Is it cheaper to make plant milk at home?

A naturopath wondered if it would be cheaper to prepare plant milk at home and do everything yourself, considering that it is still more expensive to purchase than cow’s milk. We share their experiences with you.

I often say that I drank plant milks before they were as popular as they are today. I’ve been allergic to milk my whole life, but it used to be pretty difficult to find dairy-free alternatives. The only option for breakfast cereal was a special brand of soy milk, a thick, slightly sweet gray liquid. It didn’t bother me because I never knew anything else.

But how times have changed! The selection of plant milk is now shockingly large. Its popularity has sparked much controversy, including a Europe-wide ban on the naming of milk-like products.

This popularity is partly due to consumers’ growing preference for more environmentally friendly food and beverage products. “They are attractive to people who are concerned about climate change and want to reduce the carbon footprint of their diet.“says Aviva Musicus, associate professor of nutrition at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

According to a 2018 study, producing a glass of cow’s milk produces almost three times more greenhouse gas emissions than any plant-based milk and requires nine times more land. Despite their explosive popularity, they are still much more expensive than cow’s milk.

Coffee shops still typically charge more for dairy-free cappuccinos, and in American supermarkets, plant-based milk costs an average of $7.27 per gallon, compared to $4.21 per gallon for dairy products. (This is partly because dairy farms have extremely efficient supply chains simply because they have been in business for so long.)

And just because it doesn’t come from a cow doesn’t mean plant-based milk has any less impact on the environment.
Not all plant-based diets offer the same health and environmental benefitssays Musicus, who has researched the effects of plant-based diets. Almond milk, America’s most popular non-dairy product, has a particularly bad reputation. California produces 80% of the world’s almonds and each almond grown there uses 4.6 liters (one gallon) of water. Traditional almond cultivation is also harmful to bees. There are also problems with rice and coconut milk. Rice is a water-intensive crop, so ethical issues can arise in the coconut supply chain.

Now it’s time for oats, hemp and soy, which are more environmentally friendly options.
However, our food choices are partly influenced by cost, and if plant-based milk is more expensive due to processing and packaging, could we solve the problem by making our own milk? I set myself a sustainability challenge and was surprised to find that although making plant-based milk at home is more expensive than buying it in the store, I really enjoyed it and it was super easy. I want to control where my food comes from and what goes into it, and this seems like another step in that direction.

Plant milk from hemp at home

I decided to experiment with the symbol of the hippie community: marijuana. It takes a little more effort to get it (I had to go to a big box store instead of a local store). So when it comes to convenience, hemp is not your friend.

I’ve always found hemp milk to be watery and have a strange aftertaste, so I was curious if I could get a better taste by making it at home. The answer was really no. Next time I’ll try adding some vanilla extract and some dates to balance out the earthy and nutty flavor.

But preparing this plant-based milk is very easy at home: unlike most nuts, you don’t have to drain it. I put the seeds, water and salt in the blender and blended for a minute.

Price? 32 ounces (950 ml) of hemp milk costs around $6 (£4.73). To make this amount of hemp milk, you will need 4 ounces (113 g) of shelled hemp seeds, which cost $4.50 (3.54 pounds). In this case, it is usually cheaper to prepare the seeds yourself, especially if you buy the seeds in bulk.

With almonds, the best taste

Plant milk at home

I don’t go out and buy almonds (a 280g bag costs about $12) because I feel that using my supplies respects the spirit of sustainability. They are roasted, which increases the flavor He does not know what he wants. I had to soak the almonds in water for at least six hours so they would stay in the fridge overnight. The next day I mixed the soaked seeds with water for a few minutes. Then I had to push very, very hard. The recipe called for a bag of nuts, which I didn’t have, so I opted for a kitchen towel. I squeezed the mixture with paper towels and it was a mess. Next time I will invest a few dollars to buy it.

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Almost 700 ml of milk is obtained from almonds. Cheap almond milk costs about $4 (3.15 pounds) for 32 ounces (950 ml) and more expensive almond milk costs $7 (5.51 pounds) for 28 ounces (829 ml). Making almond milk yourself is certainly not cheaper.

It tasted much better than the milk I bought at the store, it was richer and didn’t have the weird aftertaste that most almond milks have.

There’s definitely no way: oat milk

What I was most excited about was making this non-dairy milk at home since my family goes through many gallons of oat milk. And I don’t like that some oat milk brands use xanthan gum or oil in their recipes (the idea of ​​pouring oil over cereal confuses me) to give the milk a creamy texture.

I did a lot of research on this topic because I had heard horror stories about sticky slime. Oats are very delicate. Use rolled oats, not instant or steel-cut oats.

The key to the perfect consistency is ice water: the heat makes the oat flakes hard and sticky. Soaking or draining as with almonds is not necessary, otherwise the oats will become slippery and grainy. And don’t overdo it! Just 30 seconds is enough. I didn’t need a seed bag, I used a strainer and it worked.

The organic oats I bought cost $11 (£8.70) for 16oz (450g). This recipe calls for 4 ounces (113 g) of oats, which yields almost 24 ounces (710 ml) of milk (some is lost in filtration). The oat milk I purchased costs $6 (4.73 pounds) for 64 ounces (1.8 L), so it would cost me $8.25 (6.5 pounds) to produce the same amount of milk.

Making my own plant-based oat milk at home isn’t cheaper, but I like using organic oats and having the ability to control the ingredients in the milk. I liked the result so much that I even made a second batch, this time with dates, and then another batch with a little salt. My favorite is the sweet and spicy final combination of dates and salt.

I have an ambitious goal: to start making chocolate or vanilla oat milk.
I admit it was a fun experiment and I really enjoyed changing up the flavor by adding a little salt or a few dates here and there. However, I love cooking and since it was an experiment, it didn’t seem like a difficult task.

It’s good to know that I save money by buying in bulk, and I’m definitely open to experimenting with other types of milk. Maybe next time I’ll try peas, although I’ve heard that pea milk tastes quite herbal.

But there’s a reality: I can’t imagine running around in the morning carefully measuring and mixing because I forgot to make the non-dairy milk at home the night before.

Carolyn Dimitri, a nutrition economist at New York University, agrees. “I think (plant milk) is easy to make at home” said. “Pros and cons: Making milk at home is time-consuming, so in addition to the monetary cost of the ingredients, the time required must also be taken into account. People generally value convenience, so I can’t imagine that “the average person would want to produce plant-based milk on a regular basis.”“.

Dmitry adds that the most compelling reason to make dairy-free milk at home is the one that appeals to me the most: Homemade milk contains no additives like gums or thickeners. As always, it depends on whether it is more cost-effective to make the milk yourself or simply add a carton of oat milk to your shopping cart. But it’s the perfect choice for a quiet Sunday breakfast.

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