Let’s talk milk. Do you like milk? Milk and I have a tumultuous past. As a kid, I boycotted milk for a solid ten years, during which time my mother fretted about my calcium intake and swore I’d turn into a decrepit, brittle old lady. May the record show that I have not once broken a bone.
These days, I’m still not much of a milk drinker. I like a splash of it in my coffee, but I accidentally stopped drinking coffee two months ago. I can’t say I’m a fan of store-bought milk alternatives, either. Soy milk, rice milk and almond milk all have a funky aftertaste that I can’t abide. Homemade almond milk is pretty good, but straining the pulp from the liquid mixture is more trouble than it’s worth.
Homemade cashew milk, however, is a different story. It’s my one exception. It’s easy to make and it’s absolutely delicious. Cashew milk is the creamiest of homemade nut milks and the most refreshing, in my opinion. Since the nuts blend entirely into the water, no nuts go to waste in the process. That also means that the cashew milk retains all of the fiber and nutrients present in the cashews. Did I mention that you don’t have to strain the mixture? I’m a fan.
Cashew milk is full of redeeming nutrients, like magnesium, phosphorus, iron, potassium and zinc. The fat in cashews is mostly unsaturated and they are a good source of protein (source).
I’ve made cashew milk in my old blender and my new fancy pants blender (courtesy of Blendtec). Both blenders produced creamy milk that didn’t require straining, so don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy pants blender. Soaking the cashews first helps them break down in the blender, too. Generally, soaking nuts before consuming them helps release beneficial enzymes. I’m not sure that’s true for cashew milk, though, because even “raw” cashews have already been through two roasting processes to remove their inner and outer shells. “Raw” cashew milk/cream/cheese may be a misnomer.
A cold glass of cashew milk is super refreshing on a hot day. Add cinnamon and it reminds me of horchata. Mix some into Assam or black tea with spices for a riff on Chai tea. It would be great with muesli or cereal for breakfast. Apparently you can even make ice cream with cashew milk, though I admit I’m skeptical. Have you tried it?
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 4 cups water (divided)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey or agave nectar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- dash sea salt
- pinch cinnamon (optional)
- Soak the cashews in water at least 4 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator. Drain the cashews and rinse until the water runs clear. Add the cashews and two cups water to a blender. Start on a low setting and increase the speed until the cashews are totally pulverized. This could take 2 minutes in a high-powered blender or longer in a regular blender.
- Blend in 2 cups more water*, your sweetener of choice, vanilla extract, sea salt and cinnamon (optional). If your blender can't totally break down the cashews, strain the milk through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth. Store the milk in a covered container in the refrigerator. It should keep for 3 to 4 days.
- Yields about 5 cups cashew milk.
- *The ratio of water to cashews (4 to 1) in this recipe yields milk that is somewhere between 2% and whole milk in terms of creaminess. Use less water for even creamier results.