Homemade Rice Milk and Variations (vegan, gluten free, ACD)
Friday, June 11, 2010
Kim in Blog Events, Recipes: Beverages, Recipes: Lacto-Fermented/Cultured Foods, anti-Candida diet (ACD), gluten-free, low carb, low fat, low sodium, low sugar, vegan, vegetarian

This week's Blogger Secret Ingredient event, hosted by Mo's Kitchen, is focused around rice.  I've been sitting on half-completed version of this rice-centric post for a couple of months now, and thought it was the perfect time to pull it out of the wings and finish it up.  

First of all, I just have to get this out there: in my heart of hearts, I have nothing against dairy.  Unfortunately, my digestive system disagrees with my heart, and my digestive system wins the argument.  But I love the stuff. I grew up in Wisconsin eating cheese (and coincidently, dealing with lots of stomach cramps).  If I had my druthers, I'd be out buying raw milk for homemade kefir, baking with buttermilk, eating Greek yogurt, scarfing down cave-aged chevre, and drinking coffee laced with half & half.  Plus, I have a romance with those charming little milk bottles, and have daydreams of owning a herd of dairy goats (if only goats came in lactose-free breeds...). 

In my opinion, all those store-bought milk substitutes will never be as good and wholesome as real, pure milk products from responsibly raised dairy animals.  I know that many people will disagree with me on that, but I hold firm.  Really, look at the ingredients next time you pick up that carton of fake milk - you'll see added oils, thickeners, stabilizers, and sweeteners, even in the organic ones. Many of them are nothing but refined carbohydrates and simple sugars.  I want the purity of real milk, something simple, without carageenan or xanthan gum or safflower oil or guar gum or sweeteners or whatever other stuff they throw in there.

Then one day it dawned on me - why not try making my own rice milk?  I make almost everything else from scratch - broth, bouillon, carob chips, flour, baking powder, just to name a few.   I really hate paying so much money for something that offers little to no nutritional value, is massively processed, uses non-recyclable landfill-clogging packaging, and sometimes doesn't even taste that good.   I figured it couldn't be much more complicated than rice and water, right?  Why not give it a go?

When you have rice and water, why by the processed stuff?

Well, once I started making my own milk (and fulfilled my dream of having a lactose-free dairy farm) I stopped buying pre-made non-dairy milks almost entirely. Homemade milks taste better and are totally customizable to your tastes and dietary needs.  Because they are not heavily processed, they retain all the great nutrition present in the whole food and can be prepared properly for the best nutritional benefit. They are free from preservatives, thickeners, and stabilizers, which can often cause reactions or digestive issues.  Compared to pre-made milks, homemade milks require significantly less production energy, and they create little to no packaging waste, especially if you buy grains, nuts, and seeds in bulk (I wish bulk GF oats existed!).  Making milk from scratch is also much more affordable, requiring much less than $1 of ingredients per batch and only pennies in overall electric cost.  

My making your own milk, you get more nutrition, you are more gentle on your pocketbook and the environment, and you are limiting personal financial support of the multitude of issues involved with large-scale distribution of packaged and processed goods.  You are becoming more self-reliant and self-sustaining one step at a time, and it only takes a few minutes and a little planning.  The way I see it, if there are small things I can do to eat closer to the earth and reduce the amount of processed packaged goods in my kitchen, I like to do them.  Activism takes many forms, and choosing how you feed yourself and spend your money is a very powerful one. 

Keep in mind that this same basic technique works with other grains as well, so try it with millet or blends of grains. One of my favorites is a multi-grain rice-millet-quinoa-amaranth milk; it has a unique, earthy, grassy flavor that I really like.  IF that sounds too complicated, millet-rice is also very tasty. Oat milk can be made in a very similar fashion. Sometimes I add soaked cashews or pumpkinseeds to my grain milks for a richer, creamier consistency; this milk is wonderful for baking.  It is so easy, and really takes very little active time - it takes more active time to run to the store to buy a new carton of milk, actually.

For beneficial bacteria and increased nutrient bioavailability, I often culture my homemade milks with a little miso (I'd love to try making my own miso, but I'm not quite there yet).  :)   If you're not interested in culturing your milk, you certainly don't have to, it will still be delicious and nourishing if left uncultured.  But if you're willing to give it a shot, I think it is worth it!  We could all use a little beneficial bacteria in our guts, let's be honest. 

 Yum, homemade milk and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Heaven!

 

Basic Homemade Rice Milk

yield 6-8 cups

I've used all kinds of brown rice - basmati, jasmine, short grain, long grain, even sweet brown - to make this milk. While they all work, I like the overall effect of short grain best.  But the choice is up to you, feel free to experiment.

1/2 cup short grain brown rice
6-8 cups water (6 for thicker, cream-like milk, 8 for thinner milk)
pinch sea salt
optional: stevia or other natural sweetener to taste, or 1-3 pitted soaked dates 

Rinse rice and soak for for 6-8 hours. Rinse then place in a large pot with 6-8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover and cook until rice is totally soft and starts to dissolve and get very mushy, about 45 minutes to an hour. You can also do this in a crockpot (my preferred method) and cook it on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. 

Once your rice is super soft, transfer rice and water to a blender and blend until totally smooth, working in batches as necessary.   If using, add sweetener to taste and blend until combined. If you are not using a Vitamix or other high-powered blender, you may want to pour through a fine sieve, straining out any small chunks.  Pour into jars, cool, and cover, then store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.  Shake well before consuming.  Milk will thicken slightly as it cools; dilute as necessary when ready to use.

 

Cultured Rice Milk

Culturing the finished milk yields an easily digested, nourishing milk product that is far superior to store-bought milks. During the culturing process, the beneficial lactobactilli in the miso eat away at the carbohydrates, turning them into more easily digested sugars. You will notice that the texture may thin out a bit after culturing; this is totally normal. The culturing process also yields a slightly sweet flavor that is delicious. If you do not want to culture the milk, skip that step and refrigerate milk immediately after blending; it will still be delicious.  

1/2 cup short grain brown rice
6-8 cups water (6 for thicker, cream-like milk, 8 for thinner milk)
pinch sea salt
optional: stevia or other natural sweetener to taste, or 1-3 pitted, soaked dates
1 Tbsp South River Chickpea or Azuki Bean Miso (or soy miso, if you are soy tolerant)

Rinse rice and soak for for 6-8 hours. Rinse then place in a large pot with 6-8 cups of water and sea salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover and cook until rice is totally soft and starts to dissolve and get mushy, about 45 minutes - 1 hour. You can also do this in a crockpot (my preferred method) and cook it on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. 

Once your rice is super soft, transfer rice and water to a blender and blend until totally smooth, working in batches as necessary, and adding water if needed to reach desired consistency.    Transfer to a large bowl or very large jar and let cool to skin temperature.  Remove 1/2 cup of mixture and dissolve miso paste in it, then transfer back to jar and stir to combine. Cover with a cloth and let sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours, stirring occasionally with a non-metal utensil (metal reacts with fermentation).

You will notice a yeasty, slightly sour smell developing.  That's a good thing.  Taste it and when it is how you like it, it is done.  For a smooth milk, pour through a fine sieve, straining out any small chunks.  If using, add vanilla and sweetener to taste and stir until combined (if using dates to sweeten, add back to blender and blend). Store in well-sealed jars in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.  Shake well before consuming.  Milk will thicken slightly as it cools; dilute as necessary when ready to use.

 

Other Easy Variations

Vanilla Milk

Place 1/2 vanilla bean in the pot with rice and cook as directed. Remove from pot before blending, or for more vanilla flavor, blend with grains.  Culture milk as directed, or not, depending on your preference.  If desired, sweeten with stevia or other natural sweetener, or blend with pitted medjool dates.  You could also add 1/4-1/2 tsp gluten-free vanilla extract or vanilla flavoring while blending for a less expensive short cut.

 

Creamy Nut or Seed Rice Milk

If you want a richer, creamier milk with added minerals and protein, add some some soaked nuts or seeds!  The flavor and consistency is wonderful, and this  milk works very well for baking. I like cashews best, but if you have nut allergies use hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.

Soak 1/4-1/3 cup raw cashews, almonds, pumpkinseeds or sunflower seeds for 4 hours, then drain and rinse well.  If using hemp seeds, do not soak.  Add nuts/seeds to blender with cooked grains and water, and blend on high until smooth.  If you are not using a Vitamix or other high-powered blender, you may want to pour through a fine sieve, straining out any small chunks. Pour into jars and let cool, then refrigerate or culture following instructions above.  This milk tends to be quite thick; thin out finished milk as necessary before using and shake well.  

 

Chocolate Milk

Add 4-6 Tbsp cocoa or carob powder, 1/2 vanilla bean or gluten-free vanilla extract or vanilla flavoring, and desired amount of stevia, other natural sweetener, or pitted soaked dates to blender with cooked grain. Blend together until smooth and adjust sweetness to taste. This is especially good made with Nutty or Seedy Rice Milk - it is a lot like full fat chocolate milk!

 

Multi-Grain Milk

Substitute a portion of the rice  with another whole grain like amaranth, sorghum, quinoa, buckwheat, or millet, and prepare as directed.

 

 

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