Most of us grew up drinking cow’s milk, but if you’re lactose intolerant, it’s not the best option for your digestion. Almond milk is a highly nutritious alternative that boasts a sweet, mellow flavor but lacks the aftertaste that soy and goat’s milk leave in your mouth. Not only does almond milk provide plenty of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals–vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, iron, and zinc to name a few–it has more calcium than cow’s milk. Compare an eight ounce glass: Almond milk has 45% off the recommended daily allowance of calcium (450 grams) whereas cow’s milk has 30% (or 300 grams). It’s also free of saturated fats and cholesterol and low calorie.
You’ve likely seen almond milk on grocery store shelves but they’re not as tasty and nutritious as homemade. In a few easy steps, you can make your own delicious almond milk–all you need is a blender and a mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Here’s how to make your own almond milk at home.
Step 1: Easy Prep the Night Before
Place 1½ cups of raw almonds in a container of filtered water overnight. Look for raw, organic almonds. These are easiest to find at a farmer’s market, but if that’s not possible and you get your almonds at the grocery store, be sure to look for nuts that are not roasted to get the most nutrients. Aim for 8-12 hours of soaking and see that the container is roomy enough that the nut to water ratio is 1:2.
Place your container of water-covered almonds in the refrigerator. The nuts will absorb most of the water and plump-up while you sleep. The next morning your almonds will have expanded to about two cups. The soak-water will be tinted brown and will have some white sediment. Simply rinse all the water and sediment away thoroughly before you start making your milk.
Step 2: Blend Your Milk
• 2 to 2 ¼ cups rinsed, soaked almonds
• 4 ½ cups filtered water
• Pinch of salt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1-3 pitted soft dates (optional if you want a sweeter milk)
Place all of the ingredients into a regular 8-cup blender and blend on high for one minute. Medjool dates are soft enough to blend without soaking in water. But if you use a harder textured date, like a honey date, you will need to soak the date for an hour to soften it up. Otherwise it will stick to the blender’s blades.
Your blender will be full of white, frothy almond milk with a lot of ‘almond pulp’ (the small pulverized pieces of almonds and almond skins).
Step 3: Strain and Drink Up!
You can use this thick, pulpy milk as is–it’s great in a fruit smoothie. Or you can remove the pulp by pouring the milk through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. (You can also use a nut milk bag. These fine mesh sacks are sold in most health food stores and are great for getting the silkiest milks.)
This recipe yields about 50 oz of almond milk. Homemade nut milks will last 4 days in your refrigerator. You can use almond milk just like any other milk in most recipes that call for dairy milk!
Brigitte Center of Brigitte’s Naturally Alive is certified in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University. She teaches ‘Raw Food for Real Life’ un-cooking classes, helps people jump-start healthy eating habits with a green smoothie delivery service, and writes the blog Raw Food Living Diet.