I’m currently obsessed with homemade raw almond milk. It’s one of those things that is so worth taking the extra fifteen minutes to make from scratch rather than buying in the store. It’s infinitely more fresh and flavorful and doesn’t contain all the extra stuff that’s added to the commercial brands to stabilize them and increase viscosity.
Almond milk is actually lower in protein and calcium than cow’s milk but naturally full of vitamins and antioxidants, lower in saturated fat and calories, and of course lactose-free. I suppose that’s all interesting and nice (respectively). But the big thing is that tastes AMAZING. I want it in everything–steamed with espresso, stirred into black tea and honey, cooked with steel-cut oats, blended into smoothies with banana and berries. Like I said: obsessed.
As usual, the quality of the ingredients you begin with will affect the taste. I like to use organic almonds and filtered water.
1 cup raw organic almonds
filtered water to soak almonds
3 cups filtered water
Begin by covering 1 cup of almonds with filtered water by 1 to 2 inches and soak overnight. (I’ve read that soaking the almonds not only helps to soften them, but it also removes the phytic acid which is an enzyme inhibitor, to aid in digestion and nutrient absorption.) Strain almonds, discard soaking water, and place almonds in a blender along with 3 cups filtered water. At this point if you’d like to add a bit of sweetener, you can try some honey, agave, maple syrup or 2-3 dates. (I really love it without any of these though. That way I can sweeten it according to how I’m using it if I do so at all.) Blend for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture becomes frothy on top. If you’d like, try adding 1/2 tsp of vanilla or cinnamon and blend for 30 more seconds. Next, pour the liquid a little at a time through 3 to 4 layers of cheesecloth and into a large liquid measure (you can use a rubber band to help hold it in place.) Let it strain for a bit, then press the excess almond meal with the back of a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Gather the sides of the cheesecloth and squeeze the excess liquid through. Remove almond meal (put it aside but don’t discard it as you can dry it out and use it in baking!) You’ll need to repeat the pour-press-and-squeeze once or twice more. Pour the almond milk into a mason jar or other glass container. Fresh raw almond milk should keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. It will separate so just give it a shake or a stir before using it.
In a pinch (like this morning when I discovered I was out of cheesecloth) you can just use a fine mesh strainer and a lot of pressing action. Just strain all of the milk a second time when you’re through. It may be a little bit grainier but the sediment from the almond skin should settle to the bottom.
Now, this bit I haven’t done yet but am about to try this week. Rather than discarding half of what you’ve already paid for, you can spread the almond meal into a thin layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a 300 degree oven for 30-60 minutes, giving it a stir now and then so it dries evenly. Once it has cooled, blend it in a food processor until it becomes a thin flour and use it in baking. Recipes to come!