Almond milk is a great alternative to dairy milk and a delicious beverage in its own right. Drink it straight up, pour it on cereal, add it to healthy smoothie recipes, or use it in just about any recipe that calls for milk, including cream sauces, puddings, salad dressings, and baked goods. While almond milk is easy to find in nearly every grocery store these days, the commercial products often contain way too many added sweeteners, salt, thickeners, stabilizers, and other iffy ingredients. Plus, it comes in packaging that isn’t always easy to recycle.
Homemade almond milk, on the other hand, is incredibly simple and affordable. Follow my recipe—and if you prefer cashew, hazelnut, or even coconut milk, you can substitute those nuts or seeds for almonds in the recipe.
What You’ll Need
1 cup whole raw, organic almonds
2 cups cold water
Blender or food processor
A nut milk bag or a piece of clean muslin
Put the almonds in a large glass jar, cover them with water, and let soak overnight on the counter. Drain off the soaking water. For extra-creamy, naturally sweeter milk, put the almonds back in the jar, rinsing them every 8 to 12 hours, for up to two more days. This “sprouting” process brings out the nuts’ natural sugars. When you’re ready to make the milk, rinse the almonds in clean water.
Put them in your blender or food processor and add the two cups of water. Pulse a few times to break up the almonds, then blend on high until very smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. This takes about two minutes in my blender, perhaps twice as long in my food processor.
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Prepare your nut milk bag per the manufacturer’s instructions and get a bowl to catch the milk, or line a colander with clean muslin and place that over a bowl. I usually go the latter route, so I boil my muslin in a saucepan full of water for five minutes first to sterilize it. Strain your blended almonds in your bag or lined colander, collecting the milk in the bowl below. Twist the top of the bag or cloth to squeeze out as much milk as possible. When you’ve gotten as much as you can out of your puree, pour the milk into a glass jar or bottle.
After chilling it, either use the milk immediately or store it for up to two days in a covered glass container in the refrigerator. Shake well before using.
Add Some Flavor
One of the great things about almond milk is that it tastes good to most people on its own (unlike soy milk, which I find pretty bean-y), but if you prefer sweetened or flavored milk, here are a few mix-and-match ideas.
Toss one pitted, chopped date into the blender with the almonds at the beginning of blending process to add natural sweetness, or toss in a quarter of a vanilla bean, snapped into short pieces, with the almonds at the beginning of the blending process. You can also add ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice blend before blending, or you can sweeten the finished milk with a little honey, a pinch of stevia powder, maple syrup, or the natural sweetener of your choice. You may choose to flavor the finished milk with ½ teaspoon of organic vanilla extract, or add instant coffee or very strong brewed coffee to the finished milk, or mix the finished milk with your favorite chocolate milk mix.
Let Nothing Go To Waste
The leftover almond puree, essentially a moist almond meal, is a wonderful high-fiber food that can be added to this Awesome Almond Smoothie, hot cereal, pancake batter, muffin batter, or other baked goods. When you use it, just cut back a bit on the liquid ingredients called for. If you aren’t using it right away, refrigerate the puree for up to two days. You can also dry out the almond meal to use in baked goods. To do so, spread the puree out thin on a baking sheet, dry it in a very low oven until crisp—two to three hours—and break the chunks up into a meal in your blender or food processor.