Is it weird that I like to browse in Whole Foods? I just LOVE being in there. The smells, the amazing products, the aisles and aisles of healthy food! Really – how could anything that costs so much be bad for you? The other day when I was browsing (yes – I really do that!) in Whole Foods I picked up a box of Almond Milk and actually read the ingredients – and discovered a whole array of stuff and preservatives that I didn’t really want to eat! Yikes! It was time to make my own.
I had been “dreaming” about making my own – read a BUNCH of recipes – but I didn’t own a nut bag. And really – how can you make almond milk (or any other nut milk) without a nut bag? Good thing that I was in Whole Foods – so I promptly bought myself some almonds and a nut bag and headed home.
Once you make homemade nut milks at home, you’ll likely stop buying them at the store. Plus – you get to store them in mason jars (and if you read my post on salads in a jar you know how much I love to use mason jars!). They really are so, so simple and it’s nice knowing exactly what’s in them and being able to completely control the amount of sweetness on your own. That’s the upside.
The downside is you do have to soak the nuts for at least 6 hours and preferably overnight, so – yes – I had to wait for my very first batch. Although – really not a big deal if you plan ahead. 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. Seriously … keep this in mind. J laughed at me once (well – he often pokes fun at all of my “crunchy” stuff) but this time because I had made such an effort – and then didn’t drink it all soon enough – and it was AWFUL and SUPER stinky!
A Few Tips When Making Homemade Nut Milks
- 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. Sometimes I put in some dates for natural sweetness.
- 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 – which of course I HAD to have!!! Turns out you don’t need this! I promise. Use a good-quality cheesecloth draped over a colander and you’re good to go. Much easier than squeezing the nut bag and perhaps squirting yourself and much of the kitchen with almond milk. (Yep – that happened. I should have taken a picture!)
- 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 in my dehydrator. You can also use the lowest setting of your oven 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.
So – are you ready to try some recipes?
Basic Almond Milk
- 1.5 cups whole raw almonds
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1.5 tbsp agave
- Soak the Almonds for 6 or more hours
- Rinse the almonds and put all of the ingredients in the blender. (I use a Vitamix. Couldn’t live without it!)
- Place 3 or 4 layers of cheesecloth over a metal strainer set over a bowl. The strainer or a single layer of cheesecloth wouldn’t strain the almond milk well enough, since it’s so well-blended. Pour the almond milk through the strainer into the bowl. You might have to do this part in batches, depending on the size of your strainer and bowl. Use a spoon or spatula to press down on the strainer and move the solids around, to help the almond milk through the cheesecloth.
- You may want to squeeze out the remaining almond pulp to get all of the goodness.
Remember – move your body, put good things in and ENJOY every day!