When I first moved to Sweden I had a list of foodstuffs I needed to source out in order to ensure my happiness. Among other things, tofu, nutritional yeast, and soy milk were must haves. I’ve always been a soy milk girl when it comes to non-dairy milks, though I know that these days it isn’t particularly in vogue and people are slurping back almond milk like nobody’s business. I still treat myself to soy milk from time to time, but I don’t often buy it. My gripes with most store-bought nut milks are threefold. First, I find the protein : fat ratio is usually not what I’m looking for, second, there is usually a lot of added sugar, and third, most are loaded with all kinds of thickeners, stabilizers, and preservatives.
I’ve come around to almond milk lately, especially when it’s home made. Soak, blend, strain, and boom! You’ve milked those almonds like a boss! The best part is how much better the almond milk is than the store bought stuff. Unless you water it down, home made almond milk is much creamier – in a good way – and it has a natural sweetness to it that the commercial version can’t rival. No preservatives, no thickeners, no added junk. It’s amazing!
You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to make your own almond milk; just a blender, and something to strain the almond pulp with. If you have a nut-milk bag a) you’re my hero, and b) you already know what you’re doing so pay no attention to this. My straining set-up is pretty basic: I put a mesh strainer in a large glass bowl, and line the strainer with an old triangular bandage leftover from my days as a first aid instructor (I also use it for making ricotta and paneer). Cheese cloth probably isn’t fine enough to strain out the almond meal, so if you’re thinking of using that, I’d double it up.
Bonus! You get leftover almond pulp! There are all kinds of things you can do with this stuff – I biffed mine into the freezer to save for baking, but you can also dry it out into almond meal, toss it in smoothies, or fertilize your garden. I’ve got an almond meal muffin coming at you asap, so hang onto it!
Want it on the sweet side? Try tossing a couple of dates into the blender with the soaked almonds. A touch of honey or maple syrup would also work nicely. You could also add vanilla extract (hey, we’ve made that too!) to round out the flavour a bit. I often make savoury cottage cheese muffins with lefotver almond meal, so I left mine unsweetened and unflavoured. However you like it, I hope you give this a go. It’s easy, nutritious, and delicious. Home made almond milk for the win!
But listen, I don’t always buy my own almond milk, and making your own almond milk doesn’t make you a better person. The quality is definitely better when you make it yourself, but life happens and we don’t always have the foresight to soak almonds overnight or the time or motivation to deal with straining nut milk and dealing with the leftover pulp. Give yourself a break, and save tasks like making your own nut milk for a weekend affair if it doesn’t fit into your life during the week – it sure as heck doesn’t fit into mine. If you’re buying commercial nut milks, try to find one without added sugars and with as few ingredients as possible. I’ve found a brand that works for me in a pinch (and my local grocery store has also started carrying unsweetened cashew milk, hello!) and I’m sure you can too.
Homemade Almond Milk Recipe:
Homemade almond milk has a shorter shelf life than the store bought stuff. I’ve read that it will last anywhere from 3-7 days, but in my experience 7 is pushing it (I had to dump out a foul tasting almond milk matcha latte at the 7 day mark – boo!) so I’d err on the side of caution and use it up within 3-5 days. Blanched almonds are totally not necessary, I just happened to have some on hand. There is a lot of valuable nutrition in almond skins, so I would have preferred them with their skins on.
Makes 3-4 cups of almond milk
1 cup whole almonds
3-4 cups cold water
Place the almonds in a jar or glass bowl and cover with water. Place in the fridge to soak overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
When you’re ready to milk your almonds, drain and rinse well. Prepare your straining setup by setting a mesh strainer into a large jug or bowl, and then lining with a double layer of cheese cloth, or with a nut milk bag if you’re fancy like that. Place into the jar of a blender with 3-4 cups of cold water. How much water you use depends on how creamy you want your almond milk, and the capacity of your blender (you can always add more water to the milk after straining if your blender is small). I prefer 4 cups of water.
Blend on high speed for 2 minutes, then carefully pour the mixture into the prepared strainer. Wait a minute for the liquid to pass through, then get down to business squeezing as much liquid as you can from the almond meal. Pour the liquid into a clean glass jar and store in the fridge. Reserve the almond pulp for later. Now you’ve made your own almond milk. Yay!
Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats – this is a healthy fat when consumed in moderation, the same type as is found in olive oil. Almonds are also a good source of manganese, vitamin E (which has antioxidant properties) and magnesium. Note! When we strain the pulp out of the almond milk, we’re straining away a lot of valuable nutrition. The milk won’t contain any fiber, and not much in the way of protein. It still has a good amount of vitamin E and calcium, however. Whole nuts are the way to go if you’re looking for a source of nutrients, but almond milk is a good alternative to dairy for those who can’t tolerate it or those who just like to mix it up.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014