Look at that creamy, frothy glass of milk. Would you guess it’s almond milk? And that it’s homemade? (Since it’s on my blog, I’m hoping you would guess it’s homemade.)
I’ve been making my own almond milk for a couple of months now, and love how I can control the flavour of it. If I’m making a batch to use in smoothies or dessert dishes I make it subtly sweet with a gentle hint of cinnamon. If I’m planning to add it to something like soup, I just make it straight up.
By making my own, I also don’t need to worry about the health concerns associated with some commercial almond milk additives, like carrageenan. I can also control the amount I make. Am I the only one who needs a cup or two for a recipe and then forgets about the rest of the box until it’s past time to toss it?
It was only a few years ago that I first used almond milk in my cooking, to accommodate a friend’s dairy sensitivity. I found the flavour of some of the different commercial brands I tried to be too dominant and sometimes off-putting. After ruining a batch of my curried cream of broccoli soup, my use of almond milk tailed off.
Recently I discovered that a reward card I’d been using for many years had quietly accumulated a large volume of points. I used those points to treat myself to a piece of kitchen equipment I’d been coveting for years: a professional quality blender. With it, I can whip up batches of almond milk in no time.
While I don’t drink it straight from the glass, it certainly tastes good enough to do so. My family has been enjoying homemade almond milk in a variety of ways. More about those later, but first, on to my recipe.
You’ll see that I soak the almonds first. If you’re wondering why, well it’s because several trusted sources, like this one, have told me it’s good for me. I’ve also been learning that not all whole almonds are equal. Although the brand I’ve been buying lists only almonds in the ingredients, I was dismayed to learn they’re pasteurized with a toxic gas. Nice. I’m switching over to organic. It seems it takes a lot of research to truly eat well, but I’d say it’s worth the investment of time and effort to protect your health.
The first time I made almond milk, I filtered it through a fine mesh sieve. There wasn’t much pulp left behind, but the milk was fine. I’ve since invested in a nut milk bag. It’s amazing how much pulp remains when using the bag, and it can be used in other recipes so you don’t need to waste a thing. If you like your almond milk on the thicker side, then by all means just use a sieve.
There are many ways to sweeten almond milk. I like to use plump and soft Medjool dates, the kind that you can eat out of your hand like candy. If your dates are on the dry side, soak them for a while first. And if you’d like a tip based on sorry experience, make sure you remove the pits before putting them in the blender.
The right level of flavour and sweetness is in the taste buds of the beholder. I’ve experimented with adding vanilla extract, upping the cinnamon and using some maple syrup, but the recipe below is just right for me. Use it as a starting point to make your own almond milk that’s just right for you!
Homemade Almond Milk
This recipe is intended for sweet applications, like smoothies and desserts. If you’re making almond milk for savoury dishes, don’t add the dates and cinnamon. Unless you want to, because you’re in charge of your almond milk, not me! Note, the almond milk will separate as it sits in the fridge. Just give the jar a good shake before using.
- 1 cup whole almonds, skins on
- filtered water to cover the almonds
- 4 cups filtered water
- 2 large Medjool dates, pits removed
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Rinse the whole almonds, then place in a bowl and cover with water. Let them soak for six to eight hours, and if you get a chance, drain and rinse them part way through. Drain and rinse them again when you’re ready to use them.
If your dates are dry, you can soak them for up to 30 minutes in warm water to plump them up. The ones I buy are quite large and luscious, and about the size of a prune plum (a good point of reference if you happen to be familiar with prune plums).
Place the almonds, four cups of filtered water, dates (pitted! don’t forget to pit them!) and cinnamon in the blender. Put the lid on, making sure the plug is in the centre (do you think there’s a story in this reminder?) and turn it on at lowest speed. You’ll need to operate your blender according to its instructions, but for mine I turn it up to full speed and let it do its magic for about a minute.
Place the nut milk bag in a large bowl (or place a fine-mesh sieve over it) and pour in the almond milk. Squeeze the bag until you’ve extracted as much milk as possible. There will be about one cup of fairly dry almond pulp left behind.
Decant the milk into a covered container. Since homemade almond milk is all about good health, why not use a glass mason jar instead of plastic? I checked numerous recipes, and they recommend that you keep the almond milk in the fridge anywhere up to three days to one week. To be on the safe side, I try to use mine up within five days. That’s generally not a problem!