The way my family has begun to think about food and what we allow in and on our bodies has been a big part of this process of simplifying. It was really the catalyst for much of the change that we have seen take place in our lives. It has changed so drastically in the last year (and continues to change as we grow and learn), and has become such a passion of mine, that I imagine I will write many posts in this category.
Since last summer, we have reduced our dairy intake (other than eggs), and while we never drank much milk in the first place, we have started to rely on non-dairy milk for baking and cooking. We began by buying soy, until we read about the dangers of it. Then switched to almond milk. Then, I began to investigate the ingredient carrageenan (which is found in virtually every commercially made almond milk, save a few, which have other unnecessary additives) and after researching it, have eliminated it from our diet (which isn’t easy, because it is in many processed foods). For more information about carrageenan, please see links at bottom of post. I thought that homemade almond milk wouldn’t taste anything like the store bought stuff and be expensive to make (most of the recipes I looked at online don’t seem to have a very high yield for the amount of almonds used – although there are a ton out there), but my entire family is happy with this almond milk in everything from oatmeal to homemade hot cocoa. It has been months since I have had “real” almond milk from the store, so maybe this isn’t as close in texture and taste as I think it is, but even so, our homemade version tastes so good to us, I see no reason to ever go back to store bought.
It’s so simple, I thought I would share my process with you.
*I have a pretty large blender which makes this take no time at all, but before I had my ninja, I used a 4 cup food processor and a 6 cup blender. You just do the same thing, but with 3 cups of water at a time. I would run it through 3 times with the same batch of almonds, see below for more details.
Grab a cute kid and an empty jar.
Measure one cup of almonds. I weighed it because I was curious how much I was paying per batch. These almonds cost me $8 per pound and one cup weighs in at 4 oz., making this batch come to $2.00 and makes about 3/4 of a gallon. Compare to the price at our local grocery story of $2.79 for half a gallon of processed and additive laden almond milk.
allow the almonds to soak for 12 – 24 hours (don’t skip this step!)
I add 6.5 to 7 cups of cold water to my blender and then add the almonds. I also put in a splash of vanilla extract and a teaspoon of honey (optional)
Blend on high for 2 or 3 minutes, depending on the strength of your blender. Before I had my ninja, I used lower-power blenders and food processors and let it blend longer. When you are finished, you will have three visible layers – the almond meal settled on the bottom, the milk, and the foam. Some recipes say to scoop the foam off, I leave it. Up to you.
Pour milk through a mesh sieve into a bowl. Alternatively, use a nutmilk bag or cheesecloth if you want it to be almond particle free. I don’t like to deal with it and we don’t mind our milk with a little bit of pulp (a regular sieve won’t get rid of the tiniest pulp, but we don’t mind it).
Squish the milk out of the almond meal and then return it to the blender with another 3 cups of water, honey and vanilla and run it through a second time. I like to get every last bit of almond milk I can. I put it through the sieve into the bowl again with the first batch before putting it into my jug.
when you are finished, you will have a nice big bowl of almond milk and a tray of almond meal. As I pour it into my jug, I put it through a smaller tea sieve that I have and get out most of the remaining tiny pulp (NOTE: do this into a bowl or measuring cup – it will make a mess if you try to do it straight into a jug – learn from my mistakes!). I then stick my almond meal in the toaster oven on 180 – 200 degrees until dry (OR stick it on top of our wood stove when a fire is going – just don’t forget about it and let it get to dry!) and then store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator or pantry until I use it.
And there you have it! Over half a gallon of almond milk (I actually got this 96 oz. jug fuller last time I made it), additive free and for much less than buying the processed stuff. I use this in everything from fritatas to baked goods to in our morning coffee, even in our mashed potatoes!
Hope you enjoy!
Links and resources:
Useful information regarding non-dairy milks:
Empowered Sustanence – Non-Dairy Milks: Think Twice Before You Buy
Some informative posts about carrageenan:
Empowered Sustanence – Carrageenan: The “Natural” Toxin in “Natural” Food
Whole Green Love – Carrageenan: Dangerous, Sneaky & Commonly Used Food Additive
A report by the Cornocopia Institute on the facts about Carrageenan and why it should be removed from our food