I’ve been a big supporter of the almond milk industry for the past couple of years. It tastes great, is easy on the tummy, and doesn’t have the same controversial reviews as soymilk. That said, as I perused the ingredient list on my most recent almond milk purchase, I found more mystery ingredients than suit my liking. In addition to obvious ingredient (almonds), I found the following listed: calcium carbonate, tapioca starch, sea salt, potassium citrate, carrageenan, sunflower lecithin, natural flavor, vitamin a palmitate, vitamin d2 and d-alpha-tocopherol. While I recognize that many of these ingredients (like sea salt) are pretty harmless, I simply can’t say I like the idea of consuming processed extractions that I cannot pronounce.
I started wondering, as I often do, just how tricky it is to make your own almond milk. So hear comes the big question: how do you milk an almond? It turns out that it’s simpler than it sounds (certainly simpler than Robert De Niro would suggest). The basic premise is that you soak the almonds overnight, blend them with fresh water in the morning, and strain out the grainy bits. That’s it!
Some recipes take a shortcut and skip the soaking process but it is an important step for us health-“nuts” (pun intended). Here’s why: soaking breaks down phytic acid, an enzyme inhibitor found in nuts, seeds, beans, and grains, that inhibits important nutrients from being properly absorbed and digested by our bodies. By soaking phytate-containing foods, the phytic acid begins to break down and become neutralized, thus making the food’s nutrients more available to our digestive systems. If you’d like to read more about this, here are a few very informative articles:
When you’re ready to get started, try out this simple recipe. I encourage you to experiment with adding different ingredients (which I touch on below) and using the finished product in a variety of recipes (as a dairy replacement in baked goods, on your cereal, in smoothies, for hot chocolate!). Let me know what your favorite use of this recipe is!
Tools You’ll Need:
Cheesecloth or mesh strainer
Funnel (optional, but helpful)
Glass mason jar with lid
- 1 cup raw organic almonds
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar OR a small strip of kelp (optional)
- Soak the almonds in 4 cups of water for 12 to 24 hours, changing the water after 12 hours. If using the kelp or apple cider vinegar, add this to the initial soaking water to aid in the neutralization of the phytic acid and improve digestibility.
- Drain and rinse the almonds.
- Combine almonds with 4 cups of water in a blender. Blend on high for 3 minutes.
- Strain almond milk through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
This basic recipe for almond milk will stay fresh in your fridge for at least 4 days and up to a week. If it separates, simply give it a shake before using. Some people like to add a touch of sweetener or flavor to their almond milk. Try experimenting with adding 1-2 teaspoons of maple syrup or honey, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, or the scrapings from the inside of a vanilla bean as suggested by the Blissful Eats blog.
TIP: Don’t throw away the almond meal that’s leftover! You can dehydrate it in your oven at 300°F for an hour and use it in any recipe that calls for almond meal or almond flour. It would be great baked into brownies or cookies, sprinkled on salads, used for coating fish or chicken, or blended into smoothies.
I used some of mine for an impromptu facial: Combine 1 tsp. almond meal with 1 tsp. liquid honey and apply it to your face and neck. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then rinse it off in the shower!