Store bought almond milk has a whole array of other ingredients and preservatives including a lot of sugar. You have to soak the nuts for at least 6 hours and preferably overnight. And because there aren’t preservatives to keep it shelf-stable and fresh, it’s really only good for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. Freeze any leftovers in ice cube trays for use later.
A Few Tips When Making Homemade Nut Milks
1. Sweetening: I actually tend to like my nut milks not too sweet, but adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey or agave is nice as is 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. A lot of folks blend in 1 to 2 sweet Medjool dates for natural sweetness.
2. Straining: For many nut milk recipes, you’ll see the need for a “nut bag.” This is essentially a bag made of a substance much like a super fine weave cheesecloth. You don’t need this! I promise. Use a good-quality cheesecloth draped over a colander and you’re good to go.
3. Leftover Pulp: After making your homemade nut milk, you’re going to be left with a few cups of perfectly good pulp. Some recipes instruct you to toss it. I can never stand to do so, so I dry mine out on the lowest setting of my oven (170°F in my case) with the oven door cracked ajar. This takes 6 to 7 hours and is obviously not ideal in the hotter summer months, but it results in really delicious almond meal that you can use in cookies, breads, and muffins. If you’d rather, it makes pretty great compost for the garden instead.
- 1 cup raw almonds, soaked in water
- 3.5 cups filtered water
- 2-4 pitted Medjool dates*, to taste (I used 2 large)
- 1 whole vanilla bean*, chopped (or 1/2-1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- small pinch of fine grain sea salt, to enhance the flavour
- Place almonds in a bowl and cover with water. It’s preferred to soak them overnight (for 8-12 hours) in the water, but you can get away with soaking for 1-2 hours in a pinch.
- Rinse and drain the almonds and place into a blender along with filtered water, pitted dates, and chopped vanilla bean.
- Blend on highest speed for 1 minute or so.
- Place a nut milk bag over a large bowl and slowly pour the almond milk mixture into the bag. Gently squeeze the bottom of the bag to release the milk. This took me about 3-5 minutes to get all the milk out.
- Rinse out blender and pour the milk back in. Add the cinnamon and pinch of sea salt and blend on low to combine.
- Pour into a glass jar to store in the fridge for up to 3-5 days. Shake jar very well before using as the mixture separates when sitting. Enjoy with Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies for a real treat. This milk is also lovely with cereal.
Notes: If your dates or vanilla bean are dry/stiff, soak in water to soften before use. You can also use another sweetener of your choice like maple syrup. Same goes for vanilla – feel free to use vanilla extract for a more subtle vanilla flavour.
My favourite flavour combo is a whole vanilla bean, a couple Medjool dates, cinnamon, and a pinch of sea salt. It’s intensely vanilla flavoured with notes of caramel and cinnamon. The secret to an intense vanilla flavour is blending an entire vanilla bean. Just chop it up and toss the whole bean into the blender. You’ll be left with some amazing vanilla almond milk. Of course you can always use vanilla extract or liquid sweeteners too. If using the dates and/or vanilla bean, add them along with the almonds and water. If you simply want to add a liquid sweetener or vanilla extract, you can add them now or at the end. Your call.
Blend for 1 minute on the highest speed.
Purchase a nut milk bag. Place your bag over a large bowl and slowly pour in the milk.
You can use the almond pulp for all kinds of things like oatmeal, hummus, homemade granola, smoothies, cookie or muffin batter, crackers, or you can even dehydrate it and then blend it up to make almond meal. Oh, and you can freeze it too.
Homemade almond milk can be cheaper than store bought or it can be more expensive; it really depends on your ingredients. When I see bulk almonds on sale, I like to stock up and buy a big bag. Pop a bag in the freezer to ensure they stay fresh.
To avoid almonds sprayed with the chemical propylene oxide, please see this article and this handy guide to common brands that do and do not use the chemical. If you are concerned about propylene oxide on your almonds be sure to check with your almond retailer to see what sterilization method is used.
Sprouted Almond Milk:
Nuts contain some phytic acids, which are called “anti-nutrients” because they bind to minerals and prevent their uptake. Soaking removes the phytates to enable the nutrients in the nuts to be more bio-available. Sprouting further improves the nutrition and digestibility, because a sprouted seed, nut or grain basically turns into a plant after they are sprouted, which the body is better able to digest and absorb nutrients from. Sprouting is just a longer soak, and requires that you drain/replace the water a couple times of day (approx. every 12 hours) until little ‘tails’ start to poke out of the end of the nut.
How to Sprout: http://www.almondessence.com/photos/photos.html
Try a Recipe:
• Homemade Almond Milk – Lovely Morning
• Homemade Cashew Milk – Alana’s Pantry
• Creamy Chocolate Hazelnut Milk – Always Order Dessert
• Spiced Hazelnut Milk – Roost
• Homemade Pistachio Milk – Food Babe