Thursday, April 18, 2013

Homemade Almond Milk

Fresh raw almond milk is delicious, healthy, unprocessed and economical. There is no un-recyclable plastic-lined tetra-pak boxes or cartons to put in landfills and drink BPA out of, and this tastes much, much better than store bought.

To make a half gallon (or 2 liters) of delicious fresh almond milk, you will need:

About a pound (or roughly half a kilo) of fresh raw almonds out of the shell

A blender or food processor

A large bowl to strain into

A mesh bag or cheesecloth for straining

A half gallon or 2 liter refrigerator jug to keep it in

A few pinches of salt (optional)

Sweetener of your choice, to taste (optional) I like to add a tsp of pure vanilla extract to mine with 3 pinches of salt.

I like to soak my almonds in distilled water with a 1/2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice over night to reduce phytic acid and mold, and it makes the almonds a bit softer and easier to blend up

See how this clings to the glass like the freshest dairy milk? Commercial preparations use thickeners such as guar gum to achieve something similar but their results are inferior. It's hard not to drink it all up the first day, but it's even better the second. Keeps about a week in the refrigerator, but don't leave it out on the counter unless you want to experiment with raw almond yogurt or kefir.

You will be using about 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of raw almonds out of the shell. Soak overnight in enough water to cover with a little water more, to provide room for swelling. Another easier way to measure if you want to make 2 quarts or 2 liters at a time, is that 1 lb (or roughly a half kilo) of raw almonds out of the shell, makes a half gallon or 2 quarts or roughly 2 liters of creamy, rich almond milk when sufficient water is added after squeezing, to equal that volume. You can of course halve the water to make an almond cream suitable as coffee creamer, nog base, cream pies, or other uses where milk may be too thin.

A quick whir in a powerful blender results in a thick, frothy almond puree, ready to be squeezed in a mesh bag or jelly bag, cheesecloth, or something similar. Simply place your cheesecloth or mesh strainer bag over the bowl, pour and scoop your puree into it, draw it closed, and start squeezing until the almond meal is as dry as you can get it.  Don't add any more water at this point.

The harder you squeeze, the more creamy and nutritious your milk will be. Let is sit covered in the refrigerator pitcher for 24 hours. you will notice a creamy layer floats on top, but with a few gentle shaking sessions and a day or so in the refrigerator, it will blend nicely and taste superbly creamy. Once that has happened, add sweetener if you choose, and salt a pinch at a time, shaking in-between and tasting, until the flavor goes from a little "flat" with no salt, to "better than any milk I ever tasted" (perfect). If you're not sure, hold back on another pinch of salt because one pinch too many ruins it. If you accidentally do add that one extra pinch past perfect taste, add more sweetener and it will no longer taste salty. Some add vanilla, others add almond extract or other flavors. You can even add Dutched Cocoa for a creamy sensation.

I love to use my almond milk in smoothies! And try making yogurt with it too!

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