Easy homemade almond milk for dairy-free meals
Got milk? If you or someone in your family is lactose intolerant, or you're concerned about the issue of animal welfare in the dairy industry or the carbon footprint of milk production, then you probably don't, and that question is more properly stated as, "Got dairy-free milk?"
For the vegans, the lactose intolerant, and those who avoid dairy for other reasons, making homemade almond milk is a great alternative for a simple and easy non-dairy beverage.
But how do you milk an almond? As the saying goes, very carefully.
I grew up drinking copious amounts of milk and eating lots of cheese, and thinking nothing of it, as it was what everybody did, and I never considered that dairy products might not be the best foods for me. However, once I ended up giving up dairy products, some 15 or so years ago, I found that a number of health issues that I had just grown used to dealing with were cleared up, including digestive problems and ongoing congestion and sinus issues. And while I can't say for certain that it was only due to avoiding dairy products that improved my health, every time since then that I have chosen to eat some form of dairy at a potluck or party, I have ended up with an upset stomach and stuffy head, so it's quite evident that dairy is not for me.
Not buying or using cow's milk hasn't been a great hardship for us, as there are plenty of options for alternative milks on the market, such as soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, and hemp milk, and the only drawback to those (other than dealing with all of the aseptic packages they're sold in) has been their cost, which tends to be much higher than cow's milk.
In order to save money and reduce the amount of packaging we bring into our home, we've been making our own homemade almond milk for years now, and it's not only tasty, but it's also extremely simple and quick to make.
Easy homemade almond milk recipe
The only equipment required to make homemade almond milk is a blender, a strainer, and a container to store it in. The ingredients are simple, as at its most basic, almond milk can be made with just water and raw almonds, although it can be sweetened or flavored as well.
1 cup soaked raw almonds: We like to use whole organic almonds that we purchase in bulk at our local food co-op, but any raw almonds will do. Simply place the almonds in a bowl or jar, cover with water, and let soak for about 12 hours. If you're pressed for time, the almonds can be soaked for as little as a few hours, and if you don't end up having time to make the almond milk after soaking them for 12 hours, just change the water covering the almonds, and replace in the refrigerator until ready to use.
When ready to make almond milk, pour out the soak water, rinse if desired, and put the almonds into a standard kitchen blender. I've seen recipes that call for removing the skins of the almonds after soaking them, but we've never taken the time to do so, and our almond milk turns out great.
Add 4 to 5 cups of water to the almonds and blend thoroughly. The amount of water used will determine how thick the almond milk will be, so for creamier milk, use less water (as little as 3 cups of water to 1 cup of almonds). We've found that 5 cups of water to 1 cup of almonds yields a consistency that we all enjoy, while also stretching our food dollars.
The length of time needed to blend the almonds into almond milk will depend on your blender, but generally, a couple of minutes of blending on high speed is long enough to turn them into a smooth and creamy consistency. If there are still larger pieces of almonds after a minute or two, continue blending until all of the almonds are blended.
Pour the homemade almond milk through a kitchen strainer (or though cheesecloth) into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator, where it will remain fresh for at least a couple of days. There are mesh bags made and marketed specifically for making nut milks with, but in my experience, they aren't necessary unless you want an extremely fine milk.
Don't toss the leftover almond pulp into the compost or trash, as it can be dried in the oven or food dehydrator and used in recipes that call for almond flour, used fresh in recipes to bulk them up, or can be seasoned to taste and eaten fresh as "almond cheese."
The resulting homemade almond milk is rather plain, so if you'd rather have a sweeter or more flavored milk, you can add honey, agave nectar, vanilla extract (or vanilla bean), or blended dates to the milk while blending, and some people like to add a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor. This same recipe can also be used to make cashew or sunflower seed milk, each of which has its own unique flavor and can yield a healthy non-dairy beverage.
To serve, stir or shake and use as you would milk. One of our favorite breakfasts is oats with raisins, coconut flakes, and chopped fruit, sweetened with honey and covered with our homemade almond milk.
If you make your own homemade almond milk with a different recipe or process, please share yours in the comments.