Considering that I have been a vegan for quite a few years and make nut milks on a regular basis, this recipe should have arrived much earlier on the blog. It did not feel important to me until a few emails nudged me. Nice. I always wanted to take a picture of milk in a bottle. This milk is faintly aromatic and tastes delicious.
Almonds are a
good delicious and good source of calcium. It has been found that calcium from dairy milk is simply leeched from thebody. With almond milk there is no leeching. Meaning that you really benefit as the calcium is absorbed.
Why make your own almond milk when you can get a pack off the shelf?
I know. Off-the-shelf is so much easier, right? I feel too. Sometimes. Off-the-shelf milk is also so much thicker!
True – homemade almond milk will never turn out as thick as off-the-shelf milk. Packaged non-dairy milks contain carrageenan. Carrageenan is a sea weed known as ‘irish moss’ and is used as a thickening agent/gelling agent in sauces, milks, ice creams and non-food products. The use of carrageenan in food products is a highly debated topic. It is one of the major suspects in causing colon cancer apart from many other infractions in the human body.
Homemade milks are fresh, tasty and smell of the nuts, unlike packaged ones. Yes, they do taste better. It takes about 20 minutes of your time right from the first blending upto the bottling. Not that tough, right? Your body will love it. So will the taste-buds.
Let’s make it now.
I use a concave, thin variety called ‘mamra badaam’, easily available in India. The skin is slightly bitter as compared to regular almonds and this variety is said to have medicinal properties. I like to keep the skin on and I like the bitter sweet taste when I eat them. In the milk there is only a mild sweet aroma and no bitterness.
It is necessary to soak nuts for at least 4-5 hours as this will make it easy to blend and the milk will be creamy. I like to soak overnight mostly. Sometimes I soak the nuts before I leave for work and make the milk in the evening.
Recipe : Almond nut milk | A non-dairy milk for vegans and lactose-intolerants
Time to soak almonds : 8-9 hours
Preparation time : 10-20 minutes
Almonds, with skin – 1 cup
Water – 3-3.5 cups (I like mine thick)
Options for flavouring:
Vanilla pod, cardamom powder, nutmeg powder or cinnamon powder
Soak almonds with skin in enough water for 8-9 hours.
Drain and discard the soaking liquid. Place the drained almonds in your blender or chutney jar. Add 1/2 a cup of fresh water and blend well for a few minutes. Add another 1/2 cup of water and blend in bursts, stopping to push back the almond paste from the sides into the blender, till you get a creamy paste.
Strain through a clean cheese cloth. If you like your coffee or chocolate drink creamy set aside 1/2 cup of the first strain of almond milk in a cup.
Place the residual almond paste in the cheesecloth back into the blender, adding 1/2 cup of water at a time and blend well. Strain again, into the same vessel. Repeat twice so that you are able to express as much milk as possible. You can reduce the water while blending the second and third time, so that you don’t end up having thin milk.
The residual almond paste can be set aside in a container in the refrigerator for use in cookies, cakes or breads. They add a nice flavour and texture.
So far you must have used 2.5 cups of water to make the almond milk. Dilute it with another cup or half-cup of water and mix well. Check consistency and thin it with more water if you like. Almond milk stays good for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
You can choose to add any of these flavours to the strained almond milk;
Vanilla seeds scraped from a vanilla pod, a pinch of cinnamon powder, a pinch of scraped nutmeg OR a pinch of cardamom powder to the almond milk after it is strained.
Usage of almond milk:
The freshly prepared almond milk is delicious drunk as it is even without a sweetener. If you would like it sweet, add a teaspoon of maple syrup or date syrup.
Never heat almond milk on full or medium flame, as it will break immediately.
At the most you can warm it a little on low heat.
How to make coffee or tea with almond milk:
Prepare the decoction, preferably light, and strain into a cup. I have noticed that very hot drinks tend to break on addition of almond milk. Seems it has something to do with acidity of coffee and may not happen with freshly brewed coffee. If that happens you just have to keep stirring and drink it up, I suppose. I wouldn’t.
Instead I let the decoction cool a tad and then add the unflavoured, first strain of almond milk slowly. Stir, check and add more if needed. This does not curdle. Curdling can happens with most non-dairy milks.
How to make hot chocolate with almond milk:
I had posted the method long back. Click on the picture below for the recipe:
Note: Almond milk is less thick than dairy milk generally.