Vanilla Cashew Milk

by Gena on January 29, 2012

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One of my most popular posts to date is my DIY tutorial for making raw almond milk. In spite of the dinky photos and bad lighting, this post embodies what I always wanted Choosing Raw to be: an easy and practical resource for eating (and living) vegan and raw. I will never forget how astounded I was the first time I figured out that I could actually make the same almond milk that I was spending three or five dollars on in health food stores. And not only make, but make easily and economically! It was the first of many lessons that raw foodism taught me about what it means to live off of nature’s raw materials, as it were: to make astonishingly tasty food from only the simplest ingredients.

As it turns out, almond milk is within everybody’s reach. And so too is the creamy vanilla cashew milk I’m about to share.

My second revelation about making homemade almond milk was that I didn’t actually have to use almonds. Hemp seed, pumpkin seed, cashews, pecans, and sesame seeds all make wonderful bases for nut/seed milk. If you’re not convinced, check out my tahini milk or hemp milk. Or simply drink a glass of this sweet, creamy, dreamy cashew milk, which is my nut milk favorite du jour. The ingredient list is short, the procedure is simple, and you absolutely don’t need a high speed blender for this to work: soaked cashews are a lot more blendable (?) than are soaked almonds. No matter how old your blender is, it’s time to dust it off!

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Creamy Vanilla Cashew Milk (raw, vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Makes about 3 cups

1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
4 cups filtered water
4 pitted dates
1 vanilla bean, scraped into the blender, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

1) Blend all ingredients together till very, very smooth. This will be a few minutes in a normal blender, or 1-2 in a high speed variety.

2) Optional step! Affix some cheesecloth over the mouth of a large container using a rubber band. I actually use my VitaMix most of the time. You can see how it ought to be set up below.

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3) Pour the cashew milk over the cloth in batches, till you’re able to pour it all out. Allow the milk to strain for a couple of hours; you can leave it in the fridge if you like, but I’ve never had a problem with leaving it out as it strains. If you’d prefer to have a creamier and thicker cashew milk, skip this step!

4) Save the cashew milk pulp for use in raw treats (see: tomorrow’s recipe). Pour cashew milk into an airtight container (I like to use glass jars):

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Keep in the fridge for about 2-3 days (if it’s at all sour, it’s gone off). Serve over cereal, graw-nola, in smoothies, or simply as a rich afternoon snack.

See how smooth and creamy it is? Now this is the kind of thing that actually does a body good.

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Here on CR, you’re used to seeing 1001 recipes that call for juice pulp. What can I say: I juice a lot, and I don’t like to throw the pulp out. But many of you have also requested recipes for almond milk pulp, and as of now, I have yet to oblige you. Stay tuned, then, for a recipe tomorrow that features one of the many ways I put my almond (or cashew) mush to good use.

In other news, I found out on Friday that I made the Greatist list of 60 Must-Read Health and Fitness Blogs, along with such talented friends as Ashley, Sarah, and Kath. What an honor! Look for CR in the “special interest food” category.

Finally, many of you have emailed me to ask about my blog design, and how-to questions about getting set up with blogs of your own. I’m happy to share the news that my blog designer, Cory, has now gone full time with his Zesty Blog Consulting services. Cory is the best: over the years, he has not only helped to make CR what it is aesthetically, but he’s also been a source of insight about marketing and growth, and he’s done a wonderful job of helping me to keep my blog current. I really recommend him if you’re looking to have someone help you with tech and design. Congrats on the new chapter, Cory!

With that, another weekend slips by. It’s back to molecular orbitals for me—later!

xo

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Cat @ Cat's Kitchen January 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I think it’s time I acquire a nut milk bag. That sounds so good!

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bitt January 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Interesting. I think almond milk works ok in the regular blender, you’ll just get a rougher pulp.
I have never tried just letting it sit to filter, I just usually squeeze out of impatience. I have to say, I thought that the whole point of cashew milk was that you didn’t have to strain it at all, but maybe your way makes it thinner?

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Anonymous January 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Hi Gena! I just discovered your blog and am super excited to see you posting about the best vegan treat there is! I’ve been soaking and blending cashews forever and am so glad to see you use dates as well – I soak the dates with the cashews to make them super soft for the blending process – I also don’t strain the milk because I just love the creaminess. Looking forward to seeing what you do with the pulp too :) Love the site!

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Shira January 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Hi Gena! I just discovered your blog and am super excited to see you posting about the best vegan treat there is! I’ve been soaking and blending cashews forever and am so glad to see you use dates as well – I soak the dates with the cashews to make them super soft for the blending process – I also don’t strain the milk because I just love the creaminess. Looking forward to seeing what you do with the pulp too :) Love the site!

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Shira January 29, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Oops – sorry about the double post!

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Jessica January 29, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I bet this would make great ice cream too!

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga January 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I agree with you about Corey being a great resource. He helped me with some things with VERY short notice, i.e. in crisis mode, and he’s lightning fast with his turn-around times and awesome on email communication.

Congrats on making the Top 60 blog list.

And this milk looks wonderful; thick, creamy, sweet, rich. Perfect.

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Nada (One Arab Vegan) January 29, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Love cashew milk though I think I’ve only ever made it when I’m out of almonds which is a bit of a shame. Off to soak some cashews for tomorrow’s breakfast!

Ps. I made some of your graw-nola this weekend and it’s just as heavenly as I remember it. Makes investing in a dehydrator worth it alone, and that’s no exaggeration :)

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Tara @ such.different.skies January 29, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Ahh.. I remember the day when I accidentally clicked over to your site. Since then I make nut milk regularly and am alllllmooooooost vegan. :)
Hey, I’m just wondering, have you ever fermented your milks with probiotics?? I’m curious about that and would like to try?

Tara

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Gena January 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Good question! I’d never considered it, but now I will.

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Alexandra January 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm

What about calcium? I would love to start making m own nut milks, but I buy the stuff primarily for the calcium it has, since my diet is lacking in it otherwise.

Any way to fortify homemade almond milk with calcium??

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Anonymous January 29, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Get your calcium elsewhere, perhaps? I know sesame seeds have an abundance of calcium- maybe you could do a almond/cashew + tahini milk?

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Laura January 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm

If you really wanted to, Alexandra, one can always sprinkle the contents of a few calcium supplement capsules- depending on the mg of Ca they contain- into the cashew milk and blend. The calcium may well begin to sediment, thus the container of milk would need a little shake now and again. I think most almond milks have about 150mg/100ml, so you could work out how many capsules this would equate to. It might be worth trying to use a supplement which also contains a little vitamin D2 (ergocholecalciferol) and, for brownie points, some Mg too. I do something like this for on the go when my hospital commitments seem to consume my waking hours. Oh, and calcium citrate or oxalate is better absorbed than Ca carbonate (and has less of a sluggish effect on the ol’ GI system!) Hope this might be of use…

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Gena January 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I think that finding alternative dietary sources of calcium or supplementing is essential, then. But you can also stick with storebought if that’s easier for you.

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hännah January 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm

This looks great, and I can’t wait to hear more about how to use the leftover pulp. I’m rooting for dehydrator crackers! :)

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Hannah January 29, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I could totally eat this up with granola. Plain cashews just turn me off but if I have it with something else I bet it would be delicious! I love that more ice cream places (like the one in my town) have vegan ice creams with almond and cashew bases and not soy. Pretty sweet :)

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J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) January 29, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I have a pound+ of raw cashews in the fridge and this recipe sounds deeelish, must try it. :) Yum!

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cath January 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Hi, Gena!
Loved the recipe! I would never think it’s this easy to make my own milk!
Your blog’s great! Love it (:

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elizabeth January 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm

There are some raw food staples – sprouts, kombucha, fermented veggies – where the price difference between store bought and DIY is so astronomical that it really behooves you to make your own. Nut milk on the other hand is one of those things where, unless you’re using the pulp, it’s much cheaper off the shelf. Around here the Pacific brand runs $2.79 a quart. You can’t match that price with raw, unpasteurized almonds. Not at the prices I’ve been paying for them anyway (maybe you have a source?). Now it happens that I do make my own almond milk (and hemp seed milk, and cashew milk, and Brazil nut milk), because even if there’s not much of a cost savings, nuts are one of those things I really do prefer to consume RAW – and homemade milks are so much creamier, and tastier. But I feel compelled to use the pulp – good thing my son likes raw chocolate truffles! I don’t know what I would do with my almond pulp otherwise.

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Anonymous May 27, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Can you share the truffle recipe?

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Christina @ HealthyCosmos January 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Congratulations, Gena, on making the list! You absolutely deserve it!

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Docia January 29, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Great tip about being able to blend pre-soaked cashews in a regular blender for peeps who don’t own a high-speed one. Mmmm, I love my nut milks!

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Ali January 30, 2012 at 1:10 am

Congrats Girl! You totally deserve it. Can’t wait for more recipes! <3

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Kathryn January 30, 2012 at 9:14 am

Wow. I just had some that I made to go with breakfast this morning and I have to say it is a decadent way to start the day! What a treat. Thank you so much for sharing.

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Gena January 31, 2012 at 7:34 am

Thank YOU for making the recipe!

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am January 30, 2012 at 9:25 am

i most often make a milk of half almonds and half steel-cut oats, not only because i love the flavor, but also because the pulp makes a wonderfully pillowy cornbread (which i love smeared with a little jam for breakfast). normally cornbread is equal parts corn meal and white flour, right? so i just replace the white flour half with the almond/oat pulp (and reduce the milk, obviously, since the pulp still has some moisture), et voila! not traditional, but seriously good. sometimes i’m really just making pulp for the cornbread, then i figure out something else to do with the rest of the milk.

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am January 30, 2012 at 9:29 am

oh, and i make my milk plain, though (but a little on the rich side: 1/2c almonds, 1/2 cup oats, only 3 cups water). no dates, no vanilla. just a tiny pinch of salt. i love that almond/oat milk so much, i prefer it straight up, baby. the freshness blows my mind.

i come back to mention this only because i don’t like sweet cornbread.

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Anonymous May 27, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Care to share the full cornbread recipe? Is it vegan?

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Stefana January 30, 2012 at 10:35 am

Hi, I’m new here, found the blog as I was searching for almond milk recipes, but now I’m all hooked up with the blog. Greatest site ever!

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Karen January 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Huge congrats on the honor, Gena!

As for the nut milk, it looks delicious and I appreciate your commitment to raw cooking, but this is an example of a recipe that is just too labor intensive/time consuming for me personally esp. when there are so many great tasting, “clean” and much less expensive nut milks on the market. (Pacific Almond Milk is only $2.50 per carton and periodically it’s on sale for 2 bucks!)

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Gena January 31, 2012 at 7:26 am

Yes, I do understand. I just love the flavor of the homemade stuff, and the do-it-yourself satisfaction!

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Jenelle January 30, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Made this last night & it was delish! I make almond milk all the time but hadn’t tried cashews before. I did not strain & it was nice & creamy.

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daphna January 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Yum, this looks great! It seems like one of the downsides though is not getting the benefit of the calcium-fortification that comes in store-bought nut milk. I’d love to see you do a spotlight on Ca in the vegan diet! Take care!

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Gena January 31, 2012 at 7:25 am

Totally agree, Daphna. I think it depends on how you treat the rest of your vegan diet, so that’s indeed a good idea for a future post!

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the delicate place January 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm

starred! i love having a nut mylk bag so handy! can’t wait to hear about new ways to use the nut pulp. i love the texture of cashews it’s almost sort of doughy so i hope it’s raw cookie dough ;) good luck with the molecular orbits lol i know it must be absolutely captivating stuff haha.

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carol January 31, 2012 at 12:03 am

Made my first batch of cashew milk this evening. This was delish! I’ve been making my own almond milk for smoothies, but this is such a treat.

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Hannah January 31, 2012 at 4:15 am

Fantastic, Gena! I’m trying to move into raw with more of my staples rather than just constant desserts, and the reason I’ve never made an almond or nut milk is my inability to get off my bottom and actually track down a cheesecloth. Hurrah for a recipe that allows me to continue in my hatred of mall shopping and have delicious cashew milk at the same time!

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Gena January 31, 2012 at 7:22 am

So glad you like it, Hannah!

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janet @ the taste space February 1, 2012 at 11:04 am

Gena, I have never seriously considered making homemade nut milk but your post pushed me over the edge. Thank you! I actually made a creamy chai tea: I brewed 1 cup of tea with my favourite chai rooibos, added that with the cashews, date and vanilla for a very glorious creamy tea. Yum!
I think I will try it next with almonds so I can use the pulp for your beet balls. :)

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Georgina January 16, 2013 at 10:40 am

Hi Jenna, I had bookmarked this page and it took me a year to finally decide to make my own nut milk. I find that cashews get very soft after soaking overnight. I don’t have a Vitamix or a super duper blender. I have an old Oster blender. After I’ve whirled the cup of cashews with 4 cups of water, I don’t feel I have to pass it through a sieve. It is lovely and creamy! Thanks for this.

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Lorra April 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Hi there! I stumbled across your post looking for a Cashew Milk recipe and this one looks great. I do however notice that your website is called “Choosing Raw” and I wasn’t sure if you were aware that Cashews that you buy in the store are actually cooked, even if they say “raw” on the label. Raw cashews are extremely toxic, so the “raw” cashews you buy in the store are steamed. Also, for a couple of years now it has also been legal to sell almonds labeled “Raw”, when in fact they are pasteurized, which is a pretty extensive heating process.

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Lorra April 18, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Sorry, I also forgot to mention that pasteurized nuts can actually be quite dangerous to make into milks as the pasteurization process destroys the protective enzymes in the nut and they grow bacteria very quickly, especially when combined with water.

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