So…you know that almond milk you get in a carton from the refrigerated aisle at the grocery store? The Almond Breeze or Silk or whatever brand you buy? Well, it’s time to stop buying it. Yes, really. That stuff’s gross. I know, I know. Blasphemous, right? I used to love it, too…until I had the real thing. Plus, there’s like ten ingredients in the carton version, eight of which I wouldn’t recognize if they punched me in the face. I’ve never been punched by Sunflower Lecithin or Carageenan, but if I had I wouldn’t have known it.
Joking aside, the number one thing you can do to improve your health is to stop eating processed foods. It won’t happen overnight. It took me a couple years. It didn’t take long to cut out sodas, chips, and fast food. Then you start reading ingredient labels on so-called “health foods” like yogurt, cereal, and you guessed it…almond milk. And you find yourself googling ‘what is carageenan?’ Then you learn that carageenan (a seaweed derivative not to be confused with its whole food version, Irish Moss) impairs glucose tolerance and increases insulin resistance in lab rats and has been linked to colon disease and ulcers. It was listed as one of the 15 scariest food additives (right up there with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and aspartame) by Men’s Health Magazine. There is, of course, another camp that says it’s perfectly safe for human consumption. I think I’ll err on the side of caution.
Making your own almond milk is pretty simple and the reward is worth the effort. I must you warn you though, you may become addicted. Your kitchen will become an almond-milk-making factory. You’ll get greedy and start churning out gallons a week. You’ll start buying raw almonds in bulk. True confession: I have 50 pounds of almonds in my freezer. I happen to live in one of the biggest almond growing communities in the country, so that helps feed my almond milk habit.
You’ll need a few things before we get started. Not essential, but I highly recommend a nut milk bag such as this one. I like to strain the milk twice, once through the nut milk bag and again through cheesecloth-lined mesh sieve. All this straining might seem ex-STRAIN-eous, but trust me on this. Swallowing almond pulp is like drinking sand. No bueno. You’ll also need an air tight container to store it in. You can recycle a glass jar or use one of these nifty nalgene containers.
I recommend using raw, unpasteurized almonds if you can find them. It is illegal to sell domestic almonds that haven’t been pasteurized. Some health food stores sell imported raw almonds from Europe. Your best bet is a farmer’s market, where you can purchase unpasteurized almonds straight from the farmer. If you can’t get raw almonds, please buy certified organic. The two most common methods of pasteurization are steaming or fumigating with a known carcinogen called Propylene Oxide, or PPO. Certified organic almonds are steam-pasteurized, not fumigated. PPO is a highly toxic chemical used in the production of antifreeze and hydraulic fluid. This chemical is so toxic it has been banned by the American Motorcycle and National Hot Rod Associations, not to mention it has been outlawed in other countries such as Mexico, Canada, and the entire European Union! But somehow the FDA thinks it’s okay to spray on our almonds. I’m still scratching my head.
Are you ready?
Let’s do this.
First, soak the unpasteurized almonds for 12-24 hours, refreshing the water every 12 hours. Soaking the nuts releases the tannic acids and enzyme inhibitors that protect the almond until it’s ready to germinate. Your body will more readily absorb nutrients and more easily digest the almonds if they have been soaked. This step is non-negotiable!
Pour off the soaking water, rinse well.
Put soaked almonds into a blender and fill with fresh, filtered water to the max fill line, about 6 cups.
Blend on high for 2 minutes.
Strain the almond pulp through a nut milk bag and a cheesecloth-lined mesh sieve sitting on top of a bowl.
Slowly squeeze the milk from the bag until you are left with just the almond pulp in the bag. Set aside.
Now, add 2-3 dates (depending on how sweet you like it) back into the blender with 1 cup of the almond milk.
…add a half teaspoon of vanilla…
Blend the dates, vanilla, and 1 cup of milk for 30-60 seconds. Add the remaining milk into the blender and blend for an additional 30 seconds. Strain one more time through the cheesecloth to remove the date pulp.
Now you are left with nothing but smooth, creamy, satisfying almond milk…and a bag full of pulp.
This pulp can be used to make almond meal by dehydrating it and grinding it as a flour substitute. Just spread the pulp on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 2-3 hours on the lowest heat setting until there is no more moisture in the pulp. Remove from oven and let cool for an hour. Blend in a blender until you achieve a flour-like consistency. Reserve for baking.
Here is the finished product.
If you already have stock piles of almond meal, you could feed the pulp to your chickens. They love it. You DO have chickens, don’t you?
I gotta admit, I’m feeling a bit Little House On The Prairie right now making my own milk, flour, and raising backyard chickens. These were all changes I made gradually and now they are just part of the routine.
One step at a time.