World Plant Milk Day
Plant-Based Milks and Where to Use Them
August 22, 2023
Vegan milks are sourced exclusively from plant-based sources and, contrary to what some may believe, are just as suited to cooking, baking and other culinary preparations as animal-derived milks. Since the taste, texture and consistency of plant milks are quite varied, however, it’s key to know which works best for what outcome.
Primarily sourced from nuts and grains the varieties available on the market today are myriad, and therefore some are better suited to specific uses than others.
Generally speaking plant milks are made by soaking the raw plant material in water, grinding it and blending the mixture before filtering and then homogenising the solution. Flavourings and sweeteners are added after this process, as well as nutritional fortification.
Which milk is best suited for which purpose? Results may vary per brand, but let’s explore some suggestions. Remember to check whether your plant-based product is sweetened or unsweetened, since this will impact the taste of the final result.
Soy Milk: Widely considered the most optimal plant milk to bake with, it has similar texture, fat count and protein to dairy milk, maintaining consistency with sugars that aid browning to baked goods. It also works well in custards, dessert sauces and other kinds of pâtisserie. Soy milk is often known as a default alternative to animal milks, and is a good equivalent for most basic recipes and beverages.
Almond Milk: Usually sweetened and typically vanilla-flavoured, almond milk wouldn’t necessarily be the first choice for savoury dishes, but can be utilised for desserts, sweetened pastries and is popular in hot beverages.
Oat Milk: A rising star in the plant-milk aisle, oat milk is versatile and has a creamy texture that doesn’t overpower. Add it to sauces and hearty dishes that require thickening and a richer mouth-feel. It’s also used in vegan cream and ice cream. Oat milk has great consistency and is also used for foam and froth in coffees or lattes.
Coconut Milk: With a stronger flavour profile, coconut milk is best avoided for beverages but ideal for soups, sauces and smoothies. There are different types of coconut milk with varieties of texture and nutritional properties, but ordinarily they have higher fat content and a creamy consistency.
Rice Milk: With the tendency to have a lighter, more watery texture, rice milk is a slightly more challenging alternative to work with for cooking purposes. Not as suitable for recipes that require a more dense nutritional component, it may be used for beverages, light sauces and is especially useful for glazes.
Flax Milk: Not easy to get in every country, flax milk makes for an interesting alternative all round, but doesn’t tend to function well where the milk is being used as a thickener. Use in pastries and beverages, but not sauces.
Plant-milk sources all taste good and are nutritious. They don’t work as well across the board, but there’s always one that best suits whatever you intend to make. Today there are also numerous blended products available with amalgamated texture properties and diverse flavour palates.
Not sure about what plant milk to try next? Sample one of the dozens we’ve discovered on the South African market:
The Plant Milk Report
Check out our report that documents the rise of plant milk in recent years, and explores its potential importance in terms of establishing a healthy and sustainable diet for the planet. Download it here: https://proveg.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/PV_Plant_Milk_Report_281019-1.pdf