At the health store some years ago, I pick up a box of almond milk and remember being enthralled by the idea of it. It’s just too bad that the enthrallment didn’t extend to reality – the product’s packaged flavor made me gag – so much so that I emptied the offensive one liter box down the drain.
Nut milks and nut butters are so the rage and on-my-radar now, that I have to give almond milk another try. Nut milks became popular because of the uptick in the Paleo and vegan diets, diets that I take a poke at in this post. Satire aside, I’m surprised to discover that homemade almond milk is infinitely more glorious than the packaged kind, there’s really no comparison. Plus, making it myself does away with unnecessary sugars and stabilizing agents that I feel give the milk a thick, “gloppy” taste.
Use any kind of nut you wish, except for peanuts, which aren’t really nuts anyway but legumes. I’m fascinated with combining nuts that result in intriguingly flavored milks. Some of my favorites: almond+cashew, almond+macadamia, almond+coconut, walnut+Brazil nut, walnut+hazelnut, pistachio+cashew.
Here’s the step by step process to make 1 liter of nut milk. Today I’m making almond-macadamia milk so that’s what I’m showing in this illustrative guide.
- 1 generous cup of almonds, raw and either blanched or unblanched. (I honestly couldn’t be bothered to remove the skins of the almonds, and I feel they don’t taste any different either way).
- ½ cup macadamia nuts, raw and unsalted, but you can use salted if you wish.
- Up to 1/2 cup of dates. For a liter, I only use about 6 dates because I like my nut milk to have only a suggestion of sweet.
- 2 plump vanilla beans – yep, the whole thing.
- 1 liter water, either cold or room temperature but preferably not from the tap.
Combine almonds, macadamia nuts, and dates in a large container. I like using my largest glass measuring cup which holds 8 cups.
Cover and let soak overnight at room temperature. I’ve let the nuts steep for as brief as an hour to as long as 16 hours. I don’t suggest soaking any longer than that, however.
Here’s my mixture after 12 hours of soaking.
Now, we blend. There are some recipes I’ve seen that instruct me to drain the water that the nuts have been soaking in and use new water for blending. To my mind, this seems wasteful and pointless – all that flavor going down the drain! You choose, but I blend the nuts in the water they’ve been soaking in.
Transfer nuts-dates-water-vanilla bean mixture to a blender. On highest speed, blend mixture for about 3-4 minutes. Mixture will become finely pureed dotted with specks of the nut skins and vanilla bean seeds. It will already start to smell appealingly nutty.
Put a strainer over a large container and drape strainer with a cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel. This is very similar to squeezing grated coconut (niyog) so if you want to be macho and can conduct yourself without the cloth or towel, suit yourself. Carefully pour blended mixture into the prepared strainer setup.
Allow mixture to drain. At this point, or, if you’re impatient and want to hurry things along, you can press down on the mixture with a wide rubber spatula.
Once the milk has drained into the bowl, carefully gather up the cloth/towel and squeeze repeatedly to coax out all that healthy liquid. I’ve gone the macho-no-towel route before and squeezed nut meal using only my bare hands but I find that the cloth ensures every last drop of liquid is wrung out.
This is the nut meal that remains inside the cloth after squeezing. Because I’m averse to waste, I’ve tried incorporating this nut meal into my homemade granola and also into my homemade yogurt. Unfortunately, the meal turns my granola an unappetizing grey color and the meal itself is quite tasteless. I end up discarding the meal but if you’re more persistent, dry it out in a low oven and use it as nut flour in gluten free baking.
Transfer nut milk to a clean jar and keep chilled. Shake milk before enjoying.
This recipe will make approximately a quart of nut milk that must be consumed within 4-5 days. Any longer than that and the milk begins to taste sour. Since I’m the only one in my household that drinks nut milk, I end up making just a third of the recipe which makes just a little over one and 1/3 cups that lasts me three to four days.
This recipe is the culinary equivalent of yoga pants, stretch and bend to your likes and preferences. Try this nut milk as I do in homemade nut milk lattes (hot and iced), and in oatmeal, etc. This milk is also beyond delicious when mixed in with some coconut milk, the fresh kind from the market mind you, and not packaged.
Tell me how you make your nut milk and how this recipe works out for you!