Here are my alternatives to cow’s milk. *edit: It was my top 5 but I’ve recently discovered macadamia milk.*
It’s become the trendy thing, the thing to do, the hot topic on everyone’s lips, but for some it’s not just trendy, it’s essential. If you don’t want to drink cow’s milk it’s important to find an alternative. Whether you’re looking at trying to avoid cow’s milk due to allergies, intolerances or ethics there are a number of alternatives that can be used in every situation.
There is soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, rice milk and cashew milk to name a few and these are my go-to milks. These are the ones that are becoming increasingly available at outlets that traditionally use cow’s milk. So what are they, what do they taste like and how do I use them? Let’s take a look at my top alternatives to cow’s milk.
All of these nut/plant based milks are essentially made the same way: by soaking and then blending.
Most of the milk I consume is in coffee, smoothies, porridge (oatmeal) and cakes so I will give comparisons with these uses.
Almond milk coffee smoothie
Soy milk was the first commercially available alternative to cow’s milk. It is made from the soybean and it has about the same amount of protein as cow’s milk. Some people are concerned about GMOs with soy milk but most soy produced for human consumption is made from GMO free soybeans. If you’re unsure check on the label. Most GMO soybeans are fed to cows so this is another reason to avoid cow’s milk. Soy milk is a common alternative used in cafes for coffee. If I am out and the only non-dairy milk they have available is soy, then I will have soy. I don’t usually buy soy milk for home, for no other reason than a personal preference with taste, but it can be used like for like as a replacement for cow’s milk in cooking. It can be used in sweet dishes like cakes and savoury dishes, for example to make white sauce. I buy organic soy milk.
Almond milk is a beige colour. It definitely has a nutty taste and it was the first milk I used after soy milk. When using it in coffee it froths up a lot and gives a really nice, nutty flavour. If you’re pouring it into coffee at home without frothing it, it separates and doesn’t look very pleasant. It’s a little bit splotchy and unappealing. It’s best to pour a little into your cup first, and continually stir as you add the hot coffee, this will reduce the separation and makes drinking the coffee more enjoyable. When making your own almond milk, it needs to be strained. Here is my recipe for homemade almond milk. Soak the almonds overnight and blend with water – usually in a 1:4 ratio. The liquid then needs to be strained via a nut bag. Homemade almond milk will last three or four days in the fridge. You can dehydrate the leftover pulp and use it for baking cakes and biscuits. Almond milk has been around since the Middle Ages and was used because it lasted longer than cow’s milk, although in recent times it was only used in a very niche health food market. Almond milk is my favourite milk for smoothies and porridge although in cooking I usually go for oat and rice milk as the flavour is not as strong.
If you don’t want to make your own, there are plenty of options at the supermarket, but be careful of unnecessary added ingredients. I always buy Pure Harvest brand because it’s organic and has minimal ingredients.
There are a lot of commercially available oat milks, and other grain milks as well such as quinoa, spelt and rye. Oat milk can be made by soaking oats in water overnight, draining, rinsing and then blending with water. The ratio is around one part oats to two or three parts water, depending on how thick and creamy you want the milk to be. I like oat milk in smoothies as it adds extra fibre and bulk.
I’ve never made my own rice milk, but I have consumed a lot over the years. Rice milk is much thinner than the other milks and looks and tastes watery in comparison. It’s great when you don’t want a rich, creamy taste. Rice milk does not froth up much at all for coffee, but is great when you want a less creamy tasting milk. I use rice milk when I’m baking as it doesn’t overpower the other flavours. Rice milk is usually my go to milk at home.
Cashew milk is rich and creamy. The benefit of making your own cashew milk is it doesn’t need to be strained like almond milk. This is more of a make-at-home type milk, and I have not seen it as commercially available as some of the other milks mentioned here. Because it is so simple to make I’ve included it in my top 5. I usually use a 1:4 ratio. One part cashew nuts to four parts water, although if you like a really creamy cashew milk you could use a 1:3 ratio. Soak the cashew nuts for 2 hours, blend and drink. I haven’t used cashew milk in coffee, but it’s great for smoothies and porridge. My absolute favourite way to have cashew milk is in ice cream. It is just delicious!
I’ve recently discovered macadamia milk and it is now my favourite type of milk alternative to have in coffee. It’s smooth, not overpowering in flavour, froths well and tastes the best.
The milks that are available commercially are often nutritionally fortified. If you are buying your milk from the store always read the labels. As with any packaged food try to look for milk that has the least amount of additives. As you can see each of these milks come with its own flavours and characteristics. There are lots of varieties to choose from and they can all be used as alternatives to cow’s milk.
What is your favourite milk? Have you tried any of these or do you use something different? I’d love to hear about it, let me know in the comments what your alternatives to cow’s milk are.