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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Make Your Own Almond Milk

Ever since my daughter was a baby she had a problem digesting lactose.  She drank goat milk as a young person.  We got the milk from a friend who milked goats.  It is an acquired tasted that I never acquired.  Over the years we would go back to cow's milk, but there were always issues with it.  My husband doesn't tolerate cow's milk very well either, so we eventually turned to lactose free cow's milk, lactaid and now almond or coconut milk.  Milk is the same as everything else in our food supply, we don't really know what is in it.  One day I watched Dr. Oz make Almond milk.  It was super easy.  He said purchased almond milk is only 2% almonds and has stuff added to it for flavor.  It also has ingredients which probably extends the shelf life.  Have you ever looked at the expiration date on a carton of almond milk?  It lasts for months.  That is when I started to make our own almond milk.  It tastes better.  It actually tastes like almonds because it is 25% almonds and the rest is water.  Nothing else is added.  You could add vanilla or a little sweetener, but we prefer it plain.  My husband is the only person I know who eats his oatmeal plain with milk.  He doesn't add sugar, raisins, cinnamon or anything else.  To me it's like eating wallpaper paste, but that's how he likes it.  I like it loaded with sweetness.  I won't even eat it unless I can doctor it up a bit.

Almond Milk

To make a quart of almond milk you soak 1 cup of plain unsalted almonds in 4 cups of filtered water.  I use the almonds with skin on because I like the fiber in the leftover meal.  Plain blanched almonds would also work as long as they aren't bleached or treated.  Even if you don't make almond milk, almonds should be soaked to eat.  It makes them much more digestible and therefore you get more nutritional value from eating them.

Organic almonds soaking in plain water.

Let the almonds soak to soften them up.  I have read some recipes that say to soak them for an hour.  I usually soak for at least 8 hours.  You can soak them for 24 hours if you can't get to them before that.  When the almonds are soaked, drain off the soaking water and add the softened almonds to a blender.

The soaking water gets discolored so pour it off.
 
Add back 4 cups of fresh water.  Blend on high until the nuts are completely blended.  It only takes a couple minutes.  At this point you have almond milk with ground up nuts in it.  You want to remove the almond meal by pouring the milk through several layers of cheese cloth, a fine sieve or a nut bag.  After the milk is strained, the almond meal is left behind.  Originally I used a metal fine mesh strainer but couldn't get all the milk out so the meal looked very wet.  This is how it looked coming out of a fine mesh strainer. 

 
 
 

I purchased a nut bag to better strain the milk.  A nut bag is a tightly woven cloth bag designed to strain the milk, but it can also be used to strain tea, coffee, broth, or anything else you want to get the debris out of.  It washes easily.  Purchasing one was well worth it.  It cleans up easily after all of the milk is squeezed out and the meal is removed.  The instructions say to store the unused bag in the freezer to prevent any bacteria growing on the bag.  It seems like an excellent idea.

This is the brand I bought, but there are many on the market.

The finished milk which looks just like "real" milk.

The almond meal that comes out of the nut bag is much drier and dries completely quite quickly.  After it is dried, I just save it in the refrigerator and sprinkle it on yogurt, cereal or I put it in baked goods for added nutrition.

I dehydrate the meal but a low oven will dry it just fine.

The dried almond meal saved from making the almond milk.

I made a loaf of Banana Bread today and put in 1/2 cup of Almond meal.