I have been making almond milk all summer as a base for my smoothies. It is creamy but not heavy, and has less sugar (only the natural sugars contained in almonds) than coconut water, which is my alternative smoothie base. Plus, it has a silky decadence like full fat milk.It only takes a little forethought, and a little bit of time and clean-up.
Why make almond milk at home if you can buy it in the store?
There are lots of people blogging about making almond milk at home. I do it because there are stabilizing ingredients in the milk from the store, which lend a weird texture to the almond milk, almost like a syrupy viscosity. Home-made almond milk is two ingredients: almonds and water, with the addition of honey or dates or other sweeteners only if desired. It tastes much richer than almond milk from the store. It’s like home-made almond milk is the whole milk of almond milk, whereas store bought is the skim variety. (I am not sure if there are actually more calories or fat in homemade almond milk or not).
1 1/2 cups raw almonds
4 cups filtered water
Blender or vitamix
nut milk bag* (see note at bottom for where to buy it and why I don’t use cheesecloth)
Soak almonds in water for about 8 hours or overnight (a little longer won’t hurt them. Over 24 hours might start to make them rancid though. Some recipes call for only six hours).
After soaking, pour almonds and the water they’ve soaked in into a blender or a vitamix if you have one. A blender works just fine though. If using a vitamin, be careful not to blend it on too high of a speed. In fact, it works to keep the setting on low and adjust the number speed. If the almond solids are too fine, they get through in the straining process and the milk will be mealy. If using a regular blender, this should not be a concern.
Blend for a little less than a minute (there is no exact length of time, in my experience ). Then, place your nut milk bag over a pitcher or cylindrical container and strain out the liquid.
Squeeze well to get all the liquid out, and store in a covered container in the fridge. Consume within a couple of days, after all it is raw milk, without stabilizers. I have kept it for up to five days. I am going to experiment with freezing it and will write back on that.
Now…what about all those solids left in the nut-milk-bag???
Do not throw them away! What a waste that would be, for there are surely many nutrients, proteins, and sources of energy found there, not to mention good taste.There are two ways to save them, and endless ways to re-use them.
Quick Saving: Simply pour the contents of the nut milk bag into a container, and freeze for later use in baking (almond pastry crusts, quick-breads, muffins).
A little more involved: Lay the solids out on a sheet tray and dry them at 200 degrees in the oven for forty five minutes or so, until moisture is gone. They will be in little clumps. Place the dry solids in a blender or vitamix and grind again to achieve a fine meal consistency, like flour. Store in an airtight container. Thanks to cleangreensimple for the advice on drying and re-blending.
The difference between the two flours? One is wet and will create a denser quality to a baked good. The other is dry, light, fine and airy and will function like store bought almond meal. I’ve worked with both, making muffins and tart crusts, and I like the both of them. The wet meal makes for a denser muffin, that’s all.
Enjoy your almond milk in smoothies, with cereal, in coffee or tea and even on its own. I also enjoy it heated, with spices, honey and black tea, as an almond chai!
* You can order nut milk bags online at One Lucky Duck for $7.95, or if you happen to be in New York, you can buy it at the One Lucky Duck location or at the Natural Gourmet cooking school. They are sturdy and don’t rip, as other brands I’ve tried. I don’t like using cheese cloth because it lets chunks into the milk.