Friday, November 23, 2012

Homemade hemp seed milk

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I remember when Angela at Oh She Glows wrote, in relation to a home composting system, that "my transition into a tree-huggin, hippy, vegan is now complete" (in May 2011).

I am pretty sure that homemade hemp seed milk puts me in the tree-hugging, hippy, vegan category too. There is just no way to make it sound normal. Ricki seemed to agree when she talked about it recently, with her post titled hippie dippy hemp milk.


While it may sound a long way from 'normal', hemp seed milk does seem to be growing in popularity in North America (and with Australians based within North America). Consistent with this, there are quite a few different recipes around for hemp seed milk. Bryanna Clark Grogan includes step-by-step instructions and some possible variations for the process. Most recipes include agave syrup as a sweetener but the ratio of water to hemp seeds varies enormously, from 2:1 (2 cups water to 1 cup hemp seeds) to 12:1.

I decided to follow the ratio recommended in one of my vegan cookbooks, The 30 Minute Vegan (Reinfeld & Murray). This suggests 4 cups of water to 1 cup of hemp seeds and also advises soaking the seeds for four or so hours before blending. Many online recipes skip over the soaking, but I didn't find it too difficult to put the seeds and water in the fridge ahead of time. I didn't bother with the sweetener, figuring I would try it plain first and adjust after if necessary.

The process is really very easy. Basically, you soak your seeds in water then whiz them up in a blender. The pictures below show the transformation, with a fairly dirty looking water with seeds in it (top) being converted to a fluffy, creamy 'milk' (bottom).


If you stopped here, you would still have seeds floating in your milk, so this is where a nut milk bag or cheesecloth comes in. I have seen the bags in various health food stores and they aren't expensive. Simply pour the milk mixture through the bag, with a container underneath to catch the strained liquid, and then squeeze out the seeds that are left behind. It's a fun process.


I did end up with a sludge after the straining, which may suggest I didn't squeeze the seed remnants enough. I will look into possible uses for the leftover seeds in the future, as it felt like a waste to throw them out. (Does anyone have any suggestions?)


When you have strained your liquid, you end up with a thick, creamy hemp seed milk that is ready for hot or cold drinks, cereal, or drinking straight up. Homemade nut and seed milks reportedly keep for about 3 days in the fridge, and I found my version to last well over that time frame.

Version 1 - super creamy

I wasn't sure what to expect from hemp seed milk, and was concerned it might be a little bitter. As it turns out, I really, really liked it. It is nutty and a little earthy, but not at all bitter - and keep in mind I didn't add sweetener. It works brilliantly in coffee, and in chai lattes.


I did find the 4:1 ratio to yield a very creamy milk, and I ended up trying to water my first version down. After reading Bryanna Clark Grogan's post I realised that her lighter, 12:1 ratio recipe was probably closer to the sort of milk I usually use (unsweetened almond milk) and more aligned with my tastebuds. The only problem with a 12:1 ratio is that you can end up with a lot of milk, far more than I would get through in three days.

Given the above, I made my second batch with 1 cup of water and just 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds. This gives a 12.5:1 ratio and has the benefit of making a small serve, perfect for one day or so.

Version 2 - a little thinner

I found this second version to have a much better consistency, and I think you can tell from the photos that it is thinner. If you like creamy milk then my first batch would probably suit you well, but if you're used to almond milk or skim / semi-skim cow's milk then the second version is more similar to those products.

Basic hemp seed milk

See Bryanna and Ricki's posts for additional tips and ideas
Makes 1 cup; increase ingredient proportions to taste or need
Vegan

Ingredients
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1 cup water

Method
Soak the hemp seeds and water for 4 hours, or longer, in the refrigerator.

Transfer the seed/water mixture to a blender and process until creamy, about 30 seconds.

Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Hemp seed milk on weetbix, and hemp seed milk in coffee - a good Sunday morning

To my delight, I have also hit upon consistent success with using non-dairy milks in coffee, which is something I had a lot of trouble with in the past. I now use at least 1/2 cup of non-dairy milk (vs. about 1 tbsp when I used cow's milk) and warm it in the microwave before topping up with hot water. This prevents the curdling I used to experience, and I really enjoy the resulting flavour. 

I never would have thought I could enjoy milk, non-dairy or not, but this is one area where I am pleased to admit that I was wrong! I don't see myself drinking it plain any time soon, but I am getting through over a litre a week now (mostly almond milk, when I'm not playing with hemp seeds) and it's a shift I'm very happy with.

I am linking this post into the Healthy Vegan Friday event hosted by GabbyShelby and Carrie.

Have you made nut / seed milk at home? Or tried commercial hemp seed milk?

32 comments:

  1. I bake with it. Just use it combined with flour- it will be heavier but still yum. Alternately you can use it to thicken dishes like soups/sauces... also I make them into date, hemp and lemon truffles- just chuck it all in the food processor and roll them into small balls.
    I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Oh, that is a great idea! I love the sound of date, hemp and lemon truffles - definitely something for next time :-) Thanks Claire.

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  2. I've never seen hemp seeds or hemp milk before. Do you buy the seeds at a health food store perhaps? Kale salad looks yum - perhaps giving that kale a soak helps reduce some of the bitterness.

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    1. Hi Liz, I received my hemp seeds as a giveaway from The Tropical Vegan, through Hemp Foods Australia. You can order them through their website (http://www.hempfoods.com.au/) but otherwise I have seen them at health food stores :)

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  3. I have never heard of making milk this way! But it seems like a super easy process. :) I am not sure that I would drink it straight out, but I would definitely use it in coffee or cereal.

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  4. I can't wait to try this out especially the smaller quantity so I can see how I like it. And that is brilliant - heating up the milk before adding it to your coffee! I've had that "problem" for some time now and it kind of bugs me, drinking my coffee all curdley-looking.

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    1. Me too Karen - it bugged me a lot! I'm so glad I've found a better version.

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  5. I've yet to try making non-dairy milk at home but I really need to get on it and complete my journey to become a "liberal hippie vegetarian" :P

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  6. I fell in love with hemp milk in America, but didn't enjoy the taste of Canada's store-bought version. Hopefully I can make my own soon... eventually... though my Vitamix is currently half the world away!

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    1. This is one thing where any blender would work (thankfully for me), but what a pity that the Canadian versions aren't as good. It was your enjoyment of hemp milk coffee with Amber that contributed to my decision to try making it :)

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  7. Yummm homemade hemp milk is so delicious :)

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  8. I'm going to have to order some hemp seeds from the company you mentioned in the comments above - I've only seen them in 1 health food store here in QLD and they were SO expensive!!! I love it that you don't need much to make such a lovely milk though - a lot more cost effective in that sense.... they are on my shopping list :)

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    1. I definitely like the 1 tbsp approach - especially as you can always up the proportions if you do want more. They are expensive little seeds but a little goes quite a long way and I have found them really fun to play with - I hope you enjoy them too!

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  9. I didn't know you could make hemp milk. I feel so ignorant. I really must get on the hemp bandwagon as I see hemp 'stuff' appearing on so many blogs xx

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    1. You could re-phrase 'ignorant' to 'normal', I think ;)

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  10. wow! i've never heard of anyone making this! very impressive!

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  11. Wow Kari very impressive - I had no idea you could do this!

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    1. Thanks Cara - it is actually really easy, which was a pleasant surprise. I'd definitely recommend it for entertainment value alone :)

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  12. "tree-hugging, hippy, vegan category"... yes, yes you are! :-)
    Bite Sized Hippy Thoughts- as your new blog name?
    I'm curious to taste this...

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    1. Bite sized hippy thoughts does have a certain ring to it ;) Thank you, and I hope you enjoy it if you do taste it! It's not quite as rewarding as making your own bread, but ranks highly.

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  13. i remember when using hemp for things outside of necklaces (hehe) starting taking off and it blew my mind that u could have hemp milk! i've never actually tried it but i'm actually not a fan of 'real' cow milk so i'm always game to try alternatives. :)

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    1. I'm the same - it's taken me ages to get through trying the different non-cow milk alternatives but I'm finally getting there!

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  14. I actually buy hemp milk on occasion, but make it?? I am IMPRESSED!!! It looks relatively easy, I wonder the cost saving of making vs buy b/c it is pretty pricey to purchase! Hippy Thoughts!!! I LOVE IT!!!

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    1. It is pricey to buy the seeds too so I'm not 100% sure of cost savings...but you'd think it would be a bit cheaper at least, and given I can't buy the milk in Australia, it is a necessary making for me :)

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  15. This has definitely become our non-dairy milk of choice. How are the hemp laws in Australia? All of the hemp products here in the US are typically imported from Canada since it is illegal to grow any form here.

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    1. They're a bit odd actually. In theory it's legal to sell the seeds and oil (you can't buy any other products here) if they're not sold to be eaten. The products we have on the market are thus produced in Australia, but I am not sure how health food stores are allowed to stock them when they're not meant to be sold for eating!

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  16. I have tried several hemp seeds here in Australia and there is a huge difference! www.madeinhemp.com.au sell Canadian certified organic hemp seeds here in Australia. They may not be cheap but I am not buying cheap Chinese "health foods"
    The milk is delicious but these seeds are very versatile and go with many dishes sweet and savoury.

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