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A DIY guide to dairy-free milk

14th March 2018

Oat and sesame, almond and coconut – dairy-free milk is fast becoming a fridge staple. But how tasty are they really? And how easy are they to make yourself at home? Food writer and DIY pantry regular, Malou Herkes, reveals all.

A DIY guide to making dairy-free milk at home

Which one will be your new go-to alt milk? Photo: Natale Towell.

Dairy-free milk: a real alternative to cow’s milk?

Cow’s milk alternatives are evermore popular these days. A rise in lactose intolerance and vegan diets probably has a lot to do with it, they can be cheap to make and they offer something new by way of flavour (coconut-milk pancakes or pistachio-milk smoothies are arguably much tastier than dairy milk!). There’s also something to say for the ease of turning a pantry staple into something resembling cow’s milk, which you can use in much the same way in the kitchen – think pancakes or smoothies, soups or curries, even lattes (although I wouldn’t recommend builder’s tea).

On the other hand, alternatives they are. If you’re looking for something that will taste just like cow’s milk, you might find yourself hard done by. Nutritionists stress, too, that dairy alternatives are often packed with sugar, and can fail to provide the calcium and essential fats that kids need as they grow. Still, as an adult and as part of a balanced diet, non-dairy milks have their place.  

Additive and sweetener-free

Mylkman make rich, creamy almond, cashew, pistachio and oat blends from their kitchen in London, without all the additives and sweeteners you might find in the usual shop-bought versions. Making them yourself at home is also very simple, and you don’t need a cupboard-full of fancy equipment to do it – just a high-speed blender and a piece of muslin or cheesecloth will do. When it comes to nut, sesame and oat, you’ll need to soak them beforehand, but otherwise the formula is always the same – add your basic ingredient to a blender, add water, blitz well, then strain. Easy!

The water ratios here are given as a guide. The more water you add, the more diluted your milk will be, and the less you add, the more concentrated, so play around and see what you prefer. Most milks will keep for a good few days in the fridge, and don’t worry if they separate – just give them a good shake before use.

How to make alternative, dairy-free milk

Oat Milk

A DIY guide to making dairy-free milk at home

Photo: Natale Towell.

Oat milk has a smooth, mild taste, not as sweet as almond or as creamy as coconut milk, making the latter better for making pancakes. Oat milk is probably the nicest to drink straight up, without the bitterness of sesame or the starchy taste of rice, and needs little in the way of sweetner or flavourings, and works well in smoothies, too. Try Mylkman’s chocolatey version, combined with cocoa, agave and coconut.

How to make oat milk

Soak 1 cup of rolled oats in cold water for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Drain and rinse, discarding the soaking water. Blend the oats on high with 3 cups of cold water until smooth, then pour into a muslin or cheesecloth-lined bowl (you can use a nut-bag if you have one), bunch up the cloth and squeeze to strain out the milk. Decant into a clean bottle and store in the fridge for up to about five days.

Sesame Milk

A DIY guide to making dairy-free milk at home

Photo: Natale Towell.

Sesame milk has a sharper, slightly bitter taste in comparison to other dairy-free milks. Imagine the taste of tahini and you’re not far off. Straight up, sesame milk is an acquired taste (although not terrible!), but blitzed with nut butter and dates into a smoothie, it works well. Unhulled sesame seeds have a higher calcium content, but they’re more bitter than hulled seeds – experiment and see which you prefer.

How to make sesame milk. Soak 1 cup of white sesame seeds in cold water for 2 to 4 hours. Drain and discard the soaking water. Blend the seeds on high with 3 cups of cold water until smooth, then pour into a muslin or cheesecloth-lined bowl (you can use a nut-bag if you have one), bunch up the cloth and squeeze to strain out the milk. Decant into a clean bottle and store in the fridge for up to about five days.

Coconut Milk

A DIY guide to making dairy-free milk at home

Photo: Natale Towell.

Naturally sweet, rich and creamy, this milk is a great one to make at home. No soaking necessary, making coconut milk is simply a matter of blitzing dessicated coconut with hot water, and straining it afterwards. Coconut milk adds delicious depth and flavour to smoothies, pancakes, curries and soups. Keep a stock of dessicated coconut in your storecupboard ready to turn into milk in just 5 minutes.

How to make coconut milk

Place 1 cup of desiccated coconut and 3 cups of hot water into a blender. Leave to soak for 5 minutes or so, then blend on high until smooth. Pour into a muslin or cheesecloth-lined bowl (you can use a nut-bag if you have one), bunch up the cloth and squeeze to strain out the milk. Decant into a clean bottle and store in the fridge for up to about three days.

How to make nut milks

A DIY guide to making dairy-free milk at home

Photo: Natale Towell.

Nut milks are the most popular of dairy-free milks out there, and there’s good reason. You can use pretty much any nut, each offering slightly different flavours and creaminess, depending on what you like. Mylkman’s pistachio version is thick and creamy, mixed with a delicious chai blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, black pepper, allspice and cardamom. My experiments set almond milk as a favourite (see my step-by-step guide here), but the same rule applies to any nut. You can also try blending different nuts together – the only difference is in the soaking time.

Rice Milk

A DIY guide to making dairy-free milk at home

Photo: Natale Towell.

Alongside oats, this is the cheapest of milks to make. You have two options: blend either cooked rice or soaked uncooked rice with water. The former is a good way to use up leftover rice, but the results taste like starchy rice water – not great. The latter is a little tastier, especially if you toast the rice grains before soaking them. Some prefer to use brown over white rice, and you can use either – brown rice gives a slightly nuttier, more complex flavour to the end result. Try sweetening with vanilla extract, maple syrup or honey.

How to make rice milk

Toast ½ cup of rice in a dry frying pan for about 4 minutes, or until smelling fragrant, then soak in cold water for 10 hours. Drain and discard the soaking water. Blend the rice on high with 1½ to 2 cups of cold water until smooth, then pour into a muslin or cheesecloth-lined bowl (you can use a nut-bag if you have one), bunch up the cloth and squeeze to strain out the milk. Decant into a clean bottle and store in the fridge for up to about five days.

Check out our guide to homemade almond milk as well how to make apple cider vinegar, an easy mayonnaise, gut-friendly kombucha, a go-to paneer cheese or creamy yoghurt and tahini at home in our DIY Pantry series.

Discover Mylkman’s range of alternative milk at


5 most common mistakes that are ruining your pancakes

6th February 2018

Flipping good fail-safe tips to guarantee perfect pancakes every time.

5 most commonly avoidable mistakes that are ruining your pancakes

Do you like yours lemony or bacony? Photo: Natale Towell.

Pancake Day, oh Pancake Day. No Shrove Tuesday (it falls on the 13th of February this year) would be worth its weight in eggs, milk and flour without stacks of steaming pancakes scattered around the kitchen. Originally a pagan holiday, round, hot pancakes were made on Shrove Tuesday to represent the sun and the reemergence of light and heat after winter. Now a Christian celebration of the last day before the fasting of Lent begins, the word ‘shrove’ comes from ‘shrive’, meaning to free yourself from sin. Historically and today, families would feast on foods in the house that wouldn’t last over Lent and pancakes were an easy way to use up milk, eggs and fats — giving rise to the French name Mardi Gras aka ‘fat Tuesday’.

Whether you like to pile ’em high with berries and syrup or fold them swimming in lashings of lemon and sugar, here are our fail-safe tips for avoiding common mistakes that’ll leave you with (pan)cake on your face (or in bits, on the floor).

1. Don’t scrimp on ingredients

5 most commonly avoidable mistakes that are ruining your pancakes

With so few ingredients, you might as well make them the best. Don’t forget hand-slapped farmhouse butter…

With so few ingredients in them in the first place, don’t be tempted to reach for years-old flour or raising agents. You’ll only enter into a doomed battle against sad saggy pancakes where the goal of light, fluffy discs will remain a Pinterest dream. Use the freshest eggs too because: a) this will really help any rise that’s dependent on separated, whisked egg whites and b) you owe it to your tastebuds to use the freshest, higher welfare eggs you can get.

2. Leave the batter to rest

5 most commonly avoidable mistakes that are ruining your pancakes

After whisking your wet and dry ingredients together until just combined, leave that bowl of batter to rest for 5 to 30 minutes. This allows time for the gluten to relax (how many times gluten, just calm it down) and will help give you soft, tender pancakes. Also, take it easy when mixing your batter. Beating with a heavy hand overworks the gluten, leading to a tough and chewy pancake and it really doesn’t matter if there’s a few lumps. These tips also work a treat if you’re after a show-stopping high rise on Yorkshire puddings too.

3. Get your pan hot enough

5 most commonly avoidable mistakes that are ruining your pancakes

But not too hot. You’ve come too far to fudge it all up now. Getting the temperature of your frying pan to the perfect side of hot, but not too hot, is an art that can make or break your precious pancakes. Thankfully, it’s nothing a few dollops of test batter can’t help you master.

Although it’s tempting to crank up the heat, start at a medium temperature and give your pan time to get nice and hot evenly. The fat in the pan should be hot, but not smoking. If it’s not hot enough, the pancake will take on the grease in the pan, rather than be cooked by it. If it’s too hot, they’ll go straight to burnt on the outside, raw and doughy on the inside. Stick to a medium heat and don’t be afraid to adjust accordingly to get them golden brown on the outside and cooked through on the inside.

4. Wait for bubbles

5 most commonly avoidable mistakes that are ruining your pancakes

Although super-quick to fry, patience with pancakes extends to the cooking process too. After spooning in the batter, when bubbles appear at the edges on the surface and the centre looks firm and set, this is your green light for flip time. That’s it. No more poking around with a spatula trying to peek at the bottom and hindering its ability to rise and cook evenly. No more sloppy/broken pancakes due to misjudged timings (or a pan that’s too cold). Simply dollop the batter, wait for the bubbles and the pancake to let you know when it’s ready to be flipped.

5. Flip it, flip it real good, once

5 most commonly avoidable mistakes that are ruining your pancakes


Congratulations! You’ve made it to the last point where any chances of major disaster are now looking slim. Just don’t get distracted by your phone, little ones or an urgent need to do anything else, because all that’s left to do now is to flip it and flip it once. This might sound a boring (okay, incredibly dull and too sensible a method to make what essentially will be a vehicle for glugs of maple syrup, chopped nuts and a potentially obscene amount of hundreds and thousands), but sticking to the one-flip rule will help prevent all that precious trapped air being knocked out and your pancakes doing a last minute disappointing deflate. Get your fun flips in with the first ones, as these are usually the testers that pave the way for your pancake mastery to come (and you’ll probably get too hungry to keep flipping).

Another top tip: After each pancake is done, place on a plate and top with a sheet greaseproof paper or baking parchment and keep them in the oven at 60°C to 90°C. Repeat with each new pancake and by the time you’ve cooked all of your batter, the first pancakes will still be warm and soft. If they don’t get eaten straight out of the pan that is.

Ready to go and need some inspo? Check out alternative flours to try out this pancake day, whip up fluffy American-style pancakesclassic crepes and savoury spinach pancakes. Have stories of pancake failure or epic success? Share in the comments below!

Before you get cracking, here’s the truth behind egg labels.

DIY Pantry

How to make yoghurt at home in 5 easy steps

10th January 2018

Yoghurt starts with yoghurt. Just a spoon of it. Then all you need are a couple of pints of milk, a thermos flask and eight hours of no work whatsoever, to get you a whole big lot of it. Thick, tangy, creamy yoghurt. No effort, less plastic and a few quid saved. Here’s our guide to help you.

How to make yoghurt at home from scratch in 5 easy steps

You’ll need….

Starter yoghurt

It might seem counterproductive to buy yoghurt to make yoghurt, but this is only necessary the first time. You can use the remaining yoghurt from your next batch to make the following one, and so on and so on. Most importantly, look for yoghurt that has the words ‘live’ or ‘active cultures’ on the packaging. This refers to the living organisms or ‘good’ bacterias which will convert your milk into yoghurt. One other thing to remember is to make sure it’s plain yoghurt – anything that’s flavoured will taste odd in your homemade batch.


You can use either raw or pasteurised milk, and semi-skimmed or whole milk. Whole milk will give you a thicker, creamier yoghurt.


You’ll need a thermos flask to keep your milk nice and cosy while the bacteria does its job turning it into yoghurt. A wide-mouthed flask is best. If you don’t have a thermos, use a heavy pot with a lid, and keeping it somewhere insulated and warm – an oven set at a very low temperature would work. You’ll also need a pan to heat the milk, a spoon or fork and some jars to store your finished batch.

5 easy steps to homemade yoghurt

Step 1

How to make yoghurt at home from scratch in 5 easy steps

Add 2 tablespoons of live yoghurt to a thermos flask.

Step 2

Heat 2 pints (1.1 litres) of full-fat milk over a medium-low heat until almost bubbling (85ºC), stirring often so it doesn’t catch on the bottom. Leave it to cool so you can stick your finger in it but it’s still pretty hot (46ºC). If you want to get specific with this, use a thermometer.

Step 3

How to make homemade yoghurt from scratch in 5 easy steps

Pour a good splash of the milk into the thermos and stir well to combine with the yoghurt, then pour in all of the remaining milk, stirring gently.

Step 4

How to make homemade yoghurt from scratch in 5 easy steps

Put the lid on immediately, then set aside for at least 8 hours. It’s important it is not moved at all during this time, so keep it well out of the way.

Step 5

How to make homemade yoghurt from scratch in 5 easy steps

And there you have it. Tangy, delicious, creamy yoghurt. Store in jars in the fridge. It’ll keep for as long as the regular store-bought stuff.

Enjoy with fresh fruit and yoghurt, or try it in this banana bread or on top of your favourite pancakes.

Caught the DIY pantry bug? Learn how to make a stunning apple cider vinegar, an incredibly easy mayonnaise at home or a go-to paneer cheese at home. Or head to the larder for more store cupboard essentials.

DIY Pantry

How to make paneer cheese from scratch in 6 easy steps

22nd November 2017

Milky and dense, paneer cheese is a fresh, unaged cheese. It’s popular across India and much of Southern Asia, where it’s often made from scratch, coated in spices and added to all sorts of delicious curries. And there’s a reason for that; compare homemade paneer with the shop-bought versions and you’ll find the former to be fresher, milkier and much, much tastier. And it’s surprisingly easy to make yourself. You need whole milk, a lemon and a cheesecloth, and one to two hours to let it set. That’s it.

First things, first. What is paneer cheese?

Paneer is a fresh, mild and dense cheese that doesn’t melt, so it’ll stand up to the intense spices of Indian-style flavours. It provides bulk and protein to a veggie curry, or teamed up with spinach in the creamy curry-house classic, saag paneer, or threaded onto skewers for a ‘meaty’ veggie kebab. You can also make a softer cheese by pressing it for less time – about 30 minutes.

Paneer is made by adding acid – in this case, lemon juice – to hot milk, which will cause the curds (milk solids) and whey (liquid particles) in the milk to separate. The curds are what will ultimately become cheese, once they’ve been drained and pressed.

The important thing to remember is to use whole milk as the high-fat content is what allows the curds and whey to separate. You should also be able to find a cheesecloth in any cookshop or haberdashery, but failing that you could use a quality handkerchief or a coffee filter. So let’s get down to it…

6 easy steps to homemade paneer cheese

Step 1

Heat 1.5 litres of whole milk in a saucepan over a medium heat until it’s steaming and little bubbles appear on the surface, stirring occasionally.

Step 2

Remove from the heat and slowly pour in 4 tablespoons of lemon juice (about 1 lemon), stirring continuously. Let it stand for 10 minutes to make sure the curds and whey have separated. If they don’t separate, try adding another tablespoon of lemon juice.

Step 3

Line a sieve with cheesecloth, then set it over a bowl. Carefully pour the mixture into the sieve so the curds collect in the cheesecloth and the whey drains into the bowl.

Step 4

Gather up the cheesecloth and squeeze out the excess whey – if it’s too hot you may need kitchen gloves for this!

Step 5

Open it up again, sprinkle over ¼ teaspoon of salt and gently stir. Wrap up the bundle into a nice, neat package.

Transfer to a plate or keep it in the sieve if you think it still needs draining, then cover with a plate and top with a heavy weight – a couple of tins work well. Place in the fridge for about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes to set, or about 30 minutes for a softer cheese.

Step 6

And finally, paneer cheese! Use immediately or store in the fridge for up to 2 to 3 days.

And what your leftover whey?

Rather than throw it, bottle it in your fridge for up to a couple of days, and use it instead of water to bulk out soups, broths, stews and curries – it has a tangy flavour so add it gradually and taste as you go. Or use it to make bread or pizza dough.

Got the DIY pantry bug? Here’s how to make a stunning apple cider vinegar and an incredibly easy mayonnaise at home. Or head to the larder for more store cupboard essentials.


Thank you Tinder for bringing Dorset’s answer to Greek strained yoghurt

22nd September 2017

Discover how three generations of dairy farming and a fateful Tinder encounter led to Dorset’s award winning small-batch, strained yoghurt – Britain’s answer to the Greek stuff. Alex Rawe, co-founder of The Dorset Dairy Company reveals all.

The Dorset Dairy Co - strained yoghurt

Co-founders of The Dorset Dairy Company Alex Rawe and her fiancé Dan

What’s the story behind the Dorset Dairy Co?

It all started 60 years ago when Dan’s Grandad moved to Crib House Farm in Stalbridge and started producing milk with just 20 cows. Dan was 18 years old when he became the third generation of the family to work on the farm. Given that we had access to vast amounts of milk, we started looking into ways we could process it. We had a great time experimenting making cheddar, ricotta and kefir on the AGA, but the yoghurt, strained through muslin, was an immediate success. The more we looked into it, the more we realised there was a gap in the market for a healthy artisanal product.

Tell us a little about how you and Dan met.

My grandparents retired in Dorset and I would try to visit them once a month. One fateful Christmas my sister and I thought we’d check out Tinder…Next thing I know, a handsome farmer asks me out for dinner! Nine months later I quit my job and moved down to Dorset. It was quite the lifestyle change but I couldn’t be happier and we’re getting married next year.

The Dorset Dairy Co - strained yoghurt

Alex and Dan’s Greek-style strained yoghurt in action

What kind of yoghurts do you make?

We make two types of yoghurt, Whole Milk Dorset Strained Yoghurt and Fat Free Dorset Strained Yoghurt. The whole milk yoghurt is smooth and creamy, while the fat free yoghurt has a more tangy flavour. They both make a filling breakfast or snack, not to mention a handy cooking ingredient.

How do you make them?

Dan fills up the milk trolley with fresh morning milk, wheels it across the yard into the yoghurt room and pumps it into a vat. We don’t homogenise our milk or add thickeners, nor do we process the yoghurt to make it smoother – meaning each batch is unique. All we do is pasteurise it and add the live bio cultures required to make yoghurt. We then pour the mixture into cloth bags and hang them up to strain out the water and lactose, the old fashioned way. The result is a luxuriously creamy textured proper Dorset-style yoghurt, which is packed with protein and essential minerals and is also low in sugar.

We are very much an artisan producer: our product doesn’t have a complex food chain as the milk comes straight from the parlour to the yoghurt room, and our straining process isn’t mechanised. We use over 3 litres of milk to make 1 kilo of yoghurt. We’re yet to come across any other company in the UK who makes yoghurt this way.

What’s inspired you recently?

Dan’s reading The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferris and he’s constantly quoting from it. Personally, I was very impressed by one of our bulls eating a giant beetroot in one go.

Discover more about The Dorset Dairy Co.

Congratulations to The Dorset Dairy Co for winning a 2-star Great Taste Award 2017 for their Whole Milk Dorset Strained Yoghurt!


“Milkonomics” – How Farmdrop provides a better deal for British dairy farmers than anyone else

4th April 2016

As you’ve probably read, things are looking pretty dire for dairy right now. Our founder Ben Pugh wants to show you how buying the freshest, best-tasting milk at Farmdrop puts the money back into the pockets of our British dairy farmers:

Fixing the food chain is our big mission at Farmdrop. And watching the Countryfile episode on Cattle Farming served as a very good reminder for all of us as to what’s broken.

The farm-gate price of a litre of organic milk (its value as it leaves the farm) is now 38p*. For town-folk (me included) that means little without context. So I explored a few online supermarkets and found that a litre of organic semi-skimmed milk is often being sold at £1.10.

The question that should be on all of our lips is: where – in the name of Daisy – has the other 72p vanished to?

The answer: it has disappeared into the black hole of superstore rents, distribution centre costs and expensive TV campaigns.

In my view – this should not be the case. And with Farmdrop – it isn’t.



Farmer Geoff at Ivy House. 

A litre of Ivy House organic semi-skimmed milk sells on Farmdrop for £1.00 (normal price) – Geoff (Ivy House) receives 83p and Farmdrop retains 17p (which covers the cost of a website, an app and some electric vans. Along with a group of mission driven people – that’s all that Farmdrop is).

Before smart phones and lithium car batteries this would not have been possible – but the good news is that now it is. And we’re doing it.

Importantly this goes beyond the goodness of our hearts and the love we have for amazing independent producers like Geoff at

Ivy House.

By using new technology to create a leaner distribution system, the lion’s share (75% to be precise) of your money goes into the production of your food. And it’s no coincidence that this means healthier animals and land. And in turn, better tasting and healthier food.

*38p was the average price per litre paid by the

Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative in February 2016.

Ben Pugh, founder and CEO of Farmdrop, on the importance of supporting our British dairy farmers and how Farmdrop is giving them a chance to carry on producing the most delicious glass of the white stuff you’ll taste.