Before they were sold at grocery stores, plant-based milks had been around for centuries and were staples in various cuisines. Take soy milk, for example: In China, where this beverage originated, it’s not uncommon to make your own to use in cooking or to drink for breakfast. Coconut milk also has a long history, and is a key ingredient in Filipino dishes, Thai curries, Vietnamese desserts and Caribbean stews.
There are also other plant-based milks that have been around for only a few decades, like oat milk. It was first commercially developed in the early ’90s by Swedish scientist Rickard Öste, who was looking for a dairy-free alternative for people with lactose intolerance and allergies.
Besides producing fewer greenhouse gases than dairy, plant-based milks also offer health benefits. Nuts, grains and seeds (such as almonds, cashews, oats and hemp) are sources of fibre; soy is high in protein; and coconut is packed with antioxidants and medium-chain fatty acids, which can support digestion.
Tri Ngo and Hang Vu from Rustle & Still, a Toronto café, say they opt for coconut milk in their desserts and coffee-based drinks because they love its depth of flavour and texture. It also adds a creaminess that you don’t get from whole milk. In other words, their preference isn’t intentionally vegan; that just happens to be a benefit.
Making your own plant-based milks allows you to adjust the flavor and texture to your liking— and most are quite easy to DIY. With a few staple ingredients and tools, you can make dairy-free milk to use in all sorts of cooking and baking. We asked three Canadian food-business owners who regularly make their own for their recipes and tips.
Here’s What You’ll Need
- Fine-mesh strainer
- Large bowl
Give this homemade almond milk from the folks at Greenhouse Juice Co. a spin. Get this almond milk recipe.
Spice up your oat milk with a pinch of sea salt, a dash of vanilla, maple syrup, or even a little cinnamon. Get this easy homemade oat milk recipe.
Raw unsalted cashews are key to good homemade cashew milk, says Ashley Wittig, founder of Honey’s, a plant-based ice cream shop in Toronto. Get this easy cashew milk recipe.
Ready to make your own plant-based milk at home? Here are blenders that can power through nuts and grains at every price point.
- KitchenAid K400 Blender, $199, kitchenaid.ca. This powerful KitchenAid offering uses texture pre-sets to blitz tough ingredients like nuts and ice.
- Oster Versa, $273, oster.ca. Oster’s high-performance blender offers an affordable alternative to its pricier counterparts.
- Vitamix A2500 Ascent, $769, thebay.com. With the sturdiest blades and fastest motor, Vitamix’s pricey-but- worth-it reputation is well-earned.
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