I’ll go ahead and say it. The world doesn’t need another homemade almond milk recipe. A quick Google search brings up 149 million hits (which, granted – is a lot less than a search for ‘Brad and Jen’. Seriously, why is this still a thing, people?).
And yet, I still get loads of questions (and perplexed looks) when I talk about my homemade almond milk. Don’t get me wrong, I love going on about almond milk: how I first started making it 10 years ago without a high speed blender. How I got hooked when I found it could taste like kheer (hint: add cardamom and a date!). How it’s soo much better than store-bought…
This is probably why I don’t get invited to parties.
But that’s okay, I’m about to gate-crash your party to tell you ALL about it. Listen up – homemade almond milk is one of the simplest luxuries that you will make in your own kitchen. It’s also a nourishing substitute for dairy, especially if you’re lactose-intolerant or trying to go dairy-free.
All you need is:
- raw almonds (soaked overnight)
- a blender (a high-speed one like a Vitamix, Blendtec or Nutribullet is helpful for this)
- a clean, air-tight jar or bottle to store it in.
- optional: a nut-milk bag, cheesecloth or clean t-shirt/pantyhose (I’ll explain why this is optional).
So, what’s up with store-bought?
While I’m all about convenience, and get that homemade almond milk can be a pain to make every few days, here are my gripes with store-bought almond milk:
Gripe #1: Store-bought is full of junk (but there are exceptions).
Where to begin? First, there’s carrageenan (admittedly a type of seaweed) – a filler ingredient used to emulsify and thicken the milk. As early as the 80s, carrageenan was observed to suppress the immune system, later shown to trigger symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease in sensitive digestive tracts and even suspected to be potentially carcinogenic. Some almond milk brands now pride themselves on being “carrageenan-free!” for that reason (but know that carrageenan is also in some brands of ice-cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, and deli-meats, so read the labels!).
Then there are gums like xanthan, guar, gellan and locust bean that are used as thickeners. To be fair, these gums are also used in gluten-free cooking, but what are they doing in my almond milk? No.
And, then we have BS like rapeseed oil, once again, an emulsifier, typically found in almond milk creamers. WHY, why why why! Finally, don’t get me started on the added sugar, natural flavors, etc, etc.
Here’s the thing. Almond milk is already mostly water (as it should be: almonds+water). Does it really need all the other fillers to increase its shelf-life and make it thick like milk? You tell me.
Gripe #2: Store-bought is mostly water.
So is home-made almond milk. But bear with me a sec.
Almonds by themselves are nutritional powerhouses. 1/4 cup almonds contains 7g protein, 4g fiber (with prebiotic benefits), 16g healthy fats (of which 10g are monounsaturated, 4g are polyunsaturated and 1.2g is saturated), a stellar vitamin E profile (8mg or 75% of your daily required intake), a good range of B-vitamins (needed for energy production), and reasonable amounts of copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc. Almonds are a nutritionally balanced food.
But almonds ≠ almond milk. Let’s compare the above to the nutritional facts of a few store-bought almond milk brands.
The problem is not the added minerals – it’s that your body may not know how to process them, when they’re consumed in an isolated form (i.e., not as a whole food).
Which begs the question – what are you paying for? Water mixed with a multivitamin? Oh, right…the packaging.
Gripe #3: Store-bought involves packaging.
That means more plastic or Tetra pak packaging that not only require resources (some sustainable, some not) to be produced, but also more packaging that you now have to recycle, reuse or discard in a way that minimizes your carbon footprint.
Tetra pak, by the way is not fully recyclable – it’s made of paper, aluminum and polythene, and only 75% (the paper portion) rebirths as a new Tetra pak, the rest goes into a polyaluminum compound that eventually ends up as a single-use plastic. And we now know that not all plastics are recycled either.
See, I told you I’d talk your ear off. Let’s get back to this recipe already!
So, what makes my homemade almond milk different?
Well, most almond milk recipes involve 5 steps: 1) soaking the almonds overnight, 2) rinsing the almonds, 3) slipping the peels off, 4) blending with water – with sea salt and yummy additions like vanilla bean, dates and more, 5) straining the milk of all the almond meal before drinking.
My recipe involves 3 steps. That’s right, the key element differentiating my recipe from the others is (my) laziness. I’ve found ways to make my homemade almond milk more convenient and a breeze to make. Will it be as creamy as the other recipes? Probably not – but it will be more nutritious, and that works for me.
Here are my 3 steps:
- 1. Soak the almonds overnight. This is a critical step to activate the enzymes in the almonds.
- 2. Rinse the almonds. Peeling the skins is optional; the skin contains potent flavonoids (antioxidants) that are bioavailable when combined with vitamin C&E. Although, some claim that the skin contains tannic acids that are nutrient inhibitors, I haven’t found specific evidence to confirm this (shh, I never peel #lazy).
- 3. Blend! Straining the milk using a nut milk bag is optional, and will make the milk creamier. Not straining (as shown in the photo below) allows you to retain all the lovely fiber (and prebiotic benefits) and almond goodness, such as protein, healthy fats, and powerful antioxidants. Bonus – your body knows how to use them!
You can now store your almond milk in the fridge in an air-tight container for 2-3 days. Use it for smoothies, chia puddings, overnight oats and dairy-free pasta sauces. Heating this almond milk will make it separate, so heat at low temps if you must!
No-waste hack: Almond milk goes bad if stored for longer than 3 days. So to avoid the risk of waste, I now prefer to blend almond milk on-the-go. To do this:
- Soak a bigger batch overnight – say 1 cup of almonds for 4 days.
- Rinse and blend up what you need (usually 1/4 cup for 1 smoothie.
- Rinse the rest and thoroughly dry them (air-drying is fine).
- Store the remainder in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week.
This way, you can have fresh almond milk on demand all week!
Easy Homemade Almond Milk
- Blender (high-speed is helpful)
- Optional: nut-milk bag or strainer.
- 1/4 cup raw almonds (organic if possible)
- 1 cup filtered water
- pinch sea salt (optional)
- Soak the almonds in cool, filtered water overnight or for 8 hours.
- Rinse the almonds thoroughly. (Optional: slip off the skins)
- Place in a high-speed blender with 1 cup of filtered water, and blend for about 30 -60 seconds until smooth. (Optional: strain using a nut-milk bag and use the remaining almond meal in baking, or add to soups/stews/pasta sauces for more fiber.)
- Use immediately, or store in an air-tight jar in the fridge for 2-3 days.