How to Make Rice Milk

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on August 10, 2009

I have suspected a dairy allergy in both of my kids for a long time.  Since nursing them, really.

Without going into all the gory details, I knew something was just not right with their tummies and how they reacted to milk.  I tried soy milk, and that seemed to help.  But their the symptoms remained.  We did several rounds of allergy and metabolic testing, only to come up short, with no clear diagnosis.

After discovering earlier this summer that my oldest has EE (eosinophilic esophagitis…aka food allegy that was causing swelling in his esophagus), more extensive testing was done.  “Patch allergy testing” on his back revealed that he is allergic to dairy, potatoes, ham, lamb, turkey, pears, rye and fish (although the type and variety is still unknown.)  “Patch allergy testing” is where they place 30 different foods under a large sticker patch on the patient’s back and leave it there for 48 hours.  This will reveal “delayed allergies,” as opposed to immediate allergies picked up by traditional skin prick testing. I had been suspecting “delayed allergies” all along.  We were instructed to eliminate all of those from his diet to see how he responds, and return later for follow up testing.  After follow up, we will reintroduce each food 1 at a time to see how he reacts to them.

Dairy, oh dairy! That and potatoes would be/have been the hardest to eliminate.

I’m fortunate to have  Trader Joes in my town, so while the boys were on the GFCF (gluten free casien/dairy free) diet earlier this year, I would stop in once a month and get about $40 in rice milk alone.  But that’s a HUGE chunk of change for this special milk.

So I set out to find an alternative.

Here’s how the story goes…early June.  Blender top crahsed onto the floor.  Shattered.

“Nobody move. Kids stay in your chairs.  Mommy needs to sweep and vacuum this glassy mess.”

Boy, wouldn’t it be nice to get a VitaMix. Plastic container. 7 year warranty. Powerful machine.  The Lambourghini of blenders, if you will!

Seriously.  That was my first thought. I knew all about them because a friend had one when we lived in the Dominican Republic.  And she raved.

But they are so expensive.

I googled. I e-bayed. I craigslisted.  I searched high and low.  For weeks.

We discussed.  We cost analyzed.  We said no. Too much. We said yes. Invest.  We said no. We said yes.

You get the picture.

After much debating, wavering and analyzing, we decided it would be worth the investment.  Factoring in just the cost of rice milk (not thinking of all the other cool things it can do), it would take 10 months for it to pay itself off.

Not only to make the rice milk, but for making homemade sauces, salsas, soups, smoothies, etc.  We got it a few weeks ago.  And there is not a day that has gone by that I have not used it (except when we were out of town ;)!

So I have been using the new VitaMix to make rice milk.  I have yet to experiment with almond milk.  Unless I strike an amazing price on bulk almonds, we’ll stick to rice milk for now.

Ingredients
1 cup cooked brown rice
4 cups water
1 Tbsp sweetener (prefer honey or agave nectar)
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)

Directions
1. Cook 1 cup uncooked brown rice with a dash of salt according to package instructions. This will cook up into about 2 cups of cooked rice. Allowing for 2 batches, or 8 cups of milk.
2. Add 1 cup cooked brown rice with 4 cups water. Add sweetener and vanilla, if desired.
3. Blend on high for up to 3 minutes, or until water turns white.
4. I don’t strain our milk, but others do. I just shake it up well before serving.
5. Store in fridge.

I use this rice milk for cooking, baking, in cereal, in smoothies and for drinking. I typically make an average of 2 8 cup batches per week (1 gallon a week), depending on how much we use! I typically boost the kids smoothies with a powdered calcium supplement, but might try adding it straight into the milk.

I figure the cost of rice and sweetener is about $.45 per half gallon.  Much better than $3/half gallon from the store!

An huge investment, yes. Worth every penny. Yes!

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy August 10, 2009 at 8:19 am

Non-dairy milk is so expensive. I’ve been experimenting making my own here too after I realized I was spending $20/wk on it. I did almond last week and we made cookies with the leftover pulp so that helped recoup the cost a little. I bought a vitamix 13 months ago after a month of debating after our old blender broke. I use it all the time it’s definitely been worth the investment. I use it 2-3 times a day on average and I even lugged it on vacation this summer because I couldn’t imagine being without it for 3 weeks. lol

One of my kids favorite non-dairy treats in the vitamix is strawberry sorbet. Soak a couple rings of dried pineapple in a 1/2 cup or so of OJ for 30-60 minutes. Put that in the vitamix with a 10 oz bag of frozen strawberries. All 6 of my kids like it which is rare here. You can add a little honey but I usually don’t. It depends on the sweetness of the berries.

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Stephanie August 10, 2009 at 9:09 am

I love my VitaMix too! It, and Juice Plus, have been the best investments we have made in our journey toward healthy eating. Thanks, Erin!

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Lynn August 10, 2009 at 9:30 am

I went back and forth on the vitamix too. But then my blender broke recently. I was tired of cheap blenders. I went ahead and invested in a vitamix. Mine came last week and I LOVE it. I have used it everyday, sometimes 2 times a day. I can’t believe what it can do. It is an investment, but I am with you, you will end up saving a lot by making things at home and they will be a lot healthier.

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Mandi August 10, 2009 at 9:41 am

Congratulations! My husband and I did the same debate due to my Ulcerative Colitis and I have to admit it’s one of the best kitchen investments we’ve made. Not only has it given me a way to get my fruits and vegetables in liquid form (the Taco soup recipe is the best), we haven’t paid hardly anything for baby food. So just wait for those savings to start rolling in! I think the only thing we would change about our purchase is I wish we would have gotten the dry container and small container to go along with it. Happy Vitamixing!

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Jean August 10, 2009 at 9:56 am

If anyone else is looking at getting a VitaMix – and cringing at the price – you might look into finding a “friend” so that you can purchase two at one time. My cousin told me that she & her sister (who I guess is also my cousin!) got a “deal” b/c they purchased two at the same time – they were both refurbished, too. I think they got them directly from the VitaMix website, so might be worth checking out.

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Sasha August 10, 2009 at 10:28 am

I use coconut milk, homemade, of course. I have bad allergies/reactions to any and all starches including rice. I have ulcerative colitis which means to completely control and not bleed out, i stay away from starches and sugars, and all refined foods. Not easy, but well worth it.
My family, however, needs lower cost meals, especially while my husband is attending med school out of the states.
I really appreciate your blog. While we don’t make our meals for $5 (5 children, developing country, not the easiest shopping), your ideas help keep our food bill within our budget.
Thanks!

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Amber @ Classic Housewife August 10, 2009 at 11:04 am

Really? Making your own milk??!!

I’m curious, I’ve never had to buy anything other than cow’s milk. Nutritionally speaking, how does rice milk stack up? Could I start making this just to have a cheaper alternative for cooking with (and maybe even for on the morning cereal?) Or would I end up needing to adjust their calcium intake somewhere else if I did that? And how long does it keep in the fridge? (I need to know more!!!) =P

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Erin August 10, 2009 at 12:10 pm

We go through it in 3-4 days, so I’m not sure how long it lasts in the fridge. Not sure nutritionally! And I use it to cook and bake with…never know the difference!

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Katie August 10, 2009 at 11:21 am

I’ve been trying to talk my mom into giving me her VitaMix for a few years. She doesn’t use it every day. We currently have an Oster and I love it.

I’m going to have to try making rice milk. We may be going GFCF in a few months for our 22 month old. Buying it at Whole Foods is expensive!

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Katie August 10, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Erin,
That is great, that you can make the rice milk and have such a cost savings!

I am curious….what do you do about calcium? I have often thought of making homemade soymilk (we have dairy allergies here as well!) and I realized that one of my big draws to buying the expensive soymilk is the calcium in it.

Katie

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Erin August 10, 2009 at 12:47 pm

I have been putting calcium powder from a capsule into the lunch smoothies everyday, plus they take a multivitamin with breakfast. I’ll probably start adding the calcium powder into the milk now!

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Melissa August 10, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I am going to have to try this! I have a 4 year old daughter who is allergic to milk. And our closest Trader Joe’s is 1 hour away. So, this would be great time wise and dollar wise!

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Kim@FamilyNatural August 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm

I have been making my own almond milk weekly to save over the cost of boxed rice milk. It probably costs a little more than the homemade rice milk (which I can’t wait to try), but still less than the boxed. It only takes about 1/2-3/4 cups of almonds to make 1 liter, which is the amount in one box.
Here’s the link to my recipe: http://bit.ly/WzrGe
I think that the raw almond milk may have some nutritional benefits to consider; raw nuts are little storehouses of power!
By the way, we use our Vitamix daily, have for years, and can’t imagine not having it.

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Becky August 10, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Thanks for the recipe, Erin!

You make a good point about adding calcium; many don’t realize that rice milk is lacking in calcium and also in the fats that babies and toddlers especially need to develop normally, so making sure that this is made up through supplementation and other food sources is an important thing for parents to be aware of. There was even at least one high profile death of a 5 month old baby due to malnutrition after a rice milk diet in Australia, sadly due to loving parents’ lack of awareness of this issue.

This site from Seattle and King County’s public health department has a great overview of some of the rice and soy milk commercial products to help parents figure out where gaps for calcium, fat, and protein need to be made up through other sources – http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthServices/health/nutrition/~/media/health/publichealth/documents/nutrition/rice_soy_milk.ashx

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Katie August 10, 2009 at 3:17 pm

We have a Costco membership so I can buy rice milk in bulk. It’s definitely cheaper than our local grocery store price, but you’re right it certainly adds up. I’d looked into making rice milk before but stopped myself because of the fortification issue. I hadn’t even thought of using a powdered vitamin supplement. I’ll have to look into that.

@Amber – we bake/cook with rice milk all the time. Just substitute 1:1. The only caution is that it doesn’t work all that well in applications where you have to boil it — it tends to separate. Also it’s like using skim/low-fat milk so if something calls for whole milk (and really means it — lol) something like coconut milk is probably a better choice.

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Lana August 10, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Hi there. My son has many food allergies including cow’s milk. Anyway, I see that you buy Smart Balance butter from your pictures. I’m wondering what non-dairy butter you use that is dairy free. The only one I’ve found is unsalted fleishmans’s stick butter. The smart balance contains whey which is from milk.

Thank you!

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Monica October 5, 2009 at 1:24 pm

@Lana,
Smart Balance Light is actually vegan and dairy free. You have to buy the light that specifies dairy free on the front. My son has a milk allergy and we have been using this for a long time with no problems!

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Alisa - Go Dairy Free & Frugal Foodie August 10, 2009 at 11:36 pm

I have been pondering a vitamix as of late. My blender is still going strong (knock on wood), but I am in need of a food processor and debating just going with a vitamix instead. Hmm.

I do like the idea of more homemade milk though!

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Julie August 11, 2009 at 1:30 am

I got my vitamix after my about 5-6 years ago. I used it to make babyfood. I have never bought a jar of it and I have 4 kids. I love it and use it almost daily. We also make our own rice milk and go through 68 oz everyother day. We cook/ bake and use it on cereal. We use it for everything you would use cow’s milk for. We make chocolate milk and sometimes strawberry (just add strawberries and blend) and occasionally banana. We’ve made almond milk, but prefer rice. Even when we bought both milks, they preferred rice. As far as it not being fortefied, I don’t worry about that because we eat lots of greens and greens are loaded with calcium etc. I daily make smoothies for the kids, sometimes for breakfast. Bananas, water (enough to blend) strawberries or whatever fruit we have and then add some greens and blend. Oh, we also add flax seed and occasionally nuts to our smoothies. The possibilities are endless with smoothies and very nutrutios. We call it a “Shrek Smoothie” and they can’t even taste the greens. I do give a vitamin every day.

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LuAnn August 11, 2009 at 3:29 am

Holy mackerel! I know what I’m asking Santa for this year! :D

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Jillbert August 13, 2009 at 7:44 am

I bought a vitamix 6 months ago and, like you, debated over whether it was too expensive for me. I’m sooooo glad I got it. We use ours for green smoothies and making sauces with veggies mainly (though I make crepe & pancake batter often). My children’s veggie intake has gone WAY up. We live a VERY frugal life but I feel the vitamix was worth every cent!

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Nickel Pickle August 13, 2009 at 2:56 pm

I will have to try this!! My little girl only drinks Rice milk..I can handle making this! :) Thanks.

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Stephanie August 25, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Lana, the smart balance light should be dairy free. I am vegan, so I don’t eat animal products at all. I’ve purchased the smart balance light before, and it has the “vegan” label on it. The regular smart balance and the heart healthy smart balance are not dairy free, though. Great idea about making rice milk! I’m trying it right now

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Michelle October 5, 2009 at 4:53 pm

I am so excited to try this. I hope it works because Rice Dream costs so much!!!

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Miriam October 8, 2009 at 4:27 pm

I need to make some Rice Milk for some dairy-free meals I’ll be making, and I’m wondering if I can use a regular blender? Also, does it matter if you use white or brown rice, or does it need to be brown? I’m mostly just curious about the 2nd question :) Also, since I would be using it solely in cooking/baking, do I need to add the sweetener?

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom October 8, 2009 at 5:58 pm

@Miriam,

Does not have to be brown rice. When I make milk to drink I add a “smidge” of agave syrup. That’s not necessary for cooking/baking!

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom October 8, 2009 at 5:59 pm

@Miriam,

White rice will work fine. No sweetener needed for cooking/baking. I usually add a smidge of agave syrup when making milk to drink.

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Susan November 3, 2009 at 1:07 am

What model did you wind up purchasing?

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Lynnel August 5, 2011 at 7:44 am

Hi-I’ve been looking for a recipe like this…but I reply because if you are loving your VitaMix, I’m suggesting that you investigate the Thermomix. My reasoning: I have to eat gluten free, dairy free (so far, butter seems alright), and am still in the process of investigating all of my intolerances. So far-happily without headaches, gut-wrenching pain, clearing skin, fewer allergic rashes, fewer asthma type moments, etc…and I’ve lost nearly 20 pounds-while feeling nutrified and strong. The lower blood sugar headaches and shakes are also a thing of the past.
I’m Canadian, living in Chile, so I’ve met lots of friends from around the world, several of whom knew about this machine. It’s a “Bimby” in Australia, popular in the UK, and in Spain as well. I bought one here through the ONE distributor:) It was terribly expensive; however I can now make my own GF flours, 2L of smoothie at a a time, 2L of soup at a time, steam veggies, steam fish, bread dough, steamed rice, sauces like crazy, etc… It’s a food processor that also cooks, all in the same vessel. The stainless vessel locks onto the nicely compact base, and has an electric frying pan type connection, so I can have a banana cake under way in less than 5 mins, from oat flakes to the oven. For soups, I start it, heat some olive oil, peel some garlic cloves, quarter an onion (or peel shallots:), let that stir itself and saute for about four minutes, add whatever veggies I feel like, it chops them, when that’s done, I can add lentils or rice, and water (stock), and it’s happily stirring slowly for however long I set its timer.
I include so much info to try give a sense of how easy it is, how much I love it, and…I use it twice a day, minimally. My sensitivity to milk isn’t super-high, so I can still do things for the rest of the family in it, like cream soups, white sauces, cheese sauces, etc…but I do keep it GF.
If you could find one in your zone, you might be able to work the dollars on it and see if it would work for your family.
Promise: I’m not a seller, so I can’t help you with that…I just seem to have an extremely sensitive system and have been enjoying the possibilities in the kitchen after feeling restricted by my intolerances…
I’m looking forward to trying the rice milk and see how it compares with the President’s Choice Organic Rice Milk that I discovered in Canada this summer…Happy cooking to you!

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Melanie August 11, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Thanks for the recipe! As for calcium, keep in mind there are other sources of calcium available other than cow milk or milks fortified with it. For those looking for calcium, look up what foods have it, and also look up what bioavailability is and which foods have a higher bioavailability of calcium. That should help.

I just made the rice milk, and am waiting for my children to try it out. Also made a delicious smoothie with celery, tomato, cucumber, and lemon juice. My daughter LOVES it! I don’t think it’s too bad, either, but needs some getting used to. Gotta love the vitamix, though!

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Linda December 8, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Erin, we recently returned from Mexico and fell in love with their “rice water” – called a Horchata – I found an instant version with the Mexican ethnic foods at our Food Lion – you can even make it creamier by adding sweetened condensed milk. You can make it frothy just like the consistency of a pina colada. Enjoy…

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Barbara January 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm

My son was diagnosed with EE 13 years ago when it was still fairly unknown. I experienced the same as you, knowing my child had allergies, but having difficulty convincing the doctors of that fact. I wish I had known this recipe all those years ago, life would have been easier. Thank you for sharing it now!

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katie January 22, 2012 at 10:20 pm

does the rice completely liquefy??? or do u strain it out?

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Chris Knight August 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Can you use white rice as a substitute for the brown rice? I really want to make some cookies!

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Carol Valentine March 6, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I have not had success making rice milk in my soymilk maker, so I look forward to trying your recipe in my blender, which is not a Vitamix, but is a high quality model. Hopefully it will do OK. The main reason I have switched from packaged non-dairy milks to make-your-own is the PACKAGING! Shelf-stable packaging is very difficult to recycle (does not yield a very high percentage of usable material) if you can even find a facility, and takes a lot of energy to make. It contains plastic, which I am trying to avoid purchasing. I also use raw goat milk when I can get it from my neighbors, which comes in canning jars that I bring back to get refilled. It’s my favorite milk, but expensive, and too rich to use for all purposes. Thanks for the recipe, and thanks to all of us who are making our own good stuff instead of adding throw-away packaging to the rubbish heap!

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booster April 23, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I do agree with all of the ideas you’ve introduced on your post. They’re very convincing and
will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts
are too brief for newbies. May you please prolong them
a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

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Natalie Cornish April 22, 2014 at 10:03 am

Thank you so much for this post! I also would like to save oodles of money by making my own rice milk for me and my milk-allergic nursling. My question: would you please add a picture to the post to make it more Pinterest-friendly? There are a few generic pictures available from your site, but a lovely product picture would be so nice.

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