Grill Hills

Which plant milk is the best-tasting dairy substitute?

Our food expert solves your cooking conundrums

18 June 2020 - 12:31
Non-dairy milk substitutes are becoming more mainstream as the trend towards sustainable eating grows.
Non-dairy milk substitutes are becoming more mainstream as the trend towards sustainable eating grows.
Image: 123RF/Oleksandr Prokopenko

THE QUERY

I've become more environmentally conscious during lockdown as I’ve had more time to think about what we consume at home. We sometimes replace dairy milk with the soy version and have discovered recently that this too is not that planet-friendly. What other plant milks can you recommend as viable options in taste and that are kinder to the environment? - Harold, Pretoria East

THE ANSWER

We hosted an informal blind tasting of a selection on non-dairy milk options with the Sunday Times Lifestyle team recently and compared the taste of soya, almond, oat, coconut and rice milk.

Interestingly oat milk came out tops in taste and it ticks all the right boxes when it comes to the environment too, according to the experts. This sustainable option is considered the “humble hero” of plant milks. Grown in the colder climates of the world, the production of the grain used to make it is not associated with deforestation in developing countries.


If my vegetarian daughter and environmentalist partner are anything to go by, oat milk is the future
Hilary Biller


There’s a hint of sweetness, creaminess and depth to oat milk, a little more akin to dairy, that the other options lack. And if my vegetarian daughter and environmentalist partner are anything to go by, oat milk is the future.

The sale of oat milk has soared globally and it is fast overtaking the sales of almond milk; it's the fastest-growing dairy alternative. As it’s a relatively unknown commodity in SA, it is more expensive than dairy, but on gaining traction that will change. You can find it in specialist health stores and large pharmacies who stock a wide range of health foods.

And if you prefer, it’s really easy to make your own using rolled oats and water:

  • Place 1 cup of rolled oats and 4 cups of water in a blender and blend for a few minutes.
  • Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to develop.
  • Strain through a muslin cloth or cheesecloth — if you don’t have either, a clean pure cotton dishcloth with a coarse weave will work — and squeeze tightly to release all the milk.
  • Store in the fridge and use within a week.

GOT A COOKING QUERY? GRILL HILLS

In a cookery quandary, have a problem with a recipe, bogged down by measurement conversions, or baffled by an ingredient? For sound advice, Sunday Times Food editor Hilary Biller is at your service. Send your queries to food@sundaytimes.co.za, and if yours is selected, we'll answer it in an online article.