Creamy, delicious, protein-rich almond milk. A dairy substitute for kids with allergies or lactose intolerance. An alternative for families who are vegan, or who are worried about hormones in cow’s milk. The wonder drink for the whole family.
Or so we thought, until recently.
You’ve probably heard that commercial almond milk has been getting a bad rap lately. We reported back in July that the percentage of Almond Breeze almond milk that was, um, actually almonds was a mere 2 percent. Add to that a bunch of sugar, the presence of a suspect thickener called carrageenan, and of course the price of almond milk at your local store, and you might be convinced to switch your family back to the kind that comes from cows.
But all of those issues are with commercial almond milk.
The homemade version, on the other hand, is packed with whatever you want. Want more of that good almond protein to go into your family’s bellies? Go for it! Want to feed your kids only natural sweeteners, or no sweeteners at all? No problem! (Have almond allergies in the family, but can tolerate other nuts? See below for a list of variations on the theme.)
Homemade almond milk is that kind of can-do beverage. A real wonder drink, if you will.
And it’s a whole lot easier than you think.
The Case for Homemade Almond Milk
So homemade almond milk is better than store-bought. But does it justify the time?
Yes. Without a doubt. For these reasons.
1. Homemade almond milk has none of the downsides of commercial almond milk (like seaweed thickeners and other additives), and all the benefits—namely, almonds. These super powered tree nuts are a great source of fiber, Vitamin E, Vitamin B2 and the trace minerals manganese and copper. Plus, they’re great for heart health. You’ll lose some of the fiber during the straining process, but you can get it back if you use the pressed almond meal in your smoothies or baking (see our tips, below).
2. The “time” we’re talking about here is about ten minutes of active work, with several hours of soaking. Not a huge commitment, even for the crazy-busy. And since the only active work is measuring and blending, you can get your little sous chefs involved as well.
3. What kid wouldn’t love milking a nut? Besides the giggle-inducing concept and the hands-on science experiment, you’re making something delicious together. Who doesn’t want that, and all the sweet memories that go with it?
- A blender, food processor, or immersion blender
- Raw is best, but blanched or roasted work too.
- Start with one cup for a small family, or two cups for a large family.
- Any add-ins you might want (see our suggested variations, below)
- A straining implement set over a bowl or other receptacle
1. Put your almonds in a blender or bowl.
2. Add water so they’re covered with about two inches of water at the top (to allow them room to expand as they soak).
3. Let them soak on the counter for two hours up to overnight.
4. Drain the soaked nuts.
5. Add fresh water at a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio. Eyeballing it is fine here.
6. Blend, process, or use your immersion blender to get it rich and creamy.
7. Strain through your nut milk bag, cheesecloth, or mesh coffee filter. Press down on the solids to get all the milk out. (This is the most annoying part. But you’re almost there! Hang in there!)
8. Chill for up to three days.
9. Serve cold, at room temperature, or warm. Enjoy!
- Forgot to start the soaking overnight? No worries – use boiling water for the first batch of water (the soak), and you can cut the soak time down to an hour. (But try to soak longer next time, since the longer you soak, the tastier it is.)
- Use hot water for the second batch of water to make the milk creamier.
- You don’t need a high-speed, fancy blender to make almond milk. But if you have something weaker than a Blendtec or Vitamix, tack on some extra soak time to make it easier on your machine.
- Really want a lot of nutrients in your milk? Don’t strain it. You’ll get to drink all that delicious nut fiber. But the texture will be more like a smoothie, and it has a lot of fiber if you (and your intestines) catch my drift.
- Otherwise, use the leftover almond meal that’s in the bag after straining for things where you do want the extra fiber, like baking, granola, and smoothies.
One easy way to change up your almond milk routine is to use something other than almonds!
All of these nuts and seeds work great, as do blends of these.
- Cashews (check out a recipe—and some familiar photos!—from vanilla & lace)
- Hulled hemp seeds
- Walnuts (consider blanching and skinning them first to avoid bitterness)
(One caveat: The almond-milking mama I know says to stay far, far away from trying to make flax seed milk, unless you’re a pro at squeezing milk from the slimiest ingredients. Perfectly safe, but not super appetizing!)
Want to change it up even more? Try flavoring your nut milk with one of these drool-worthy recipes. (Just swap the almonds for other nuts if you prefer.)
- Vanilla Almond Milk from AntoniaJames on Food52
- Super Thick DIY Chocolate Almond Milk from Minimalist Baker
- Homemade Strawberry Almond Milk from Edible Perspective
- Vegan Almond Banana Milk from A Cozy Kitchen
- Pumpkin Spice Almond Milk (um, yes please!) from Free People’s BLDG 25 blog
For ten minutes of active work, you get a delicious, whole-foods beverage for the whole family.
Now that deserves a smile.
Photos from top: Homemade cashew milk/Flickr, DIY Blended Coffee – Recipes with almond milk/Flickr, Almonds!/Flickr, almond milk in the making/Flickr, almond milk in the making/Flickr, almond milk in the making/Flickr, Sippy Cup Smile/Flickr