If You Buy Almond Milk Instead of Making It From Scratch, You’re Doing It Wrong

Slate's Culture Blog
March 20 2013 5:33 PM

You’re Doing It Wrong: Almond Milk

almond mil
Almond milk is easy to make at home, and is more delicious than store bought non-dairy milks.

Juliana Jimenez/Slate

I always thought non-dairy milks came from only one place: the grocery store. As a lactose intolerant, soymilk-in-my-coffee kind of girl, I was resigned to accepting thickeners and artificial ingredients in my dairy substitutes. So I was surprised and delighted when a friend tipped me off to the fact that I could make almond milk easily at home from raw almonds and water, with no tools required beyond a blender or food processor. I was already putting my Cuisinart to good use making homemade peanut butter, and I felt ready for the next challenge.

I was not disappointed. Homemade almond milk has a light and delicate flavor—it is essentially a blank slate that one can augment with all sorts of pleasing additions. In this recipe, I use cinnamon, vanilla, maple syrup, and nutmeg, but you could easily use agave, honey, or dates to sweeten it, along with any spices you fancy.

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Besides creating delicious almond milk, this recipe delivers a bonus byproduct: ground up almonds that you can put to good use as a flour substitute in cookie recipes or as a protein-rich addition to smoothies. Store this fringe benefit in your fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze it to keep longer.

Some recipes will tell you to remove the skin from each almond for aesthetic reasons before processing, but this step is time-consuming and unnecessary: After the milk is strained, very little of the almond skin remains in the final product. I do recommend, though, that you let your soaked and ground-up almonds steep in boiling water for 10 minutes, like a tea, before you strain out the solids. Hot water coaxes out the nuts’ flavor better than cold water, resulting in a superior flavor and a richer texture.

And don’t think almond milk is only pleasing to the dairy-averse. My milk-loving husband enjoys some whenever I make a fresh batch.

Almond Milk
Yield: About 4 cups
Time: About 30 minutes, partially unattended, plus 8 to 12 hours for soaking the almonds

1½ cups raw almonds
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Salt
Ground cinnamon to taste
Freshly ground nutmeg to taste

1. Put the almonds in a large bowl and add enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Soak the almonds at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. (The almonds will look visibly plumped after soaking.)

2. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Drain the almonds and transfer them to a blender or food processor. Add 1 cup of room-temperature water to the almonds and process for 1 to 2 minutes. The mixture should have the consistency of a thick paste. Transfer the paste to a medium bowl and add 2 cups of the boiling water. Let steep for about 10 minutes.

3. Working in batches, ladle the almond mixture into a medium- to fine-mesh metal strainer set over a large bowl. Press the ground almonds with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. (Reserve the ground almonds for another use.)

4. Add the maple syrup and vanilla, plus a pinch each of salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, to the almond milk; whisk to combine thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve at room temperature or chilled. (Store almond milk in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a few days, stirring before use.)

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