I grew to love almond milk in college, back when I discovered it on the shelf at the small market where I worked. I enjoy the taste of almond milk, and love adding it to smoothies, oatmeal or pastries. Lately there's been debate over just how healthy it is, but if you're lactose intolerant, the fact remains that it's a great alternative to cow's milk.
The hubs and I have changed our diet to exclude processed or preservative laden foods, and focus on all natural foods. Unfortunately, the shelf stable almond milk is full of preservatives, so that smugness once felt at our superior shopping cart selections disappeared quickly once we began reading labels.
Good news: Making your own almond milk is incredibly easy and takes not more than 20 minutes of actual work. Bonus, you get delicious almond meal in the process.
Definitely use organic almonds and filtered water, and you will be on your way to delicious almond milk for your morning smoothie.
Ingredients: 1 cup organic, fresh almonds 3 cups filtered water (for soaking) 3 cups filtered water (for blending) Cinnamon (if desired) Vanilla (if desired) Liquid Stevia (if desired)
Procedure: Step 1: Rinse off your organic almonds and soak in filtered water for 2 days. You can soak for 1 day, but 2 days produces a creamier almond milk.
Step 2: After 2 days, drain off the soaking water, and place almonds into your blender. Add 3 fresh cups of filtered water and blend together. Stop the blender and scrape down. Blend again.
Step 3: Place a copious amount of cheesecloth in a fine-mesh strainer. Pour in half the almond milk and almond pulp. Wrap and squeeze all the almond milk out. Place the almond pulp on a sheet pan. Repeat with the second half of almond milk and almond pulp.
Step 4: At this point, mix in cinnamon, vanilla and liquid stevia, should you desire these flavors. (Also, I love adding a bit of cardamom to mine...heaven!)
Jar up your almond milk and store in the fridge for 2-3 days. Due to the freshness, and lack of preservatives, the almond milk doesn't last too long. Make in small batches and make often.
In a low temperature oven, dry out the almond pulp to make almond meal, until dry (about 4 hours - my oven runs cooler). Store almond meal in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.
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Rachel Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, and single-handedly keeps her local cheese shop in business. You can get more information about her pastry at www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or on her blog at www.croissantinthecity.com.