There is nothing like the taste of fresh, almond milk when it’s still frothy and foamy. I can picture rivers of almond milk flowing in a mythical world. This is my favorite beverage. It tastes refreshing and light, yet milky. I remember in my childhood (1980s Poland) when my parents would bring back fresh milk–and I mean fresh from the cow–not the supermarket, not farm stand, but a real cow. It would be in the classic glass bottle, still warm from the body temperature of the cow. The most distinct quality it had was the frothiness. Over the years I have developed an aversion to cow’s milk, perhaps it has something to do with that musty odour I remember or the warmth from the body temperature, but now I prefer nut milks. Yet the frothiness still brings me back to childhood and nut milks don’t have the ickiness factor. They’re clean, raw, smell divine and are from plant sources. Mmmmm….
A nut milk bag. That’s what you use to strain the liquid of almond milk. I remember going to the market to buy it, feeling strangely perverse. The label stated clearly, NUT MILK BAG. I grabbed it and hit it under a bag of tortilla chips then prowled around the market sneaking to the register. Did you ever do anything so strange? When I brought it home I was relieved to see it was a more sophisticated version of a cheese cloth. I took my soaked almonds, blended them and poured the mixture in the bag. The process felt so organic and fun. After squeezing the almond milk from the bag, which was somewhat reminiscent of milking a cow (yes I have milked cows), there was almond pulp left over. By the way, that pulp when dried or toasted is great for almond crusted tuna or grey sole.
Be prepared to get messy. I had almond milk covering my hands and streaming down to the elbows. The pulp seems to fly everywhere too. After the first time making this I even found bits of almond milk in my hair and on my dogs. So finally after about 15 minutes, I stood there staring at a full glass container of the frothy milk. It was well earned, embarrassment included.
On a hot summer day or in a smoothie, there is nothing I would rather drink. Since nut milks are not too creamy or heavy, they just taste awesome chilled in warm weather. I have flavored almond milks with lavender, cardamom, vanilla and cinnamon–and they were all particularly yummy. The benefits of almond milk are manifold, especially for those who have allergies to lactose or casein–or those who just think cow’s milk is icky. Apparently almonds are one of the healthiest nuts in the world (unless you’re allergic to nuts). They are a low glycemic food and low calorie as well.
Be sure to soak the almonds for at least 9 hours, but no more than 12. In my experience, if I soak them beyond 15 or 20 hours, once the almond milk is made it won’t last as long and will start to ferment. I don’t think you can make almond milk cheese, so consider this precaution. This is what the soaked almonds should look like when they are done soaking and are drained.
After they are drained use 1/2 cup of almonds with 2 cups of water or 1 cup of almonds with 4 cups of water, depending how large your blender is. Then blend the almonds until they are finely ground. When finished blending pour into a nut milk bag or cheese cloth to strain.
1 cup raw, preferably organic, unpasteurized almonds (certified gluten-free)
Filtered water to cover the almonds (when soaking)
4 cups cold, filtered water (for the milk)
A splash vanilla or almond extract, optional for flavoring (or add Matcha green tea powder, coffee, coconut or
lavender for flavored almond milk)
1. Place almonds in container and pour filtered water until all almonds are completely submerged. Cover and soak between 9 and 12 hours. The less you soak them the more almond flavor you will taste. The longer you soak them the less almond you will taste. I found the ideal soaking time for me to be 9 hours. It might vary depending on the brand of almonds. Strain soaking water.
2. Pour soaked almonds and filtered water into a high-speed blender with a tight fitting lid and process for 60 seconds on high. I use a Nutribullet, which works very well to break down the almonds. A Vitamix is also recommended.
3. Use a nut milk bag (inexpensive and sold at food markets) or cheese cloth to strain the almond milk from the blender into a large bowl. Squeeze the almond milk and discard the pulp. Sweeten and pour into liquid storage container and refrigerate.
* To save time and for optimal blending, when I sweeten with honey I pour a teaspoon of it into the blender with the whole almonds and water so that– the viscous honey blends smoothly. For optimal taste I use Sweet Leaf stevia and 1-2 tsp. of honey. This is usually for just over 1 liter.