By Harold McGee
If nuts are ground while dry, their microscopic oil bodies merge and coalesce to make oil the continuous liquid phase of the paste. But if the raw nuts are first soaked in water, then grinding releases the oil bodies relatively intact into the continuous water phase. When the solid nut particles are strained off, this leaves behind a fluid similar to milk, with oil droplets, proteins, sugars, and salts dispersed in water. In medieval Europe, which learned about them from the Arabs, almond milks and creams were both luxurious ingredients and dairy substitutes for fasting days. Today, the most common seed milk is made from coconuts, but it can be made from any oil-rich nut and from soybeans.