The American Hazelnut is a small tree or shrub that is easy to grow, native to Indiana as well as most of the Eastern United States, and a producer of delicious edible nuts. If you plant a hedge of American Hazelnuts today, you could begin harvesting your own homegrown nuts in just a few short years. If you don’t have access to locally grown American Hazelnuts yet, you can still make this recipe using any raw hazelnuts.
Nut milks are delicious, nutritious, dairy-free beverages that have myriad uses. They can stand in for dairy milk in baking recipes, in smoothies and coffee drinks, on cereal, and as a standalone beverage. Pre-made nut milks are available in almost any grocery store, but they’re very easy to make at home. And as with almost everything (IMHO), the homemade version tastes so much better!
If you’re purchasing organic raw hazelnuts for this recipe, the cost may be about the same as the prepared nut milks available at the grocery store. However, since the hazelnut is so easy to grow at home, you have the potential to make this recipe for free from your own back yard nuts. By making your own nut milk at home, you reduce the amount of plastic packaging used, you reduce transportation emissions (by shipping only the nuts and not the water), you develop your own kitchen skills, and you produce a beverage that is far superior in quality to anything I’ve found at the grocery store.
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- 1 Cup Measure
- A blender (any blender)
- A nut milk bag (if you don’t have a nut milk bag, you might be able to make do with a large piece of muslin fabric and a colander. However, a nut milk bag makes this much easier.)
- A small cooking pot or a tea kettle in which to heat water (optional)
- A large mixing bowl
- 1 cup raw hazelnuts (preferably organic)
- 8 cups filtered water, divided
My recommended method involves a bit of planning ahead, but I’ll share a shortcut version as well.
Step 1: Soak hazelnuts in 4 cups of filtered water overnight. This step is optional, and you can still make hazelnut milk with no planning ahead. However, soaking the nuts overnight makes the nuts easier to blend, sweetens the flavor, and increases the nutritional benefits of the nuts. If you plan to soak your nuts for more than a few hours, the best practice is to do so in the refrigerator for maximum food safety. (Personally, I leave mine at room temperature overnight up to 12 hours and have never noticed a problem in doing so.)
Step 2: Drain the soaking water off the hazelnuts. Place the soaked hazelnuts (or the dry hazelnuts if you chose to skip the soaking step) into a glass or metal mixing bowl.
Step 3: Heat four cups of filtered water to very hot or boiling (optional), then combine water and hazelnuts. Allow hazelnuts to sit in the hot water until the mixture has cooled enough to handle. This step can be skipped if you’re in a hurry, but the hot water seems to unlock more of the delicious hazelnut flavor and results in a richer, creamier beverage. Don’t drain the hazelnuts this time, this is the water you will use in the recipe.
Step 4: Blend together hazelnuts and water until well blended. The time this takes will depend on how fancy your blender is. If you have a high-speed blender, this will take one minute or less. If you have a less fancy blender, you might need a couple minutes. You want to blend it about as much as you would blend a smoothie.
Step 5: Line your mixing bowl with your nut milk bag. Pour your nut smoothie through the nut milk bag so that the liquid flows into the mixing bowl and the fiber stays trapped in the nut milk bag. Gently close the top of the nut milk bag and lift it carefully above the mixing bowl. Use your hands to squeeze the rest of the liquid out of the nut milk bag, careful to collect all the milky goodness in the mixing bowl.
You have now made hazelnut milk! Pour yourself a glass and enjoy. I poured mine into a wine glass, because why not? This is a fine quality, fancy beverage!
The fiber you’ve collected in your nut milk bag can either be composted or used in other recipes to make crackers and baked goods. Note that it’s not exactly the same thing as nut flour, because most of the fat and flavor has been transferred into the nut milk. The milk can be served immediately, used in pretty much any recipe that calls for milk, or stored in the refrigerator for about five days.
I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe for homemade hazelnut milk!
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