Friday, February 24, 2012

Make your own Almond Milk

Did you know you can make your own almond milk and that it is incredibly easy? I know buying it in the store is convenient but if you have the time you should try to make some not only because it is cost effective but I think it tastes better and you can control what is in it, make your own flavors and adjust the thickness and sweetness to your liking.

Almond Milk
1 cup raw almonds
6 cups of cold water (this can be adjusted depending on how thick you like your milk)
Any flavoring you choose, today I made vanilla


Start by soaking your raw almonds preferable for 6 to 8 hours in cold water but I  don't plan ahead very well so I have been soaking mine in hot water for about an hour. I know technically this doesn't qualify as raw, I am not a raw foodie person so I am okay with soaking them in hot water if it gets me my almond milk faster. Here is a tip, look for raw almonds in bulk at your grocery store. They are so much cheaper than buying a bag I think I picked up my last few pounds of almonds for $2.88 a pound but normally they should be less than $4.00 a pound and you should get about 3 batches of milk out of each pound.

After they have soaked drain off the water they were soaking in and rinse them in cold water a few times.

Dump the soaked almonds into your blender along with 6 cups of cold water. Here is where you can play around with the thickness of the milk. I originally started making my milk with only 3 cups of water and while it was good, I thought it was to thick, kind of like the consistency of a half and half. I have always been a skim milk girl so I gradually added more water until I found a thickness I liked. So this will make a skim milk consistency, if you like your milk thicker, add less water just remember that the calorie count per cup will increase as you decrease the water.

You can see that I also added a whole vanilla bean to my milk. I know most of you are saying vanilla beans are spendy why would you put a whole one in your milk? Well, a year or so ago I bought vanilla beans in bulk for dirt cheap, I think I got like 200 beans for $20 or something like that. They have been sitting in my freezer since then and I use them when I can, making vanilla almond milk is a perfect use for them. Of course I realize most "normal" people don't have 200 vanilla beans hanging around their house so feel free to add some natural non alcohol based vanilla extract to the milk instead. Today I only used the almonds, water and a vanilla bean.

I was in a small local health food store the other day and they had all kinds of natural extracts. I saw a chai extract that I thought would make for a yummy flavor. I didn't buy it but may go back sometime and try it. I also have some rum extract left over from making rum cake over the holidays...I thought if I added some to the milk along with some cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves it might make for an eggnog type version next Christmas. Just be careful when buying a lot of extracts have alcohol and or sugar added so be sure to read your labels. You could also add some Stevia if you like your milk sweeter or even some cacao powder to make a chocolate almond milk. Basically what I am saying is sky is the limit when it comes to flavoring your almond milk or just leave it plain, I do this quite often so that I can make things like almond milk alfredo or my sweet potato frittata.

Put the lid on your blender and grind those almonds up. I have a fairly high power blender so it doesn't take much time as all but if your blender isn't as high power that is fine you will just have to blend it longer. You will no it is done when you don't have huge chunks of almonds left and a foam has developed on top of you milk.

Pour your milk into a mesh strainer that has been lined with 2 layers of cheese cloth. You could also buy a nut milk bag but I find this method works just fine so why buy something that isn't necessary, unless you really want to after all it is reusable which is nice so that you aren't creating as much waste, come on you know all us Oregonians are environmentalists at heart, reduce, reuse, recycle. I actually do a little sewing so I will probably make my own when my cheese cloth runs out...I know I can make them cheaper than $7.00 a bag. Let me know if you want one, you pay the shipping and I would be happy to make one and send it your way.

Let the milk drain until mostly nut pulp is left. At this point pick up the cheesecloth and squeeze the pulp over the strainer...there is quite a bit of milk left in the pulp. Continue to squeeze until all the milk is released from the pulp and the pulp is fairly dry.

Save the pulp, there are lots of uses for it probably not while on PINK but you can freeze it for later. My kids have requested cookies today and I am going to replace half of the flour in the recipe with my left over nut pulp. (I will be summoning all of my will power today to not eat these.) But there is a whole site devoted to what to do with nut pulp if you really want to use it somehow. The almond nut pulp crackers on this site intrigue me but I don't have much will power when it comes to resisting crackers even healthy ones so  I will probably pass.

Pour your milk into a pitcher and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Aren't these old fashion glass milk jars cute...I have been saving them not knowing what I would do with them, now I have a use. See my hoarding ways have paid off. You will have to shake the milk before use as I find it separates just a little but I think even the store bought brand says to shake before using. See I told you it was easy.

Enjoy your homemade almond milk!

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