Coconut milk is the oldest form of plant-based milk from India and Southeast Asia. Soy milk was discovered in 1365 in China. Today, many forms of plant-based milk are available including almond, rice, and oat. So how are they made?
Growing and harvesting conditions can greatly affect the final product. Climate, soil, other vegetation and storage of harvested products are crucial to the final product.
Two methods are used, a wet or dry processing method. The wet process involves soaking the product up to 12 hours to soften the product. Then they are rinsed, drained, and ground into a puree or paste. Enzymes may be added to improve grinding and texture. The liquid is heated and homogenized to inactivate enzymes and reduce separation. Dry processing involves milling first, then the protein is isolated or concentrated to make a beverage.
Finally, water, flavors, vitamins, minerals, and stabilizers or thickeners are added. The entire product is heated for safety.
Many of these beverages are being used in blends such as with coffee to meet market trends.
Source: Food Technology, December 2018