Posts Tagged ‘almond milk’

How Not to Make Almond Milk: An Unrecipe

October 12, 2015


Nut milks have become an important part of our diets, providing us with a plant based, lactose free alterative to regular milk. Almond milk, as well as soy and coconut milks are among the most popular choices of non-dairy milks.
In reading the label on the almond milk carton, I was shocked to see that it listed several ingredients, other than almonds, and water. There really isn’t any reason to have additives if you consume it quickly enough, as it is persishable. Carageenen and locust bean gum aren’t necessary ingredients to make almond milk, so why would we want to consume them? It is possible to make your own pure almond milk,( or any other nut milk ) and with the right tools, it also easy. I made a colossel mess the other day trying my hand at making homemade almond milk, so you don’t have to. Don’t worry, I got this one down now!

Homemade Almond Milk:

Soak unsalted, raw almonds in enough water to cover them fully and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. The almonds will get soft, but shouldn’t stay soaking long enough to sprout. We recommend using filtered water.

Drain the water and rinse the almonds with clean water. This will rinse off the phytic acid which has accumulated in the water, and  inhibits the body from absorbing nutrients.

It all went well up to this point. Then all hell broke loose!

Place the nuts in either the blender, or the bowl of the food processor. [*Tip #1: If you don’t have a Vitamix or other high powered fancy blender, use the food processor. I used both, which started the messy portion of this project]. Add clean, preferably filtered water. For 1 cup of nuts, add 2 cups of water or more. Next time I will err on the “more side” and probably use closer to 2.5-3 cups. Process for about 3 or 4 minutes until the nuts are ground into a fine meal, and the water is milky white.

SPOILER ALERT: Here is where the really big mess comes in. Pay attention, so this won’t happen to you.

Strain the almonds into a bowl, using a sieve lined with a cheesecloth, or a nut bag. [Tip#2 I didn’t have a cheesecloth, but I did have a lot of sterile gauze from a previous injury, so I used that. Don’t. Just don’t. The meal squirted out of the holes, and splattered on the counters, walls, floor and me. It is thick and gloppy and has the ability to go projectile. It is not pleasant to clean off of everything it spattered on. Which was pretty much everything.] Although the fine sieve will filter out the almonds, you need to have a cloth that you can wrap the almonds in and twist and squeeze to get the liquid out. I ended up using a kitchen towel, which was more absorbant than you want it to be. Do yourself a favor and invest in a nutbag, or at the very least a cheesecloth if you plan to do this. It will make a big difference not only in the mess department, but also in the yield of the almond milk. More on that in a minute.

Once you have extracted the liquid from the almond puree, pour it into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, ala a Mason jar, and sweeten as desired. You can add a little agave, honey or maple syrup to give it some flavor, or just leave it plain. You should get about 2 cups of milk from 1 cup of almonds.
I used a 16 oz. bag of nuts and due to my ineptitude, I only got a full Mason Jar of milk, with a little extra to spare. That is until I pulled the funnel out of the full jar and knocked it over, spilling the entire contents down the sink. That left me with about 2 gulps of almond milk and a colossal mess.

Homemade almond milk has a very short shelf life of about 2 days in the refrigerator. Make only what you can consume. All those additives in the store bought type makes it last longer.

If you do this properly, you will have quite a bit of ground almond meal. You can store this in the fridge for a few days, and it is a great addition to smoothies, hot cereal, or an additive in muffins and sweet breads. It has healthy fats, protien, some bulk, and a nutty taste. It can also be dried by placing it on a baking sheet in the oven at a low temperature for a few hours until it is completly dry. Dried almond meal can be used in baked goods and in some cases can be a substitute for all or some of the flour in a recipe.

Verdict: I would do it again, and go straight to the food processor to grind the nuts, since my blender was not up to the job.  I would use a bit more water so that the meal is not so thick that it is like wet cement and hard to strain. You don’t want it to be too watery, but a little more liquid would have helped. I will buy a nut bag. It is made for this purpose, and was likely designed by some poor sod who had an experience similar to mine. I had never heard of this invention before, but for about $6 bucks, it could be well worth it. I will be careful when removing the extremely long tubed funnel from the jar so I don’t knock it over again. But I am not one to cry over spilled milk, although I may have said a few choice words I prefer not to publish here, I am willing to try, try again. I think the second time could be the charm!

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Milking It

October 9, 2012

Recently, a friend asked my opinion on alternative milks. There are so many options out there right now, that it is hard to figure out which is the right milk for your diet.

Cow’s milk is the first type we think of. Even that comes in a variety of versions, from skim, 1% and 2% milk fat, lactose free, and regular, not to mention, organic, conventional and antibiotic and hormone free.

Cow’s milk contains high levels of calcium and vitamin D, which are essential to bone health. It is also a good source of protein.

Regular milk contains about 150 calories per cup, and half of those calories come from fat, and cholesterol. Skimmed or fat free versions, offer the same benefits, and significantly fewer calories; about 86 per cup.

For those who are not on a dairy free diet, or are lactose intolerant, fat free or 1% milk seems the way to go. Antibiotic and hormone free is a non-negotiable in my book.

Soy milk gained prominence several years ago, as a good plant based alternative to cow’s milk. It is fortified to have the same levels of protein, calcium, vitamins A and D, and potassium. Because it is a plant product, it has no cholesterol and is usually low in fat. However, many soy milks are artificially flavored, which means there is a wide swing in calorie and sugar counts. While the plain versions pack only about 70-80 calories per cup, the flavored and sweetened types can have as much as 160 calories per cup and 19 grams of sugar. It is a great alternative for those who cannot tolerate dairy, or are vegan; just beware the artificial sweeteners or high sugar contents.

Almond milk seems to be the current milk option of choice. It contains no cholesterol, or lactose. It also contains much less protein and calcium than the other milks. It is a great source of iron, vitamin E and omega 6 fatty acids. Nuts have been linked to lower cholesterol and reduced risk of heart disease. However, not all commercial almond milks are filled with almonds. There are also lots of sweetened and flavored versions on the market that add calories and sugar. The average cup of unsweetened almond milk has only 30-40 calories. It is a good option for those looking to avoid lactose, or dairy in general, or use a lower calorie, vegan substitute for cow’s milk.

Coconut milk is another vegan choice that is gaining popularity. It has only 50 calories per cup and no cholesterol. It does not contain the same amount of protein and calcium as cow’s milk, but does have some healthy fatty acids not found in other milks. It is dairy and lactose free, and like the others, comes in a variety of flavors.

Rice milk is another alternative, with lower levels of protein and calcium than cow’s milk. Its relatively mild taste makes it less necessary to buy a flavored variety. Plain rice milk contains 113 calories per cup, making it the most caloric of the plant based milks. It is good for those who have allergies to soy, dairy, or nuts, and cannot tolerate some of the other options.

When looking for the perfect type of milk, choose something that tastes good and suits your dietary concerns. Remember that while cow’s milk is a great source of protein, calcium and vitamin D, there are lots of other ways to get those elements in your diet. A balanced diet gets its nutrition from a variety of sources, and is not reliant on one food group to provide the healthy daily requirements that are a key to a good diet.

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