homemade almond milk
I've been making my own almond milk for a couple years now. We switched over to store-bought because it's cheaper. Of course, with homemade almond milk, you don't have all the additives that come with the store-bought version. Just two ingredients: almonds and water. Unless you want to make it a little creamier tasting, then a sweetener, some vanilla and salt.
Since John and I are on the Whole30, I am back to making our own almond milk so we can have a cleaner version of it. It's been forever since I've made it, and I forgot how easy and delicious it is. Much better than store-bought... it just has a sweeter, purer taste.
Then something magical happened. Usually I give it a stir before serving it, but when I took it out of my fridge, I decided to check out the separation that had happened. I stuck the spoon in and it came out with a thick, creamy layer of almond milk -- almond cream! Seriously. I poured some in my coffee with a sprinkle of cinnamon, gave it a whir in the blender to aerate it, and transferred it to my coffee cup, with that thick layer of foam sliding out last, the perfect garnish... heaven!
This is how I make almond milk. I don't like the separation that occurs or the grainy texture from only using a sieve or a cheesecloth, so I take an extra step and strain the still-soaked almond meal out of a cloth. The reason I don't want to only use a tea cloth is because I do like the almond milk to be a bit thicker, which is why I put it through the sieve first. Make sense? It may seem like an extra hassle, but it makes all the difference!
Here's what you need. I typically make a half-gallon at a time (double the recipe).
1 cup raw almonds
4 cups water
1/2 tsp vanilla (unless you will be using the almond milk to make a savory meal)
pinch of salt
1 tbs honey, maple syrup, or a couple of dates
The night before, cover the almonds with about two inches of water. The almonds will expand and if they are not completely covered, they will be susceptible to growing mold. Soak for 8-20 hours. If I'm soaking longer than 8 hours, I like to drain, rinse, and change the water about halfway through the soaking process.
Drain and rinse the almonds. Dump them in a blender with about 2 cups of water. If you are sweetening, add your sweetener of choice now.
Blend the almonds in the water until they are finely ground. I typically blend mine for about 3-5 minutes.
Slowly pour the milk through a fine mesh sieve. Don't worry about getting all the liquid out at this point; just stir it around and press gently with a spoon to release the milk. Avoid pushing it through with too much pressure, or you will get grains of almond meal in the milk.
When you've poured all the milk through, transfer the almond meal from the sieve into a large, undyed linen fabric, like a tea towel. Now squeeze with all your might! Twist and squeeze until all the liquid has been removed.
Pour your milk into a pitcher and add the remaining two cups of water, salt, and vanilla.
The milk tends to separate, so unless you want that cream on top for your coffee, when you serve the almond milk, give it a stir to blend. (Also note that if you are using the cream, the rest of the almond milk will get a little watery after a few times.)
How I wash my tea towels:
It's important to rinse out the tea towel immediately to avoid mold. Between juicing and almond-milking, after a few days, I have quiet a few gnarly tea towels in the laundry room. I want them all to be washed together since I use them for making food items, and I'd rather not wash them with our clothes. I toss them in the wash on a hot, small cycle with a small squeeze of Dawn dishsoap (about as much as I would use to wash a small sinkfull of dishes), checking to see if there are bubbles in the rinse cycle. If there are, I do an extra rinse... I don't want my almond milk to taste like soap! It would also be pretty easy to wash them by hand, so long you are able to rinse all the soap out.