How to make hemp milk that doesn’t split

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This of you that have been following me on instagram will already know that I have been experimenting with different plant milks to find vegan substitutes for some of my milk consumption.

The most successful, and the most like regular milk so far was cashew milk but as I also just heard about the process of harvesting cashews, in which the pickers often suffer acid burns, this was never going to be a sustainable replacement for locally produced cows milk for me.

My favourite more sustainable, and more locally grown candidates have therefore been oat milk ( oats also readily available in card or paper and quite cheap) and hemp (so far I have bought this in plastic from local health food store but it grows in the UK and there are other suppliers online). Both of these are amazingly easy to make. Unfortunately both were very strange in hot drinks, sinking straight to the bottom of the cup. However I liked the taste of hemp milk in tea, after a few cups of getting used to the more nutty flavour.

Then came a game changing solution from someone in the Journey to Zero Waste UK Facebook group. I have been experimenting since and now have a homemade hemp milk I am happy to use in tea on a semi regular basis.

All you need is:

  • 1/2 a cup of hemp seeds
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 or 2 dates (or alternative sweetener such as maple syrup)
  • 1 level teaspoon xanthan gum ( you can find this in the baking section of supermarkets or health food stores)
  • A blender
  • A sieve / muslin cloth/ jelly bag

Method:

  • Pop the hemp seeds, date, and water into the blender and, at the last moment, add your teaspoon of xanthan gum.

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  • Blend for several minutes until it looks milk like.

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  • Strain through a sieve. If you prefer to remove all the black specks of hemp seed you will need to pass it through something finer such as a muslin cloth or jelly bag – I usually just use a sieve but see from the photos I took earlier that I used a jelly bag the first time. As the xanthan gum makes the liquid slightly gloopy this may take a while and a bit of assistance from the edge of a spoon – if it is really too thick to go through pop it back into the blender and add a bit more water – you want the consistency to be slightly thick but not too gloopy. It is easier to add more water than to add more xanthan gum which doesn’t seem to mix in properly after the first step.
  • Decant into a bottle or jar and store in the fridge ready for use.

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  • Don’t forget to scrape the sieved out hemp seeds out of the sieve/jelly bag and store those for another use – I have so far used them in cereal bars, granola or added to the next loaf of bread/pizza.
No it's not frogspawn - it's hemp pulp
No it’s not frogspawn – it’s hemp pulp

And that’s it – it should keep for 3-5 days in the fridge. Do let me know if you make it and how you get on. And I would love to hear any other plant milk making tips.

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The easy way to make waste free, wholemeal dried pasta

Who knew that pasta was so simple to make?

I have never been a great fan of pasta, but my son absolutely loves it – he would eat pasta and pesto every single day if I’d let him.  But in the UK it is difficult to find pasta without plastic packaging, particularly if you want to buy in large quantities  (there are some options mainly in card but with a small plastic window).  Having heard it was easy I thought I should give it a go – and it really is easy – and it got the taste approval from my fussy child. You can easily buy flour in a paper bag which you can either recycle or put in your home compost.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups wholemeal bread flour
  • 1 cup hot water

Method:

Making the dough:

  • If you are using a food processor fit the dough attachment.
  • Add the flour, pour in the hot water and switch it on.  It will turn to breadcrumbs to start with but stick with it and it will soon come together into a dough.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface.
  • If you are making the dough by hand place it in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the flour and pour in the hot water a little at a time and mix together  either with your hands or a wooden spoon.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until it comes together in a dough.
  • Press the dough down into a flat round.  Divide into 4 quarters  (this will make it more manageable to roll out later).
  • Cover with a clean dry tea towel and leave for 10-15 minutes.
  • You could freeze all or some of the dough at this point for later use if you wish.

Now you can begin to turn it in into your desired shapes:

  • Working with one piece of dough at a time roll it very thinly.
  • Then you can get creative and cut and shape to your heart’s desire – but be warned, this bit can take a long time.   I like to look on it as something therapeutically undemanding on the brain to do while listening to some muscic but you could get the kids to help or invite a friend round for a natter while you work. Slicing into lasagne sheets or into strips for tagliatelle is probably the quickest.  I tried to make spirals on my first attempt but decided this time that bows might be easier.    For bows I rolled the dough then cut into strips which I then cut across into small rectangles as shown below.  To turn into bows you simply squeeze them together in the middle.

Drying your pasta:

  • If you don’t want to use your pasta straight away you can dry it for storage.  As I have an electric dehydrator I used that but if you don’t you can just spread them out and leave somewhere airy until dry.
  •  The time it takes to dry depends on the size and thickness of the shapes you have made – I dried the small bows for 3-4 hours at 50 degrees C.  The first batch of spirals were larger and took 4-5 hours.  The best thing is to keep an eye on them and remember to swap around the trays from time to time since the different levels may dry at different speeds.
  • Once fully dry you can transfer to a storage jar until needed and cook as you would shop bought dried pasta – around 8-10 mins.    If you skipped the drying part you’ll need to shorten the cooking time.

Now I know how to make basic pasta dough I’m next going to try to sneak some vegetables into the ingredients –  as he’ll happily eat shop bought green pea pasta, and red lentil pasta without realising.  I have seen people making pasta from pumpkin puree and flour as an example – but any recommendations on things to try are welcome – please comment below.

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Red Thai Spicy Parsnip and Coconut Soup

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This is a really tasty way of making the most of the last few winter veggies from the allotment, specially since we had to dig up the last remaining root veg up a couple of weeks ago to move across to the adjacent plot.

You can adapt to whatever veg you have on hand but I used (to serve 2-3 generously):

A couple of parnips (diced)

A potato (diced)

A red onion (chopped)

A clove of garlic (chopped or crushed)

A couple of teaspoons of Red Thai paste

A handful of dessicated coconut (or coconut milk)

A red pepper (sliced)

A small amount of spinach (frozen is fine)

Can add some chill flakes too if you like it more spicy.

Method:

Put the dessicated coconut into a pint jug and fill up with boiling water (or stock if you prefer) .  Leave to one side.

Fry the chopped onion until it starts to soften and then add the garlic (chopped or crushed) and the red Thai paste.

Then add the parsnip, potato, dessicated coconut plus water (or can of coconut milk)

Bring to boil and simmer for approx 10 mins before adding the red pepper and spinach.

Simmer for another 10 mins or so until the potato and parsnip are soft, adding more water/stock as necessary.

Then whizz up in a blender to the consistency you prefer ( personally I prefer to blitz around half then stir back in, leaving the rest with some chunkier pieces).