Creamy Home-made Almond Milk
Friday, 2 July 2010
I’ve had a number of responses to my recent posts on raw milk. It’s exciting that so many people are interested in trying it. But I also know that it is difficult to come by in many states. And sometimes you need a substitute when baking, because even raw milk isn’t raw anymore if you cook with it. I’m sure most of you use milk substitutes made from rice, soy, or almonds. You can conveniently find them at most grocery stores, but you may notice that most of the brands are loaded with lots of other stuff – preservatives, synthetic vitamins, sweeteners – that you don’t want. Also, it is wise to avoid soy milk because soy products are not really good for you unless they are prepared with traditional fermentation. Highly processed soy “substitutes” contain nutrient-blocking phytic acid and plant estrogens that mimic and interfere with hormones.
Rice milk will work in recipes but it is very watery, tasteless and pretty much consists of simple carbohydrates. Almond milk has many more nutrients, such as protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, zinc, selenium, among others. But again, if you buy it at the store, it will come with a lot of other additives and it is usually made from a watered-down almond base. Did you know how easy it is to make your own at home? All you need is a blender and either a cheesecloth or a nut milk bag and some almonds. If you prefer sweetness, you can naturally sweeten it by adding a fresh Medjool date or a small amount of pure maple syrup. But even when unsweetened, it is very tasty and delicious.
I make homemade almond milk almost every week, and I use it in pancakes, crepes or other baking recipes. It’s also great to use in smoothies or on cereal. Here’s how I make it:
For fresh almond milk in the morning, soak 1 cup of raw (preferably unpasteurized) almonds in filtered water overnight. This removes the nutrient-blocking acids and activates helpful enzymes, making it easier to digest. In the morning, drain the water and rinse. Add 1 cup filtered water, an optional Medjool date (be sure to remove the pit first!), and blend until very smooth. Add 3 more cups of water, a spoonful of maple syrup if you prefer, and blend for a few more seconds, until mixed.
Now comes the slightly messy part. Either cut a large piece of cheesecloth (at least 18 inches square) or place a nut milk bag over a large bowl or wide pitcher. While holding the bag or cheesecloth in place (you may need help with this), pour the blender mixture into the bowl, straining it through the cheesecloth or nut milk bag. Squeeze the pulp in the cloth to remove all of the moisture. There will be a good amount of pulp; you can save this for baking if you prefer. Add it to a muffin recipe for extra fiber!
Finally pour the fresh almond milk into a glass container to serve and store for up to 5-7 days in the fridge. You can try this with other nuts also – cashews are very tasty and have a minimal amount of pulp; you can even skip the cheesecloth and strain it through a metal strainer. Note: I hope to add some more pictures of the process to this post after I make almond milk this weekend, so check back for updates!