I should have expected it.
"How do you milk an almond?"
Seriously, I never thought I'd be making almond milk, I have said over and over, I don't like almond milk, it tastes like nuts and milk isn't supposed to taste like nuts.
Or so I thought.
A few years ago, I thought I couldn't live without my milk...I would drink a gallon a day if I could. I love milk.
Simply. Love. Milk.
But, when my allergy and food sensitivity blood work came back... there it was on the foods to avoid list...milk.
I was depressed. But I gave it up. I was willing to give anything up to feel better and for the headaches to stop. You do what you have to do.
I learned to love Rice Dream Milk...hey, you take what you can.
However as time went by, I picked the milk habit back up, then after a time I realized I needed the lactose free so I went that route.
Then we were introduced to the Whole30 plan. No dairy, no sugars, no grains, no additives. It's an awesome plan designed to reset your system and rid your body of all the toxins and junk we've been shoveling in for most of our lives.
No dairy means no milk, lactose free or not. So I had to come up with something, No Rice Dream either, since rice is a no-no on the Whole30.
Almonds are a yes-yes.
I searched until I found the basic process for making the almond milk.
Most recipes call for some sort of ingredient that has sugar involved, I had no vanilla beans and vanilla flavoring has either corn syrup or sugar, so I left that out.
Here's my recipe, for the milk and for a richer version you can use for coffee creamer.
2 cups plain almonds(not salted or roasted)
2-4 dates, no sugar added
3 1/2 - 4 cups water
Sea salt to taste
Most recipes call for 1 or 1 1/2 cups almonds for this amount of water, but I wanted mine a little richer. It's a matter of preference, the 1 1/2 cups was a little weak tasting to me.
Cover the almonds and soak for 8 hours, if you don't have this much time, they will do ok, I soaked the first batch for about 4 hours.
Drain and rinse the almonds.
Add almonds and 3 1/2 cups water to blender. If your blender is large enough, add all four cups water, if not, you can add the last 1/2 cup later.
Add 2-4 dates, depending on amount of sweetness you want and the size of the dates, you'll want to experiment with this. I used 3 large dates. If you're using a vanilla bean, chop and add with the dates. If you're not worried about the sugar, you can just use some vanilla extract. You can also choose to just leave the vanilla flavor out, it's still very good without it.
Add sea salt and blend on high for one minute.
This is what you have after blending.
Now the fun begins!
I take a large strainer and strain the blended mess....there will be a lot of pulp. I strain back and forth several times from measuring bowl to blender until there is very little pulp left in the mix. Be sure and rinse your containers and strainer each time to cut down on the pulp left in the milk. Be sure and have a bowl sitting close by to dump the pulp in each time.
Then I strain it through a cheesecloth, squeezing to get all the milk out.
You have just milked an almond...or in this case, a bunch of almonds.
If you've only used part of your water and you want to add more, this is the time. Do a taste test, if it's too rich, add a little water.
Shake well to mix before drinking, as the milk will separate a bit.
The process is exactly the same, you simply reduce the amount of water.
For 2 cups of soaked almonds, use 3 cups of water, you really can't use less, you won't have any milk to speak of. If you're a person who has to have some sweet in your coffee, you might increase the dates, this is the only sweet you're going to get in this recipe, unless you're using vanilla flavoring. However, if you're going totally sugar free, the vanilla flavoring is a no-no.
This is what you're left with, this is actually what I saved after making about four batches. You can add it to your compost or dehydrate it and make almond meal, an excellent alternative for flour. This is totally gluten free too! It's a win-win!
UPDATE: After making several recipes of this today, and using six cups of almonds, I was about to set the large bowl of pulp aside to dry a bit before placing in the dehydrator when I had a brainstorm.
...no worries..the damage was minimal.
I put the pulp, in small amounts, back in the blender, added water and gave it another spin in the blender. After re-blending all the pulp, I had another almost half-gallon of good almond milk. So, if you have the time, run it through the blender again before discarding or drying. You get double for your money!
The pulp on the dehydrator racks.
I have one of these round stacking dehydrators and wasn't sure how it would work, but the pulp is moist enough that you can clump it up and it doesn't fall through the holes too bad. The bottom is solid so it will catch any that does. The almond meal process is a matter for another day and another blog.