Friday, February 8, 2013

Making Almond Milk & Sweet Almond Cream

Becoming a lactating mother changed my views on depending so heavily on diary cows for my family's beverage needs. Since we now limit our cow milk consumption (we mostly use it in cooking) I went searching for an alternative that I could make at home, and which also wasn't loaded with a lot of sugar. Soy makes my body feel bad (there are also concerns with feeding soy to boys because of the phytoestrogens it contains), so using soy milk for our dairy needs was out of the question.

There are many reasons to choose not to drink cow's milk (from both ethical and biological standpoints), but regardless of your reasons for choosing an alternative, it's good to know how to easily prepare nut milk: a raw, vegan, soy-free—and protein-rich—alternative.

The idea of nut milk appealed to me, since it is high in protein and it also has a flavor I enjoy. I got into making almond milk (and cream) at home and I haven't looked back. Even Jaymz (who previously wasn't too jazzed about the idea of a non-dairy milk beverage) really likes the almond milk I make at home. Unlike the store-bought version, homemade almond milk is much thicker. It also has a richer almond flavor which I like a lot.

Making milk out of nuts is something that still kind of boggles my mind. As the joke goes, "Where's the nipple on an almond, anyway?" (Ha ha, I know.)

Making almond milk and cream both follow the same simple process which can be completed in just a few minutes. They do take a little bit of advanced planning, though, because the almonds need to be soaked in water overnight before they're ready to be turned into liquids the next morning.


Soaking Almonds


This is pretty simple. If you've ever soaked beans or rice overnight before, you're already a pro at it. Important tip: Don't buy roasted almonds. It's my understanding that all almonds that come into the United States are blanched (as raw as we can get them here) to kill bacteria before they are sold. As long as you get almonds that aren't roasted (they'll be lighter in color and have a milder flavor) you're good to go.

Here's all you have to do:

  • Measure out the quantity of almonds you need for the recipe you're using (1 cup for each of the recipes I'm sharing here today) and pour them into a small mixing bowl. 
  • Cover the almonds with water, making sure that the water level comes up above the almonds by about an inch. 
  • Leave them to sit out overnight (8-12 hours). If you happen to live in a particularly hot climate, you might want to refrigerate them overnight, but this shouldn't be necessary if it's not very hot in your house.
  • In the morning, strain off the water in the bowl with the almonds. It will likely be a little bit cloudy or murky looking—this is totally normal. 
  • Rinse the almonds thoroughly, then proceed with making almond milk or sweet almond cream.

 

Almond Milk
(yield: about 3 cups)


Ingredients:
1 cup almonds (pre-soaked)
3 cups water, divided

Additional supplies:
Blender
Nut milk bag (or cheesecloth or a very fine strainer)
  1. Pour the pre-soaked almonds into the blender. (There's no need to re-measure the almonds after they have soaked. They will have gotten a little bigger, so they will measure more than a cup now, but it's still the right amount.)
  2. Add 1 cup of water to the almonds in the blender. 
  3. Put the lid on and blend on medium to high, until a thick pulp has formed. (If your blender is anything like mine, you may have to stop the blender a few times during this process to let air bubbles escape.)
    After blending for less than a minute, it will look like this.
    It's not ready yet!

    When the almond pulp is fairly uniform and smooth like this,
    you're ready for the next step.
  4. Add remaining 2 cups of water to the blender and blend until mixed thoroughly (another minute or so).
  5. Pour the mixture through the nut milk bag (or cheesecloth or a very fine strainer) into a pitcher or other storage container. You may find it easier to strain into something with a wide mouth (like a large glass measuring cup or mixing bowl) and then transfer the milk into a smaller container for storing in the refrigerator.
    (Look at me—I'm milking an almond!)
  6. Squeeze the almond meal through the milk bag or cheesecloth to get all of the milk to come out.
  7. Save the almond meal (which remains after straining) in the refrigerator for using in other recipes in the coming week. (I use almond meal in several delicious recipes, like this one for chocolate granola bars. Stay tuned next week for another granola bar option that utilizes almond meal!)

 

 

Sweet Almond Cream
(yield: about 1 cup)


Ingredients:
1 cup almonds (pre-soaked)
1 cup water
(feel free to keep it simple and stop with the above if you want, but for some sweetness, also add)
2 teaspoons raw honey (local, if possible) Note: many people who follow the vegan diet do not eat honey; omit (or at least ask first) if you're making this for vegans.

Additional supplies:
Blender
Nut milk bag (or cheesecloth or a very fine strainer)


  • Follow steps 1-3 above.
  • Add honey and blend through.
  • Follow steps 5-7 above.
  • Optionally, add one (or more!) of the following flavoring options to create a flavored cream:

If you're really lucky,
you might find yourself with a helper!
VANILLA
1 Tablespoon homemeade vanilla extract

HAZELNUT
2 teaspoons hazelnut extract

CINNAMON
1 teaspoon cinnamon
(I recommend adding cinnamon before straining, so you can blend it thoroughly with the blender which will help it to stay better suspended in the almond cream.)

CHOCOLATE
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder

PEPPERMINT MOCHA
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

My favorite flavor combination so far is vanilla cinnamon. Yum! Let me know which flavor is your favorite.

Your helper might even want to pitch in
with cleaning afterward. Pinkies up!
We use the almond cream in both coffee and teas, and I imagine it will be really delicious poured over fresh berries in the summertime. I haven't used it to make ice cream yet, but if you happen to try it before I have a chance, I would love to know about your experiment!

Fresh almond milk and cream are both wonderfully foamy, which makes for a luxurious latte-esque coffee experience.

Both the milk and cream will keep well for about a week in the refrigerator. If you find that you're not finishing your almond milk and cream quickly enough (or that they're disappearing too quickly!) feel free to adjust the portions to suit your needs. Almond milk is simply a 3 to 1 (water to almonds) ratio, and cream is a 1 to 1 ratio.





Six Ingredient Challenge buttonJoin the Six Ingredient Challenge hosted by Hobo Mama and Anktangle!

We're on a six-week path to eat more whole foods, guided by one simple rule: Buy foods with six ingredients or fewer. And we're blogging about our journey on the way.

To join in the Six Ingredient Challenge anytime during the six weeks, visit the sign-up page for a list of posts and to link up!


Linked up at Food on Fridays at Ann Kroeker, Friday Favorites at Simply Sweet Home, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, at Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for this have been meaning to try for a while. We buy hemp milk but it's getting expensive! Could i use a muslin to strain through? Thanks Louise

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I bet muslin would work really well. And if you like it, you could sew a couple of small bags out of it for ease of use! Let me know how it turns out for you!

      Delete
  2. I just ordered a nut filtration bag to start doing this! I'm so glad you shared your recipe!

    Also, I just bought that dinosaur shirt for Jemma - she is loving dinos these days and we couldn't pass it up. Max got a matching one too :)

    ReplyDelete

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