Whether you’re going vegan or simply need to avoid lactose, there’s no shortage of good milk substitutes out there. We’re not going to pretend we’ve found one that quite replicates the exact taste of milk – you really just have to try a few until you find the right one for you – but we are quite excited about one of the latest contenders: pea milk.
What is pea milk?
There’s a reason pea milk has soy, almond, oat, and the rest quaking in their cartons. Well, actually there are three reasons.
Firstly, it tastes good – not at all like peas, as you might expect. That’s because it’s not made with green garden peas or petit pois, but yellow split peas. Unsweetened, it tastes a little earthy, which isn’t for everyone. But that’s easily fixed.
What does pea milk taste like?
The texture is naturally quite creamy, because it’s made differently from almond milk, which tends to be quite watery without additives. The recipe below uses a little sunflower oil as an emulsifier, which keeps it from splitting in milk and coffee (given what we know about mixing oil and water, that may sound counter-intuitive, but it works).
The second reason to choose pea milk is that it’s one of the most sustainable milk substitutes around. That’s because peas require far less water and fertiliser to grow than most other crops used for non-dairy milks – especially nuts.
The benefits and nutrition of pea milk
The third reason is nutrition. Pea milk contains roughly the same amount of protein as cow milk, but with fewer calories. So what’s not to like?
Pea milk might not be as mainstream as other non-dairy milks – for now – but don’t worry if you can’t find it in your local supermarket. It’s quite simple to make pea milk at home, so keep reading to find out how.
Pea milk recipe: how to make pea milk at home
Making pea milk at home is easy. This recipe will show you how to make a basic unsweetened pea milk. Scroll down for tips on sweetening and tweaking the flavour of this pea milk recipe to your liking.
Note that using yellow split peas should result in a white liquid that resembles milk, but don’t worry if the end result looks a little yellow. This is probably a result of too much pea sediment making its way into the milk. It will taste fine, but you can fix this problem the next time by filtering the liquid through a denser cloth or nut milk bag.
Pea milk ingredients
(Yields approximately 900ml)
1 cup dry yellow split peas
875ml mineral or filtered water
2 tbsp sunflower oil (this will emulsify the milk)
pinch of salt
Pea milk recipe: Step-by-step method
Put the yellow split peas in a large bowl and cover with at least 750ml of water. Cover the bowl and leave to soak overnight (at least 8 hours).
Drain the split peas in a sieve and rinse them well. Then put the rinsed split peas in a pot with 750ml of water.
With a lid on the pot, bring the water to boil over a medium-high heat and then reduce it to a simmer. Cook the split peas till soft (give or take 1 hour).
Drain the split peas and add them to a blender with the mineral or filtered water, sunflower oil, and the pinch of salt. Blend until smooth (approximately 1 minute).
Place a muslin cloth (or nut milk bag if you have one) over a large bowl and pour the pea milk into the cloth. Squeeze the pea milk through into the bowl.
Your pea milk is now ready. Store it in an air-tight bottle or container and keep it refrigerated. Properly stored homemade pea milk should last approximately 4 days.
Pea milk flavouring tips
As with soy milk, unsweetened and unflavoured pea milk (as in the recipe above) will have quite an earthy taste. Some people like that, some people don’t. If you fall into the latter category, here are a few suggestions for enhancing the recipe above.
Of course, you can always add a teaspoon or two of sugar, stevia, or your choice of sweetener, but why not try a combination of these:
For their natural fruit sugars, but their flavour complements pea milk quite well. Go for a soft and tender variety, like a Medjool. Not only do they taste better, but they’ll blend more smoothly than the cheap, dry, fibrous types. Add 2 to the recipe above (making sure to remove the stones first, of course).
Again, for the natural fruit sugars, but also to make a flavoured milk that kids will like. Add half a banana to the recipe above. (Bonus tip: the banana will blend more smoothly if chilled first.)
Works well either alone or in concert with one of the fruity suggestions above. A teaspoon of vanilla extract will suffice, but you can also use a teaspoon of vanilla sugar if you’d prefer your pea milk sweeter. The latter works especially well when making banana pea milk.
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