[NAFEX] Making Hickory Milk

Stephen Sadler Docshiva at Docshiva.org
Thu Nov 20 13:13:39 EST 2008

You may have to experiment a bit.  


I’m afraid the Choctaw portion of my ethnic mix is back far too many
generations to have detailed steps handy.  But I have some thoughts: 


The traditional method was to crush the nuts – shells and all – and boil in
water.   “Hickory milk,” rich in oil, floated to the top and could be
skimmed or drawn off.  The equipment here is simple: a hammer and a
stockpot.  I would imagine you want a large proportion of nuts to water.   I
would crush (by one of several methods) the whole nuts, boil them, strain
through cheesecloth, and decant .  For a very small quantity, you could use
a gravy separator separate water from the creamy hickory milk.  For a larger
quantity, I would use the reservoir from a steam juicer, letting the water
run out through the tubing, stopping, then removing the milk; or I would try
a cream separator.  


In modern times nut milks are made using a blender.  The general portion is
about a third cup of nuts to a cup of water, but the blender hickory milk
recipe I found uses a cup of shelled nuts to 1½ cups water. That would make
quite a slurry, but might yield a creamier/oilier product more similar to
the traditional.  It could be a challenge for a blender.  I might try a food
processor at that proportion, unless I had (and I do) a high-powered blender
such as Vitamix or Blendtec.  Hot water’s very likely to get a better/oilier
product, but starches in the nuts may thicken the slurry.   Strain the milk
through cheesecloth (tight-woven, or triple thickness, I would think).  I
would try different proportions, but a higher proportion would be what I
would be looking for; it’s going to be less watery, and if too thick, would
store as a bit of a concentrate that could later be thinned.    Thicker and
colder will strain slower than thinner and hotter.


As for putting up your milk: I think it would probably freeze well for about
3 months.  I wouldn’t preserve it any other way.  But you can lengthen the
time of storage and the quality in storage by vacuum-sealing then freezing.
You can freeze in a shallow bowl or pan, then use hot water on the bottom of
the pan to release it, place in a cheap plastic bag, then put that bag in a
vacuum-sealer bag, seal and freeze.

Or freeze in jars with lots of headspace, and use the jar sealer attachment
to a vacuum sealer, and freeze.  Or heat the hickory milk, pour into clean
canning jars, apply lids and rings and boiling water bath for fifteen
minutes.   You’re not trying to can (although it won’t hurt to sterilize
your jars and lids first), just to evacuate – get the air out.  Let the jars
cool thoroughly – probably overnight – check the seals and freeze.
Vacuum-sealed then frozen I would guess it would last a year.  Generally
vacuum sealing will extend freezer storage by about 5 times.  


All this is guesswork, but I assume you’d be thawing and using the product
throughout the year, so you’d have an idea of whether a batch was losing
quality.  Of course, depending on how troublesome it is to make the milk, it
may be easiest to store the nuts and make batches as needed.


In all this I’ve been assuming you want the oil-rich hickory milk.  If you
want a milk substitute, just do the blender method and start with about a
3:1 water-nut ratio, a tiny pinch of salt, and a bit of honey to taste, then
adjust the water:nut ratio until you get a product you like (this is the
‘universal’ recipe for nut milk – I think hickory will want a higher
proportion of nuts).


If you happen to have a soy milk maker, it might just automate the entire
process, substituting nuts for soybeans.   It does the cooking, grinding,
and straining.


~ Stephen


From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of
kelly at theravenrocks.com
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2008 7:58 AM
To: North American Fruit Explorers
Subject: [NAFEX] Making Hickory Milk


I need detailed steps for making hickory milk. I especially want to know if
it can be stored (maybe frozen?) for several months.




Kelly Coffey

western North Carolina

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