I’ve been drinking oat milk lattes on days when I find myself working from coffee shops, which is a shorter way of saying my expensive coffee habit has become more so and I’m feeling late to a party that I didn’t know existed.
After listening to beleaguered baristas in one neighborhood café pass their morning telling hopeful customers that no, alas, they do not have oat milk, I found myself, quite by accident, in the neighborhood café that does serve oat milk. Curious, I placed my order. Delighted, I drank my whole cup.
Since then, I’ve become one of the same eager oat milk enthusiasts perkily inquiring after the milk alternative that doesn’t taste like a bummer. Despite my relative innocence on the subject, oat milk isn’t actually new. Bon Appetit covered the “milk ready to dethrone almond milk” more than two years ago and cited Stockholm coffee shops as starting the trend. In conducting my own lay person’s research, I’ve found that most coffee shops carry the Swedish oat milk brand, Oatly.
I couldn’t pass on the opportunity for a good kitchen experiment and so I endeavored to make my own. Oats, I figured are delicious, full of vitamins and nutrients that, to borrow a phrase, do a body good, and perhaps most intriguingly, they’re extremely inexpensive. A jar of hazelnut milk in the fridge is a lovely thing to have, but it’s rich in more ways than one.
In my quest to recreate that perfect coffee shop foam, I made milk from rolled oats and milk from steel cut oats. I used a ratio of 2:1 water to oats and 3:1 water to oats. I let some oats soak overnight and blended others straight away. I strained using a nut bag and I strained using thicker cotton cloth. I had tiny jars of differing blends littering my kitchen and providing endless interest to my small children.
Here’s the part where I tell you that despite the many, many iterations of oat milk that graced my apartment counter, I was never quite able to recreate the rich, creaminess of the stuff served up warm and fluffed in fancy coffee shops. Heated on the stove, I found that no matter the method I’d undertaken to make the milk, the milk glopped up a bit. It wasn’t undrinkable, but it did fall on the gelatinous end of the spectrum. Left unheated, I still wasn’t able to get the same froth that I’ve been able to with cow and nut milks. (Oatly rejoices.)
Still, poured into a morning smoothie, substituted for cow’s milk in a batch of muffins, gulped enthusiastically by kids eager to try something new, the milk was nevertheless a hit. For now I’ll leave the lattes to the experts, but I’m not giving up on oat milk altogether.
In case you’d like to try a batch of your own, I thought I’d share the recipe I like the best.
Here’s what you need:
1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups of water
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
Here’s what to do:
+ Combine oats, water, salt, and sugar and soak for several hours or overnight, until the oats have plumped a bit.
+ Blend in a high-speed blender until the waters turns cloudy and thick. (The goal is not to obliterate the oats entirely.)
+ Strain the milk into a clean jar using a fine-mesh nut bag and refrigerate. (You can cook your strained oats as you would oatmeal, adding a bit more water and heating on the stove.)
For the curious:
What about you guys? Oat milk enthusiasts out there? Anyone with better luck at getting the fluff?