Everyone here at Chez SGCC is lactose intolerant in varying degrees. Luckily for me, I’m the least affected. That means I still get to have ice cream from time to time. And, a world without ice cream is a very sad place. However, except for yogurt, we try to limit our dairy consumption around here as much as we can. One product that we regularly use as a substitute for cow’s milk in cereal, coffee, etc., is almond milk. It doesn’t contain any lactose or animal products. It’s also a cholesterol free and low glycemic food. And, it’s low in calories and high in nutrients. Plus, it tastes great!
For years, I’ve bought our almond milk from the supermarket. It was readily available and not terribly expensive. I had no complaints. But one day I took a minute to read the label, and was surprised to find that there was a lot more in that carton than just almond milk – some of which I couldn’t even pronounce. Now, I can’t tell you that any of that stuff is necessarily bad, because I don’t even know what most of it is. But, I can tell you one thing. If I can’t pronounce it, I sure don’t wanna eat or drink it!
So I did a little research, and learned that making homemade almond milk is really quite easy. You only need two ingredients - three if you want to get fancy - and one of them is water. How cool is that? And, there are no unpronounceable words to worry about either.
The recipe I used to make my almond milk came from the Food52 web site, although it’s not so much a recipe as it is a method that can be used with any kind of nuts. First, you soak the nuts – in this case, almonds. Then, you whizz the nuts in a blender with fresh water and any added flavorings. Strain the whole mixture through a few layers of cheesecloth. And, that’s it! You’re done!
I flavored this almond milk simply, with just a lovely, fragrant, Tahitian vanilla bean. It didn’t need anything more. It was silky, smooth and dreamy. I’ve since made a few other batches, experimenting with different flavors. One that I really love is a warm and earthy chai-spiced version with a touch of maple syrup for sweetness. But you can add whatever your little heart desires. So, go ahead. Color outside the lines! Make your own almond milk. After all, what have you got to lose – except some fat, calories and a bunch of things that you can’t pronounce anyway?
Homemade Vanilla Almond Milk
adapted from Food52
- 1 cup raw almonds
- Filtered water (2 cups for soaking and 3 1/2 cups for blending)
- 1 whole vanilla bean, split and thinly sliced crosswise (or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
- Soak the almonds in 2 cups of cold filtered water for 12 to 24 hours.
- Drain the almonds and discard the soaking liquid. Put almonds and vanilla bean into a blender with 1 ½ cups of fresh filtered water and blend on high speed for 3 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the blender container and add up to 2 cups more of the water, depending on how thick you want the almond milk to be. Less water will produce a thicker milk, while more will yield a thinner consistency. Start with 1 cup and go from there. I found that 1 2/3 cups gave me the consistency of full-bodied whole milk. After adding the additional water, blend at high speed for another minute. Let the milk sit in the blender for 1 hour to allow the vanilla to infuse the milk.
- Meanwhile, line a mesh strainer with a several layers of fine cheesecloth and set it over a measuring cup or bowl with at least a 4-cup capacity.
- When the almond milk has finished infusing, blend for another 10-20 seconds.
- Pour the almond milk into the cheesecloth lined strainer and let the milk drain into the bowl. You may have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your strainer. After all the liquid has drained, about 15-20 minutes, carefully lift up the sides of the cheesecloth (with the pulp inside) and gently twist and squeeze out any remaining milk. Be careful not to squeeze out any pulp. If you do, you can skim it off with small strainer or mesh skimmer. Discard the cheesecloth and pulp.
- The almond milk can be stored in a tightly lidded pitcher or jar in the fridge for up to 4 days. If it separates, give the jar a good shake before using.
Makes approximately 3 1/2 cups.
For a warm and cozy (and tasty) alternative, try Chai-Spiced Almond Milk. Just follow the recipe as written above. In step 2, add the following additional ingredients to the blender along with the almonds, vanilla and water:
- 1-2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup or agave nectar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch ground cloves
- Dash ground white pepper
After blending, taste milk and adjust flavorings as needed.