I turned my nose up at vegan milks for years. Real milk has protein and calcium, it’s affordable, and tastes great. Why mess with a good thing?
Then I met up with the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Sometimes I could eat dairy products without consequence and sometimes I would be doubled over in pain. It was like a dietary game of Mumblety peg
Almond milk sparked my interest when I found out it only has 30 calories per cup, is low in carbs and tastes pretty good. It boasts a good serving of calcium, but only because it is added artificially. This is not a drink for babies or kids unless the diet has other rich sources of fats or protein.
Almond milk makes good smoothies, custards, cream soups, cream gravy, and fettuccini sauce. It costs about $3 for a half gallon, or $6 a gallon. The cost is about 50% more than regular milk, and recently there has been some concern about the additive carrageenan in the more affordable almond milks. My children do not show signs of lactose intolerance or milk allergy so I do not feed them almond milk.
It’s not hard to make homemade almond milk and homemade costs quite a bit less than store bought–PLUS Almond flour is a by-product of almond milk production. That’s good news for low carb and gluten free bakers everywhere.
At Costco, almonds are $15 for 3 pounds. It takes 2 oz of almonds to make a half gallon of milk. So one 3 lb bag of almonds makes 24 half gallons (plus almond flour) at $.62 each. If you want fortified almond milk that has the same nutrition as milk, you will want to add 8 calcium, magnesium, vitamin d3 tablets.
Adding vitamins adds to the cost slightly. These tablets* are $.07 each and I would need 8 of them to create a homemade nutritional profile comparable to store bought almond milk. Homemade fortified almond milk is $1.18 per half gallon vs $3.28 for store bought for a savings of $2.10.
Here’s how to make your own almond milk.
Measure 1/4 cup of almonds into a class cup and cover with twice as much water. 1/4 cup of almonds makes 1 quart of milk. 1/2 cup makes half a gallon–the same as in the typical grocery store carton. Let stand for 8 hours or overnight.
After 8 hours, drain your almonds, then place in a blender. Add a generous pinch of sea salt and any supplements or flavors (like vanilla and honey or stevia) you are adding. I used 4 calcium tablets so each cup of milk would have 30% RDA of calcium, plus magnesium and vitamin D3.
Cover with just enough fresh water to keep the blades running smoothly. Too much water will allow the almonds to get away from the blades and not grind as fine.
Blend for a couple of minutes until the nuts are all ground up into tiny bits.
Strain though a nut bag (I use a huge straining bag that I purchased for Kombucha.) Amazon* has nut bags also, or you could use cheese cloth, a clean flour sack towel, or even a coffee filter. They all work, but the nut bag is fastest and easiest. At the end, give the mass of ground nuts a good squeeze to get as much water out as possible.
Pour the strained milk into a canning jar.
Pour in enough fresh water to make a quart (or half gallon–whatever you used enough nuts for.) My water is cloudy because I used it to rinse out the blender and cup I strained into so I could get all the goody.
Now scrape the nut meal out of your straining bag (or whatever you used.) Spread it onto a silicone mat, wax paper or parchment. Let it dry thoroughly. (In the dry weather, mine dries overnight.) If it’s humid, you can spread it on a cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours. Then turn off the oven and let it stay in there for a few hours more. Transfer the dry stuff back to a clean dry blender cup and pulverize it super fine. Use it as you would any almond flour.
Q. How long does the almond milk last?
A. If you are using raw almonds it will go “sour” in 3-4 days. Costco’s almonds are blanched and the milk lasts longer. I’ve gone a week and it was still fine. It’s never lasted longer than that, so I can’t say when it sours.
Q. Shouldn’t you remove the skins from the almonds first?
A. Who’s got time for that? The milk tastes great either way. With the skins on the almonds, the almond flour will have flecks of color in it, compared to commercial almond flour which is just white. I haven’t noticed a difference in performance between the two flours. And the almond milk comes out white either way.
Q. I don’t like almonds. Can I do this with other nuts?
A. Yes. Cashews and sunflower seeds work especially well. Let me know if you try it :).
More questions? Concerns? Put them below. Have you ever made your own almond milk?
* P.S. The Amazon links are for your benefit only and are not affiliate links. As a Missouri resident I am not eligible to be an Amazon Affiliate.