You knew this was coming, right? Can’t have “cereal” without “milk”!
Around the same time I started planning to make homemade granola, I re-considered almond milk. I’ve always been lactose-intolerant and grew up drinking the Lactaid brand of milk, but once I eliminated dairy and started hearing about the dangers of unfermented soy, I started buying almond milk from Trader Joe’s. BUT! My “In Defense of Food” food heritage (an awesome book, by the way) made me a little queasy about all the ingredients and additives, like tricalcium phosphate and dipotassium phosphate (whaaa?). This blog post was really helpful and confirmed that I wasn’t just being paranoid but then I was inspired to just make it from scratch (having heard it’s really easy).
I did a lot (lot!) of Google-ing and found that almost every blogger followed the same “recipe” more or less, and the one piece of “equipment” you needed was either cheesecloths (which I didn’t have) or a nut bag, like this one. Since it was pretty cheap (<$10) and I was pretty sure I would make batches and batches of this stuff, I just sucked it up and bought the bag.
Amazon also got me with their “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…” section and I realized my only glass pitcher was 1) no more because of a big crack and 2) wasn’t airtight anyway. Bought this mostly-highly rated glass pitcher with lid and I like it! Most of the complaints seemed to be around putting really hot liquid in the pitcher which would cause it to crack/shatter… so don’t do that, kthx.
I more-or-less followed these steps from Tasty Kitchen (with lots of pictures), but improvised here and there because I don’t have a big fancy blender (Vitamix, come to me!) and had to process in batches.
- Soak almonds in water (fully covered) for at least 24 hours (Tasty Kitchen says 6, but other blogs said overnight or 2 nights ideally)
- Drain almonds of soaking water, then blend with 4 cups filtered water (I used my handy Magic Bullet but did 4 batches of 1 cup water w/ 1/4 of the almonds)
- (Optional) In two of the four batches, add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 Tbs honey after your initial blend. It was more work, but I actually blended each of the four batches and put it in a bowl, then re-blended between batches to make sure the honey and vanilla were dispersed evenly. And as a reminder–if you have a blender, you don’t need to worry about this. Just add the vanilla & honey after the milk is foamy from being blended.
- Once you’re all blended and somewhat seasoned, put your nut bag into your pitcher (or jar, or whatever) that you’re going to store the milk in. Slowly, carefully pour the almond milk from the blender into the nut bag, pressing against the leftover almond bits (the almond meal) to make sure you extract all the liquid, using either a spoon or your hands.
- Store in the fridge, should be good for 3-5 days. My first batch only lasted 3 days because I drank it all… lol.
Once you’re done with your milk, take all of the leftover almond meal and you can make almond flour! Almond flour is a popular alternative for paleo and gluten-free bakers, and while I’ve never worked with it, I’m dehydrating my two batches of almond meal in the oven as we speak and pinning lots of recipes like this one for vegan chocolate-chip cookies.
My dehydrating almond meal…
Anyway! Here’s how to dehydrate your almond meal (if you don’t have a dehydrator) using this recipe: Spread out the leftover almond clumps on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (I used a silpat) and pop into the oven at its LOWEST temperature (mine is 170 degrees) and leave for 3 hours–stirring occasionally. Once completely dry, give it a whirl in the food processor to get the texture of flour. As I mentioned, I’m still in process but will let you know how it goes!