Another alternative to cow milk is hazelnut milk. You can buy it in most stores, but the problem is that it is very expensive (prices vary from €2.5-€5.00 per litre), and full of added sugars, preservatives, stabilisers and not-so-natural ingredients (how can it last for up to a year after being produced and not go bad?).
It’s super easy to make, all you need is a cup of raw hazelnuts, 2 cups of water, a blender, a nut milk bag, and a sweetener (honey, cinnamon, vanilla extract) if needed. I prefer the whole blanched hazelnuts because they already have the skin removed which means you don’t have to strain your milk as much as with regular hazelnuts. Make sure that your hazelnuts are raw, not roasted. Because there are no additives in this milk, it will separate in the fridge so you will have to shake it before use.
1) Put the raw hazelnuts into a bowl, cover them with water, and soak them overnight. This softens them and they are easier to blend. You wouldn’t want your blender to break down because the nuts were too hard, would you?
2) In the morning, strain the water from the hazelnuts, and put them into your blender. Add about a cup of water. Then blend them for about 1-2 minutes, depending on how strong your blender is. If your blender is a bit weak, you might have to stop the process and use a spatula to move the hazelnuts around.
3) When the hazelnuts are blended and you get a smooth puree, add the remaining water.
4) You can also add honey, or cinnamon, or pure alcohol-free vanilla extract (optional), and continue blending until well mixed.
5) The last part of the process requires you to strain the milk through the nut milk bag. This is very important or you will be drinking hazelnut pulp as well as the milk (but if you don’t mind that, you can skip the straining). Instead of the nut milk bag, you can use a very fine strainer or sieve, or several layers of cheesecloth (muslin) – or you can also use the cheesecloth and the strainer (the best option). Just pour the hazelnut milk slowly through the filter into a large bowl underneath. The filter will retain the hazelnut pulp while the liquid will go through. Use a spoon or spatula to press down on the strainer and move the solids around to help the hazelnut milk through the cheesecloth. When most of the milk has passed through the strainer, gather up the cheesecloth and gently squeeze it to remove excess liquid.
Don’t throw away the hazelnuts left over in the cheesecloth! Here are some ideas what you can do with the pulp:
1 You can make nut flour. Just place the pulp in a 200-degree-Celsius oven until it is dried. Grind the dried pulp in a spice grinder (or in a high-speed blender) until fine.
2 You can use it for raw cookies. Just blend the pulp with some nut butter, dates, shredded coconut and sweet spices. Roll it into balls and roll in shredded coconut or raw cocoa powder.
3 You can use it in your cereal by combining it with your fresh hazelnut milk, some dried fruits, nuts, and sweet spices.
4 You can also use it as a body scrub. Just add some olive oil and rub gently over your body.