So in connection with Episode 11 of Life Butter Radio (also here in iTunes), we wanted to show you one way that we that we try to minimise waste in the Life Butter Kitchen. We've had a few questions about some of the treats that we've served up on our Instagram...so here's a little look at how we turn kitchen scraps into bases for everything from standard recipes revamped (healthy fish & chips, anyone?) or kitschy, fun sweets!
Making nut milk is a regular part of our culinary rhythms; it is something we undertake on a weekly basis, and take no inconsiderable joy in. Mostly because we still don't drink our coffee black, and no-one in our home can tolerate dairy). But there's also something therapeutic about "milking" the bag...it's a strange pleasure. And honestly the difference between what you make at home and what you buy in the store is SO dramatic (though the Rude Health varieties are pretty great). People who say they don't like nut milk should try a home-brew; it's really rich, froths well and is so much fun to make! Of course if you don't like the taste of nuts or are allergic, you can use seeds (we are a fan of pumpkin, but hemp works well too). Pumpkinseed milk has a slight greenish tinge, which the tiniest LB team member finds hilarious...see, fun already!
There are about a million different recipes for nut milk already out there, & they are all pretty much the same: soak some nuts or seeds in water (preferably filtered) for at least 4 hours (overnight is apparently best), rinse them in the morning, and then blend them with filtered water & maybe some dates if you want it sweet, or cinnamon/vanilla paste/cardamom if you want to flavour your milk.
Most recipes say to add salt; we've never done this. Proportions....we don't really measure, to be honest. We are not reeeeeaaally rule followers (you may have picked up on this if you follow us on Instagram), but if you are, then here are some measurements from our go-to for wellness kitchen creations, the Moon Juice cook book.
But even just eyeballing it, we've never turned out a batch we didn't like. So if you're like us, just get a big-ish bowl (we use a soup bowl), empty some nuts/seeds into it, just cover with water & soak as directed above. Then empty the drained, soaked seeds into a powerful blender (the Vitamix (US here) is a fave for a reason - pricey, but we've had ours for 10 years now! You can also find reconditioned ones that cost a bit less). Cover with roughly three times the amount of filtered water, blitz for 30ish to 45 seconds, and, as the blender is working it's magic, place a nut milk bag (US here) over a clean vessel of choice. You can use a cheesecloth too. Then the fun part - pour the blended water & nuts into the clean vessel and "milk" the bag or cheesecloth until the pulp inside is just damp and all your thick lovely milk is contained below.
So far, so groovy. But once you've "milked" your blitzed-up nut-water, you are left with a not inconsiderable amount of leftover nut pulp. What does one do with this?
Well, until about a year ago, we just chucked it in the food waste. I had read about nut cakes and raw treats, but they always looked like something that grew out of the side of a tree. Not pretty and definitely not delicious.
BUT there's the fact that it takes a lot of water to grow almonds, that they (and many other nuts) are imported, and that I'll re-toast fresh bread or repurpose cooked pasta several times to avoid waste. So it just seemed wrong. And then we got into Moon Juice, and the controversial but oh-so-fun Amanda Chantal Bacon showed us that nut pulp could be made into fun, instagrammable things...like doughnuts. The Moon Juice cook book promises that it's actually easy & quick (ESSENTIAL) to make use of these milkmaid by-products, so we gave it a go. Here's how.
On a day when we have NO time (many a day), we inverse the nut milk bag over a bowl, dumping out the damp pulp, cover and pop in the fridge to be dealt with later in the day.
When we have 60 seconds, we plop the nut pulp on a sheet of parchment paper that we place in our dehydrator (you can also use your oven - just put it on its lowest setting - but you should leave it open, which is hard if you have kids). We set the dehydrator at 70 degrees C and go about our biz.
It normally only takes a few hours to get bone-dry (which is what you want). Not going to be home? You could probably leave it on all day; you're not trying to keep a chewy consistency, so it's fine if it gets brittle. Once bone-dry, the nut pulp will look a bit like coral - it can then be blitzed into nut flour. You can do this immediately, or toss it into the fridge and do it later - maybe when you have a accumulated a bit of a stash. For the grinding, you can use a flour mill (we use the dry grains attachment to the Vitamix (US here), which actually came with it when we purchased it back in 2008). Just drop in the nut-coral and pulse until you get a relatively-fine grain flour. You may have to shake the jug around a few times to get it evenly milled, and you could probably also do this in a food processor - perhaps more easily by adding the nut pulp gradually. This is just how we do it. It sounds a bit gross (dried nut pulp?) and labor-intensive, but we promise it's quick and not at all difficult, otherwise it would not happen in our home.
So there you have it! Nut flour that you can use in any recipe that calls for any type of ground nuts or seeds. We see ground almonds all the time - in recipes for baked "fish and chips" (the nuts give them crunch), baked "fried chicken" (ditto) and of course in any number of flourless desserts, including the crumble recipe in GP's It's All Good book (one of our standbys - US here). And perfect for Spring!
In part two, we'll take you through the raw treats we made...for anyone wanting to try something a bit different!