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Milk Substitutes Made From Sprouted Oats and other nuts and grains

Copyright (c) 1995 by Thomas E. Billings. This document may be distributed freely for non-commercial purposes provided 1) this copyright notice is included, 2) the document is distributed free of charge, with the sole exception that a photocopy charge, not to exceed ten cents (U.S.) per printed page may be charged by those distributing this paper. All commercial rights reserved; contact author for details (contact address given at end).

Oat sprouts are not commonly consumed, or appreciated by, the sprouting community. This is unfortunate, as the oat sprout has a flavor that is similar to dairy (cow's) milk, and it can be used to make a number of good milk substitutes.

The problem with oats is that to sprout them you must use unhulled oats. So- called "whole oats" or "oat groats" won't sprout. The only (known) general source for unhulled oats is Jaffe Bros., a mail-order firm specializing in organic foods, address: P.O. Box 636, Valley Center, Calif. 92082-0636; phone 619-749-1133.

Using oat sprouts as a base, one can prepare many types of sprout milk. There are two basic recipes (really two versions of the same recipe) that can be used. The basic methods are described below, and produce a large glass of sprout milk (approx 1.75-2.0 cups of liquid). To produce larger quantities of sprout milk, simply multiply quantities below by the appropriate scale factor.

Method 1
Take 1/4 cup dry sprouting oats and 1/8 cup of other grain/seed. Soak overnight (12 hours) then put in sprouting environment for 1.5 days - i.e., allow to sprout for 1.5 days. At that point the sprouts can be processed into milk, or refrigerated and processed later. To make milk, rinse sprouts, put in blender. Add one cup water, blend on high for 30 seconds. Stop blender, add 2/3 cup water and blend for 30 more seconds. Then strain using steel mesh sieve. Use spoon to squeeze ground pulp to get maximum extraction of sprout liquids. Discard pulp; the liquid left is, of course, the sprout milk. Add extra water to milk, if necessary, to adjust to your taste preference. Drink immediately if possible; can be refrigerated but length of storage life is unknown. Also the milk will oxidize quickly in the refrigerator -- best if taken *fresh*, with enzymes and nutrients at their maximum.

Method 2
Take 1/4 cup dry sprouting oats, soak overnight, sprout for 1.5 days as above. Take 1/8 cup other grain/seed, and soak/sprout accordingly (will vary by seed type). In this method, the oats are usually sprouted separately from the other grain/seed. When ready, put rinsed oat sprouts in blender, grind and strain as above to give milk made only of oat sprouts. Discard oat hull pulp as above. Rinse out blender, put oat milk and other (rinsed) sprouted grain/seed in, blend on high for 30-45 seconds. Straining optional here; generally not recommended. Use immediately or refrigerate, as above.

Note that the oat sprout should be very short, i.e., the root tip should be just emerging from the seed, for use in milk. Long sprouts are not desirable here. Using the cloth method, this occurs at *approximately* 1.5 days; sprouts can take more or less time depending on seed viability and other factors. If you use the jar method or other method (i.e., commercial sprouter) of sprouting, it may take slightly more or less time (probably longer time in jar), for the sprouts to reach the optimal growth stage.

Once the milk has been made, using either method, one can add options: sweetener of choice (*raw* honey, date sugar, raisins, etc), flavorings such as carob, vanilla bean, and so on.

Below is a summary of oat milk recipes tested, listed by (subjective) flavor quality. Grain/seed blends listed are approximately 50-50%, by volume. Additional comments follow at the end. Reminder: the recipe is 1/4 cup oats (sprouted ~1.5 days) plus 1/8 cup grain/seed given below (produced as indicated; times are for cloth method of sprouting), made using milk method suggested below. Note that the 1/8 cup is approximate; for (shelled) nuts below, use more to compensate for spacing of nuts in measuring cup.

Rated Excellent in Flavor

                               Milk Proc. 
Grain/Seed      Production     Method     Comments

Almonds         spr, 1.0 day     2        remove skins from almonds before 
                                          blending; don't sprout more than 1 
                                          day, don't refrigerate almond sprouts
                                          more than 1 day; used 20 almonds in 
                                          recipe. Wonderful flavor!

Sesame          spr, 1.0 days    2        can use soaked 12 hrs instead; sprout
                                          and refrig time should not exceed 1.5
                                          days else sprouts can turn bitter

Wheat           spr, 1.5 days    1        very much like dairy milk; easy to
                                          make and  economical!

Buckwheat       spr, 1.5 days    1        use raw hulled buckwheat groats; soak
                                          only 15-45 minutes (add buckwheat at
                                          end of oat soak); very smooth and 
                                          excellent milk; recommend immediate
                                          use as flavor can get strong in 

Blend: Wheat/   spr, 1.5 days     1       comments on buckwheat apply; very 
Buckwheat                                 smooth, excellent milk.

Filberts        soak 12 hrs       1       very rich flavor!  Also easier to
                                          make than other nut milks.

Brazil nuts     soak 12 hrs       1       superb flavor! Pre-shelled nuts were
                                          boiled before shelling, so are not 
                                          raw; recommend using in-shell nuts 
                                          that you shell by hand. Flavor gets
                                          stronger when refrigerated.

Rated Very Good in Flavor

                               Milk Proc. 
Grain/Seed      Production     Method     Comments

Pine Nuts       soak 8-12 hrs     2       don't soak pine nuts more than 12 hrs;
                                          can get mushy. Also might want to
                                          strain milk twice. Milk is flavorful;
                                          tastes just like pine nuts.

Macadamias      soak 12 hrs       2       smooth, distinctive flavor. Might
                                          want to strain out macadamia pulp -
                                          can be gritty. Soaking has little
                                          effect on macadamias.

Walnuts         soak 12 hrs       2       very good but might want to add 
                                          sweetener. Recommend using organic
                                          in-shell nuts that you shell by hand,
                                          then soak shelled nut meats.

Pecans          soak 8-12 hrs     2       sweeter than walnut milk; pecans can
                                          mushy if soaked more than 12 hours;
                                          use in-shell nuts that you shell by
                                          hand  (pre-shelled pecans are heat
                                          treated and are technically not raw!)

Pumpkin Seeds   soak 12 hrs       1       sprouting pumpkin seeds can be hard -
                                          high spoilage rate. Soaking safer,
                                          more reliable.

Raw Sesame      out of jar,       2      smooth, creamy; not as good as milk
Tahini          1-2 tablespoons          made with sesame sprouts! 
Blend: Wheat/   spr, 1.5 days     1      not as good as pure wheat; barley
Barley                                   content reduces shelf life

Blend: Barley/  spr, 1.5 days     1      comments on buckwheat and shelf life
Buckwheat                                of barley apply

Peanuts         spr, 1.0 day      1      method 2 can be used if desired. Remove
                                         peanut skins before using in milk.
                                         Discard peanut sprouts if yellow mold
                                         develops; because of mold, best to 
                                         sprout peanuts and oats separately.
                                         Milk tastes like sprouted peanuts.

Rated Good/Fair in Flavor

                               Milk Proc. 
Grain/Seed      Production     Method     Comments

Coconut, fresh  crack, remove     1       can use method 2 - straining advised
                coconut meat              as otherwise milk is gritty. Can save
                                          coconut water and use in milk; gives
                                          very (too) sweet milk. Milk is a bit
                                          oily. Coconut is hard to blend - blend
                                          for at least 90 seconds.

Barley          spr, 1.5 days     1       easy to make; has short shelf life
                                          as barley ferments (fermented barley 
                                          sprouts are a major ingredient of

Sunflower Seeds spr, 0.75 day     1/2     stronger flavor than other milks;
                                          milk has "protein"  or "earthy" flavor

Oats            spr, 1.5 days     1       pure oat sprout milk - a bit bland,
                                          but certainly drinkable!

Corn            spr, 1.5 days     1       smooth, bland, with slightly sweet
                                          aftertaste. Suggest using 2.5 day old
                                          (field) corn sprouts for sweeter
                                          flavor. Need to use jar for 2.5 day 
                                          sprouts; mold likely in cloth method.

Rice            spr, 1.0 day      1       bland, but has nice texture. To
                                          sprout short grain brown rice: soak
                                          12 hrs, change water, soak 12 more 
                                          hours. Then allow to sprout 1 day, no
                                          longer (rice sprouts can get bitter 
                                          after 1 day).

Millet          spr, 1.5 days     1       smooth but bland flavor. Millet 
                                          sprouts are tiny and crunchy; may 
                                          need to strain twice

Rye             spr, 1.5 days     1       has a grainy aftertaste; might be 
                                          better if use 1.0 day old rye sprouts

Kala Channa     spr, 1.5 days     1       kala channa is a miniature garbanzo
                                          bean, available from (East) Indian
                                          food stores. Flavor same as garbanzo,
                                          but easier/more reliable to sprout.
                                          Milk has strong protein taste; can
                                          disguise flavor by adding ginger. 
                                          Not recommended due to strong flavor.

Additional Comments

  • Ratings of Oat Sprout Milks:
    • Best in Flavor: Almond (truly delicious!)
    • Best For Ease of Preparation: Wheat, Filbert, Buckwheat, Wheat/Buckwheat blend
    • Best for Low Cost of Ingredients: Wheat (delicious!)
    • Best Overall: Wheat, Almond

    Note: the above ratings reflect the (subjective) tastes of the author.

  • Shelf life under refrigeration has not been tested for most of the above milks. Based on earlier tests, suggest a maximum storage period of 2 days for milks made with barley. Buckwheat, if it oxidizes, can develop a strong flavor; suggest using milks made with buckwheat immediately (within 2-3 hours). Other types of milks not tested for shelf life.
  • The following items were not tested but might be useful in making sprout milks:
    • Kamut - a large grained type of wheat; should give results similar to wheat
    • Spelt - very similar to wheat; should give similar results
    • Triticale - cross between wheat and rye; should give similar results

    Note: ordinary wheat gives an excellent milk and is cheaper than the above.

  • Suggest you do *not* use for sprout milks:
    • Amaranth, quinoa - very strong and unpleasant flavor
    • "Raw" Cashews - so-called raw cashews are heated in processing and are really not raw. Cashews also ferment very quickly in water, so keep that in mind if you experiment with them.
    • Pistachios - thick peel can get slimy in water; suggest you use unsoaked or peel soaked pistachios, if you experiment with them.
    • Legumes/beans, such as lentils, mung beans, and so on - would give milk an unpleasant flavor (see kala channa above for test of milk made from a bean).


First, I will present a detailed description of the method I use to make milk substitutes, then will describe some simplifications/options in making it. Equipment needed: stainless steel sieve with handle (2-3 cup capacity), bowl of a size such that the sieve can rest on its rim, cotton handkerchief (clean), tablespoon or similar large spoon, blender.

Time 0: Take 1/3 cup unhulled sprouting oats, and: 1/4 cup sprouting wheat -or- other grains/seeds, and soak in water. Take 15 (large) - 20 (small) almonds and soak in water. After 30-90 minutes, change almond soak water (note first water is brownish with tannic acid). You may lose some water soluble nutrients, but you also lose much of the tannic acid; changing the water once gives a sweeter, final product. Note: the almonds are soaked separately from the grains. The oats and other grains/seeds are generally soaked and sprouted together, but they can be done separately if desired.

Time: 0.5 days Take oat/wheat or oat/rice out of soak and put in sprouting environment. Similar for almonds, but sprout separately from grains. Optional: in a very small container, put 1 teaspoon of flax seed, and a small amount of cardamom seed, in water to soak: refrigerate. Place 10-12 lotus seeds in a small amount of water, and refrigerate.

Time: 1.0 day Rinse oats and almonds in sprouting environment

Time: 1.5 days Rinse oats again in sprouting environment. Rinse almonds and remove from sprouting environment - refrigerate.

Time: approx. 2.0 days Now it is time to make the sprout milk. Begin by peeling the sprouted almonds. This is made much easier if you blanch the almond sprouts by putting them in a sieve and running hot water (from the faucet, 140 deg F, not boiling water!) over them for about 20-30 seconds. Peel almonds and set aside (blanch can be done earlier, at 1.5 days, if that is easier for you). Note: if doing more than 20 almonds, blanch only 20 at a time. If you do too many at once, they cool off and peeling becomes difficult.

Take grain out of sprouting environment, and (optional) soaked flaxseed from refrigerator - rinse in sieve, put in blender. Take 1.75 cups water, put half in blender with grain. Run blender at medium for about 60 seconds. Then add the rest of water, run on high another 60 seconds. Then turn down to low, let run for 1 minute at least.

Place the sieve on the rim of a bowl. Turn off blender, pour contents into sieve. Use large spoon to stir mixture, with liquid draining into bowl. Use 1/3 cup water to rinse blender, put rinse water into sieve. Using spoon to apply pressure to sprout pulp in sieve, press as much liquid out of material as possible. Discard pulp, clean sieve. Rinse blender again, discarding rinse water. Now put peeled almonds in clean blender, also drain soaked lotus seeds and place in blender. Can add optional ingredients in blender here: sweetener - 1+ tbsp raw honey, or freeze dried sugarcane juice. Flavorings: 1/2 level tsp of cinnamon, or 1/2 inch of vanilla bean. Other options: small amount of acidophilus powder.

Now line the sieve with clean handkerchief, and strain the milk mixture through it into the blender. Use handkerchief to make a small bag in the sieve; lift bag up and down to speed filtration. When most of the liquid has drained through the sieve, use large spoon to press remaining pulp in the wet handkerchief. Later, wash handkerchief (can use cheesecloth here instead). This step is not absolutely necessary, but it makes a smoother product and removes tiny oat hull pieces not filtered out in the first filtration.

Now turn blender on medium for a few seconds to grind up almonds. Then turn to low and let run for 2 minutes. Finally, you're done. Pour sprout milk into glasses (will yield 2 good sized glasses, about 3 cups), refrigerate. Will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.


* Use whole oats (won't sprout) instead of sprouting oats - soak 12 hrs instead of soak + sprout cycle above. Sprouting oats can be obtained from Jaffe Bros. in Valley Center, California; phone 619-749-1133.

* Soak/sprout additional grains/seeds (hulled only), separate from oats, and grind them up intact with almonds into final milk. Will give much thicker sprout milk, at cost of extra handling in sprouting and soaking stage.


* One can add the optional, soaked flaxseed with the almonds for final blend. Caution: you may experience a laxative effect from the flax seeds.

* If you want to use cardamom as flavoring, use whole decorticated seeds that are soaked overnight to soften. Can use powder instead, but watch out: it has hulls ground with it and can be quite bitter.

* Sweetener is not required but can be quite good. Some people who try this milk substitute report that it can be bitter if unsweetened. If that happens to you, suggest you add something to sweeten, and omit/do not use, the optional cardamom.

* Vanilla is the best flavoring, in my opinion. It is also expensive. Cinnamon is very nice, and the plain/unflavored milk can be good also.

* Can use soaked dried fruit (dates, raisins, figs) as sweetener but they overwhelm the mild flavor of the sprout milk. Not worth the trouble, in my opinion.

* Surprise: bananas + sprout milk tastes *bitter*! Not recommended. Also, fennel seed powder + sprout milk is bitter.

* Some raw food recipe books have recipes for milks made exclusively from almonds (good, but quite expensive), and milks made exclusively from sprouted wheat (can be very strong tasting if wheat sprouts are at the super-sweet stage). So there are alternatives to oats. The primary advantage of oats is that the flavor is closer to the flavor of regular (dairy) milk.

* Oats - are regarded by Western herbalists as a tonic for the nervous system.

* A homeopathic preparation of oats (Avena Sativa) was in the news in 1996; supposedly it enhanced people's sexual stamina. I make no claims regarding such an effect from oat sprout milk!

Author Contact:
Thomas E. Billings
2125 Delaware St; #F
Berkeley, CA 94709

May 1998: Supplement to Oat-Milk Articles

It is appropriate to clarify a few important details regarding the topic of milk substitutes made from sprouted oats.

1. As I have stated previously on veg-raw/raw-food e-mail lists, detailed nutritional compositional data on milk substitutes made from sprouted oats (or almonds or other sprouted grains), are not available.

2. I have also pointed out (in the past) that the nutritional composition of such milk substitutes may, in some cases, be low-fat (as oats are low-fat). Further, the nutritional composition of such milk substitutes clearly does differ, in a significant way, from real milk (whether animal or human). Real milk has vitamins B-12 and D in it; most vegans are aware that oats (and other sprouts) do not contain those vitamins.

3. Accordingly, milk substitutes from sprouts should not be used in the feeding of infants, except on the advice of a qualified nutritionist or health professional. In particular, sprout milk, depending on the formulation, may be low or deficient in EFAs: essential fatty acids.


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