First, a disclaimer: I love cow’s milk. (You might have picked up on that from all my recent cheese talk.) Skim milk was my absolute favorite thing to drink as a kid, all the way up to college. I had heard horror stories about the “freshman fifteen”– the weight gain most people experience when they are free to eat whatever they feel like for the first time– and sure enough, I gained mine, at least partly because I thought it was ok to drink an entire gallon of milk every week by myself. (Also because I hadn’t yet figured out that peanut butter contained nearly 100 calories per tablespoon.)
But, I also love milk substitutes. I’m pretty sure I discovered this through my friend Joe, who was following a vegan diet when I met him; otherwise, I don’t know what would have possessed me to buy a carton of soymilk for the first time. But I’ll tell you, it was love at first taste. By the time I reached junior year, I had developed a strong interest in nutrition and dropped the freshman fifteen, and I started nearly every day with a bowl of bran flakes and sliced bananas topped with vanilla soymilk. (That’s still one of my very favorite breakfasts.) These days, I’m back to drinking cow’s milk for breakfast every morning, mainly because it’s cheaper than all the fancy milk substitutes. But I recently spotted a recipe for homemade rice milk on serious eats, and I knew immediately that I had to try it– not only because it looked delicious, but also because I had all the ingredients in my pantry already, and the total hands-on time was about 10 minutes, so why the heck not?
This is the easiest recipe on my entire blog of easy recipes. All you have to do is pour water and rice in a jar. Only one caveat: you have to have a blender, food processor, or other pulverizing device to make this. I happened to use my roommate Sarah’s Magic Bullet.
To make the rice milk, take a little bit of brown rice and toast it to enhance its flavor. Then put it in a jar, cover it with water, and let it soak for about 12 hours.
The lighting in my kitchen was really strange when I set the rice to soak.
And it looked really cool against the flowers Alex brought home for no particular reason.
After the rice is fully soaked, throw it in the blender with the soaking water, salt, and sweetener, and let ‘er rip. Blend it for longer than you think you should; the more you blend, the more rice will be incorporated into the final product, and the thicker and creamier the rice milk will be. I still ended up with a lot of rice… uh… mush? Paste? (Is there any non-gross way to describe the solids that are left over after blending the rice and water into rice milk? I guess not.) I hear there are ways to bake and cook with the leftover solids, and I’m pretty sure you could make a hippy-dippy facial mask from it… but I wasn’t feeling nearly that crafty, so I just tossed mine out.
After you’re done blending, strain the entire mixture through a fine mesh sieve, and you’ll be left with smooth, creamy rice milk. If you like using rice in sweet recipes, then this is the beverage for you. It’s lightly sweet (though you could make it a lot sweeter if you wanted), a little bit creamy, and definitely rice-y. If you’re looking for extra variety, you can add cocoa powder, cinnamon, coffee… you name it.
So will this replace the typical cow’s milk on my morning cereal? Will it stand in for the occasional dose of soymilk? I can never give up on my favorites… but this just might be added to the rotation.
Homemade Rice Milk
from Serious Eats
1/2 cup brown rice
2 cups water
pinch of salt
honey, maple syrup, or other sweetener to taste
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast rice grains, stirring frequently until fragrant and just starting to color, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl or jar and add 2 cups water. Set aside to soak for 10 hours.
When soaking is complete, pour rice and water into blender, add salt, sweetener, and vanilla, and blend at highest setting until rice grains are no longer visible, about 2 minutes.
Using a fine strainer, drip milk into a clean glass storage jar. Chill rice milk thoroughly before serving. Shake well before each use.