Your Ultimate Guide to Making Homemade Almond Milk
Pictured recipe: Homemade Almond Milk
One of the most ubiquitous of all nondairy beverages out there is almond milk. You can buy it sweetened (or not), flavored (or not), refrigerated or shelf-stable. The choices are endless. So why the heck would you make it yourself? If you're a fan, it turns out that there may be plenty of good reasons-and it's easier than you think. Read on for why you should give almond milk a try, why making it yourself could be beneficial and how to make it at home.
Why Almond Milk?
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If you're vegan or lactose intolerant, almond milk offers a great alternative to skim milk. But if you're none of the above, it still touts plenty of advantages. It's relatively low in calories (about 30 calories per cup depending on the brand for the unsweetened variety versus 80 calories for 1 cup of skim milk), and with virtually no sugar (again, for the unsweetened stuff) it has almost no carbohydrates. If you're looking for protein, almond milk is lacking (it has around 1 gram per cup) but if you're using it in smoothies, adding nuts, lentils or protein powder can give it a boost. Nutrition aside, its mild, nutty taste is never intrusive and it's a great starting point for people trying nondairy beverages for the first time.
Try these: Almond Milk Smoothie Recipes
Why Should You Make Almond Milk Yourself?
Almond milk is everywhere, so why make it yourself? Well, you may be surprised to learn that almonds are only one of the ingredients in store-bought almond milk. Stabilizers, flavors and additives such as carrageenan, a natural thickener that may lead to inflammation, are all common ingredients in store-bought almond milk. What are the main ingredients in homemade almond milk? Almonds and water. Plus, making it yourself gives you some creative liberties that you wouldn't otherwise get. You can use spices to like cinnamon or cardamom to give it flavor all your own and choose whether or not to add a sweetener like maple syrup, honey or agave at the end to sweeten it up.
Is Almond Milk Good or Bad for the Environment?
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Unfortunately, with its growing popularity, large-scale production of almond milk is negatively impacting our environment. Two of the biggest factors revolve around excessive water use in drought-stricken areas in California where almonds are grown, and the use of pesticides in growing the almonds. Making your own at home can lessen the burden if you use organic almonds, which won't have been produced with synthetic pesticides. Plus, almond pulp, a by-product of making your own almond milk, can be composted or added to smoothies or baked goods, thus eliminating any waste.
How to Make Almond Milk at Home
Step 1: Soak
Combine 1 cup raw whole almonds and flavorings of your choice (such as cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, whole pitted dates, cloves, etc.) in a large bowl. Cover with water and let soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Step 2: Blend
Drain the almonds and discard any whole spices (softer ingredients like pitted dates can be left in). Rinse the almonds; then puree with 5½ cups water in a blender until finely ground.
Step 3: Strain
Strain the almond milk through a sieve lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth (or a nut-milk bag, see below) into a large measuring cup or bowl. Gather the cheesecloth (or the nut-milk bag) and squeeze to extract as much almond milk as possible. Discard the pulp or reserve for another use.
Step 4: Add Flavor
Whisk 1/4 teaspoon salt and any additional flavors or sweeteners, if using, into the almond milk. You'll get about 6 cups almond milk that can be held covered in the fridge for 3 days.
Get the Full Recipe: Homemade Almond Milk
Equipment for Making Homemade Almond Milk
You can make almond milk with common kitchen equipment but if you really LOVE making your own almond milk and want to speed up the process, there are some products to consider. The Almond Cow cuts down on time and mess by grinding and straining the almonds all in one handy machine. You go from almonds to milk in just 5 minutes. (You still have to start with almonds soaked overnight.) If you're not ready for a new appliance, investing in a nut-milk bag to use in place of cheesecloth is a cheap and easy investment. It's a fine-mesh bag that's perfect for straining pulp and is reusable.
Related: Buyers Guide to Non-Dairy Milks