I've recently discovered delicious, dairy-free oat milk and I'm thrilled with it. It's easy to make oat milk at home, and that's what I've been doing.
When I looked for an oat milk recipe online, most of the recipes I found called for oat groats, which don't seem to be available in my area, and many called for cooking the oats, which I didn't want to do, preferring a raw "milk" and a simpler recipe.
So I tried my own somewhat adapted version, and am very happy with the results.
The best part for me is that I could never have imagined being motivated enough to eliminate cow's milk from my diet, even though I knew it would help me lose weight and be good for me in other ways. But this easy-to-make raw alternative "milk" is so delicious that I do not miss cow's milk at all! I like my oat milk better!
And I have loved milk ever since I can remember. My sister, on the other hand, hated milk. So when we were kids, I drank my milk and hers too, and we were both happy. She was tall and thin, and I was short and usually on the chubby side.
Fast forward to the present. Maybe if I could get healthful raw, hormone- and antibiotic-free milk where I live now, I wouldn't have looked for a substitute, and I wouldn't have found dairy-free "milk" made with oats. But I'm so glad I did!
My oat milk recipe is very simple, which is one thing I love about it. Because, while my husband and I are committed to eating healthfully, I don't have untold hours to spend in the kitchen. We cook our food 'from scratch', but we do it simply.
This recipe doesn't take long to make. An added and very important advantage for me is that rolled oats are something I can get organic from our direct-from-the-farmer-to-the-consumer organic buying cooperative. These things make it ideal for me!
Another great plus is that eliminating pasteurized cow's milk has helped me shed 13 pounds in 5 months. Just eliminating cow's milk!
Here's my recipe.
Yield: About 1 and 1/4 quarts (or liters)
Skill Level: Very easy
Cooking required? No
Optional Addition: Dried, unsweetened grated coconut (This can replace some of the oats or be added to them, depending on your preference. At the moment I usually use 7 tablespoons oats and 7 tablespoons of coconut to one and a half liters of water, but it's entirely up to you!)
What to Do
At least several hours before you're going to make the oat milk:
1. Place the oats, coconut (if you're using it), and salt in a glass jar (or several, if you don't have one that's big enough), pour the water over them, and shake or stir for a moment.
2. Let them soak in the refrigerator for at least several hours or more; overnight is fine. Mine usually soak all day or all night, but sometimes less. The length of time doesn't seem to be a big deal, but they do need to soak for some time. It seems to me that the longer soaking time results in a tastier final product.
If you're using grated coconut, let it soak right along with the rolled oats.
When you're ready to make your oat milk:
3. Pour the contents of the jar(s) into the blender jar and blend for several seconds, or until it's all blended up.
4. Pour the contents of the blender jar into a clean nut milk bag or piece of voile that you've placed over a bowl large enough to hold all the oat milk, and strain it through the bag. This involves squeezing, kneading, squishing, and/or 'milking' the bag. The idea is to get all the liquid through the bag, leaving only what's left of the solid oats inside.
(More on nut milk bags and alternatives to nut bags below).
5. Your oat milk is now ready! Just pour it into clean glass jars, cover, refrigerate, and enjoy! (Actually, I simply pour it right back into the jars I soaked the oats in, since I just emptied them into the blender moments ago.)
You'll see that after it's been in the fridge for a while, your oat milk will separate. There's nothing wrong; all you need to do is shake it up before you use it. Just shows how natural and homemade it is! Enjoy!
More about nut milk bags and alternatives to nut milk bags
Most people use a 'nut milk bag', which is simply a bag made of voile (the material 'glass curtains' are made from) with very strong seams. I've read you can use a strainer, too, but apparently it takes a lot longer to strain through a strainer than through a nut milk bag. Makes sense that it would.
You can make a nut bag yourself, or have one made from voile, or buy one online or maybe at a health food store. What I use is even simpler, and my husband gets the credit for the idea: I found that the strong seams on the nut milk bag weren't drying quickly enough, and were mildewing. So he bought some voile at a fabric store, and now we just lay it over the bowl (it has to be large enough to overlap the sides of the bowl), pour the to-be-strained oat mixture into it, close up the corners with one hand and hold it shut over the bowl, and then squeeze with the other hand!
Of course, whether you use a nut milk bag or a simple piece of voile, you have to clean it well afterwards, but I've found this to be much easier with the piece of voile than with the nut milk bag. It helps that there are no seams to hinder quick, proper drying.
I know this must sound ridiculously simple and even vague ("blend for several seconds"), but that's because it is ridiculously simple! There's a lot of leeway in almost every aspect of this recipe, from the quantity of oats you use to how long you blend it to what you strain it with.
In fact, the first time I made oat milk, I wasn't sure of the quantity of oats to use and used more rolled oats than I do now. I filled the jar about 1/3 full of rolled oats and then filled it up with water. I didn't get oat milk, but I did get a luxuriously creamy 'oat cream'. It was delicious!
All that to say that you can simply experiment with the quantity of oats till you find out the consistency you prefer. Have fun!
A word about experimenting with ingredients:
If you decide to try adding nuts or seeds to your oat milk, please remember that it's important when soaking nuts and seeds to discard the soaking water. Since you don't discard the water you soak the oats in when making oat milk, the best thing would be to separately soak any nuts and seeds you want to include, and put them in the blender with the rest of the ingredients only after you've soaked, drained, and rinsed them well.
Please read this if you're making oat milk for a child!
I don't know how much protein is in oat milk, but I'm pretty sure it isn't anywhere near as much as is in cow's milk. Of course, commercial cow's milk that is pasteurized and comes from cows which are given antibiotics and growth hormones, has many disadvantages. But please remember that if you're going to substitute oat milk for cow's milk for a child, you'll need to make sure he or she gets enough protein in other foods.
Of course, the very best milk for a baby is breast milk. If you cannot breastfeed, please thoroughly research healthy alternatives. We advise avoiding soy formulas, which are not good for your baby.