about a cup to a cup and a half of coconut flour. 

There you have it.  For little under $2 I can produce a liter of coconut milk and 1 cup of coconut flour.  I realize that this seems tedious.  I have to admit, I don't do this all the time.  I'm fortunate enough that if I feel lazy, I have room in my budget to just go and buy a carton of coconut milk/drink at the local grocer.  But for those who don't have that option or, for those absolutely must know what is in their non-dairy milk this is a great and inexpensive option.

The same method can be applied to almond milk.  The measurements are the same.  The only difference is the almonds must be soaked over night, rinsed and then added to the blender.  It tastes absolutely phenomenal but isn't the cheapest option. I only end up with about 3/4 of a liter.