When I was little, I used to think that milk should be on tap. I drank about as much milk as I did water– and who could blame me, I was a 90’s kid! Calcium was so trendy.
Nowadays, though I drink it less than I used to, I still drink milk. And as it turns out, Whole Foods’ 365 Organic brand is actually organic, humane, and totally affordable (source). We buy a whole gallon of it practically every week.
But I digress.
What about almond milk? It’s super popular among people who can’t or prefer not to consume dairy, and it’s often used as a nutritional and culinary substitute. But what is almond milk? What’s the story behind it?
A little chat about almonds…
As it turns out, almost everything that might concern you about regular milk is probably also a concern about almond milk (with the exception of lactose, of course). Almonds grown in the US have to undergo a pasteurization process, which is sometimes done with heat, and other times with chemicals. In other words, you cannot purchase truly raw almonds in the US, at least not since 2007. And more often than not, they’ve been treated with a chemical before they were harvested and/or after. (If inhumane farming is your concern, then think of the pollution and runoffs from almond farms.) Read more about US almonds here.
So, if you’ve thought about avoiding dairy for health reasons (as I have in the past), it turns out the almond milk might be an imperfect solution. Furthermore, store-bought almond milk is full of stabilizers and preservatives; unsurprising, as real almond milk will only last about 2 days chilled.
So what’s an almond-milk lover to do? LET’S MAKE OUR OWN ALMOND MILK!
And the result? Creamy, nourishing, fresh, sweet, delicious. What’s not to love?
How to make real almond milk
What you need:
- 1 cup almonds, preferably raw, organic, and imported (like these)
- 1-2 cups of water to blend with almonds, depending on taste
- Cheesecloth and mesh strainer, plus a large bowl
- Sturdy blender
- Glass jars for storage
In a bowl, soak the almonds overnight in tap water. This will soften them and also make them expand in size. They should soak at least overnight, and can soak for even longer. Do not skip this step!!
Drain the soaked almonds and place them in your blender. Add 1-2 cups of water. Less water means thicker milk; more water is thinner. 2 cups water yields about the same consistency as nonfat milk.
Pulse the almonds in the blender to break them down, and then run the blender for about 2 minutes, or until everything is broken down to a pulp.
Place the mesh strainer over a large bowl, and place the cheesecloth inside it. Carefully pour the almond milk into the cheesecloth, stopping when you can still wrap the cheesecloth around the moist mashed almonds.
As the milk drains through, wrap up the cheesecloth and give it a good squeeze to get all the milk out. Dump the remaining almond meal, or save it for some other use (such as adding to breads or oatmeal). Repeat until you’ve strained all the almond milk.
Pour the milk into glass jars and chill immediately. Drink the almond milk within 2 days— that is, if you can resist drinking it all at once.