In hindsight, pistachio milk seemed inevitable. Almond and cashew milk are now supermarket mainstays, and you can buy peanut and walnut milk online from specialty grocers. Plus, past trends like celery juice, matcha and wheatgrass are proof green liquids have a certain star power. If you’re curious about the latest buzzy alternative milk, here’s what you need to know:
Technically, pistachio milk is not actual milk. However, similar to other nut milks, it’s made by blending pistachios with water. Its opaque, milky color comes from straining the remaining mixture. Much like other nut and grain milks, store-bought pistachio milk contains additives and thickening gums — without them, it would spoil quickly and would have the consistency of water, not milk. Currently, the only pistachio milk on the market is made by Tache. (There are others marketed as pistachio milk, but they contain other nuts as well.) To preserve the milk, Tache adds dipotassium phosphate, a buffering agent that helps maintain the pH balance of the milk. To thicken it, they use gum acacia (or gum arabic) and gellan gum, which are considered safe by the USDA but cause bloating and GI distress for some. Tache also adds salt and natural flavors, while the sweetened version contains cane sugar.
In terms of the healthiest nuts out there, “pistachios rank high,” says Elle Penner, RD. “They’re among the lowest in fat and calories and tend to be higher in protein and potassium, when compared with other nut varieties.” A one-ounce serving (about 49 pistachios) has 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and as much potassium as half of a large banana (roughly 8% of your daily needs). One ounce also provides 25% of your daily vitamin B6 needs and roughly 10% of your daily fiber needs.
In addition, you’ll get 6 grams of protein, 6.6 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids and 4 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids, both of which support healthy cholesterol levels and might reduce your risk of heart disease.
However, pistachio milk doesn’t have quite as many nutrients. Because the pistachio solids are strained out before bottling, it contains less than half the fiber of whole pistachios and just 2 grams of protein per serving. A one cup (120ml) serving provides 4% of your daily potassium needs and 3.5 grams of unsaturated fats. The unsweetened version contains less than a gram of naturally occurring sugar, while the sweetened version contains 7 grams of sugar.
- It’s thick enough for coffee drinks. The Tache brand compares its pistachio milk to Oatly and Califia Almond barista blends, both of which stand up well to being foamed for lattes. (If you use regular almond milk for your coffee, you likely know it doesn’t really foam well when steamed, and you need to add a lot of it because it’s so thin.)
- Its flavor is mild. Store-bought pistachio milk is similar to almond milk in that it really doesn’t taste much like the nut it comes from. Rather, it’s neutral, creamy, slightly sweet and ever so slightly nutty. If you’re using it in place of regular milk, that bland flavor is perfect. At-home versions, however, can be made with a higher ratio of pistachios to water for a richer, pistachio flavor.
- It’s versatile. Pistachio milk can be used to add flavor and more nutrients to a variety of recipes including in oatmeal, smoothies, cereal or in chai drinks.
- Pistachios are pricey. Even in bulk, raw pistachios run about $17.99 a pound.
- Homemade versions are time-consuming. To make your own pistachio milk, it requires soaking pistachios in water for at least 10 hours or overnight. You also need a cheesecloth, fine-mesh strainer or nut-milk bag to remove the pulp.
- It’s not as nutritious as eating the nuts on their own. As mentioned above, the straining process takes away some of the nuts’ important nutrients.
If you love almond and oat milk and want to try something different, pistachio milk could be for you. It’s a great way to add variety to your diet, especially if you want that foamy consistency for lattes. Still, it bears reminding that pistachios are more expensive than other nuts, and you’ll get the most nutrient bang for your buck eating them whole.
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