Making homemade almond milk is so simple and affordable that it’s really unnecessary to buy it in the grocery store. It’s worth trying to make at home, at least once, so you understand the difference between homemade almond milk and shelf-stable almond milk from a carton. When you make almond milk at home, stripped to its barre essentials (nuts, water, and little salt), it becomes more than just almond water.
However, my first couple attempts at making almond milk at home weren’t all that successful. My almond milk definitely didn’t taste “heavenly”, or “delicious” as everyone claimed homemade almond milk to be. It definitely couldn’t stand up to the store-bought variety I was used to buying. On the contrary, the almond milk was sour-ish, grainy, and separated as soon as I poured it into my tea. After A LOT of testing and experimenting, I finally figured out how to make my almond milk taste unbelievably good.
If you’ve been making almond milk at home for a while and you’re happy with the results, that’s great! Keep doing what you’re doing, But if you’ve been disappointed with your homemade almond milk and went back to store-bought, I encourage you to read on. Perhaps you’ll find some of the following tips helpful and give your homemade almond milk one more try. I promise. This time, it will taste “heavenly” and “delicious”.
Tips for Making the Best Almond Milk
Raw fresh almonds – you really need to start with raw almonds. Roasted nuts are dry and brittle, making for a less-creamy milk. It also highlights their bitter undertones, whereas raw nuts are sweeter. Also, do not peel the almonds. I’ve tried making almond milk from blanched almonds, but found that keeping the skins on actually helps to reduce the grittiness of the almond milk. Counter intuitive, I know!
Remember that the taste of almond milk reflects the taste of the almonds. So get high-quality, organic, fresh almonds. If your almond milk tastes sour or the flavor is too intense and unpleasant, the almonds are most likely the culprit. Nuts go bad faster than you’d think, and nowhere is that “off” flavor more apparent than in a batch of nut milk. I used to have this problem all the time when I was buying almonds from a large supermarket. Ever since I started buying almonds in a local health food store, the results are incomparable. So if you don’t like the taste of your homemade almond milk, try buying nuts from a different store.
To keep raw nuts fresh longer, store them in the freezer or in a cool, dark cupboard in an airtight container.
Fresh filtered water – since almond milk is mostly water, clearly the water you use will have an impact on the taste of your almond milk. At the same time, there are some regions with exceptional tap water. So, it really comes down to your specific geographical source as to whether filtering offers any real benefits. My tap water has an alkali-esque quality in the aftertaste compared to filtered water which has a much brighter and sweeter flavor to it. As for my almond milk, the results were similar. The almond milk made with filtered water was a little sweeter and acidic in taste while the tap water produced almond milk slightly more basic with a metallic aftertaste.
Soak – raw nuts need to soak for at least 12 hours before blending. Soaking saturates the nut from the inside-out, resulting in a smoother, creamier texture. It also yields more liquid, because fully saturated nuts blend better and leave less “pulp” behind. And if you’re still not convinced, think about all the health benefits of soaking nuts. Soaking helps to get rid of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors found in nuts, increasing the nutrition of almonds significantly. I highly recommend soaking the almonds for about 12 hours in a cool/cold place. I soak my almonds in the fridge to make sure they remain nice and fresh.
Drain & rinse – make sure that you discard the soaking water and rinse the almonds really really well before adding them to the blender. Also, once the almonds have soaked, they can’t stay out of the water for too long, even if they are in the fridge. They go sour really fast. So blend the rinsed almonds right away.
Blend on high – high-speed blenders are the best when it comes to making nut milks. They blend so thoroughly that they break down cell walls, making the almond milk incredibly smooth and creamy. The ratio of water to almonds is totally up to you. Start with a ratio of 1 cup almonds to 2 cups water. If you’d like a thinner milk, use more water next time; for thicker milk, use less. Thin and light for your breakfast cereal, creamy and rich for your coffee, or mildly thick to enjoy straight from the glass – you can make the exact consistency you like. My go-to ratio is 1:4.
Strain – it’s up to you how much you want to strain the milk. If you plan on cooking with the milk (say, using it for curries or for simmering whole grains), you don’t even need to strain it. If you want to use it for your morning granola or just to drink it straight from a glass, strain it through a nut milk bag. I used to use cheesecloth, but didn’t find them very practical. It always came apart (unless I doubled it or tripled it), and was impossible to wash. Nut milk bags work so much better because they are already bag-shaped, don’t stretch over time, are resistant to picking up stains or food odors, and can be machine washed.
Heat it up – the one “problem” with homemade almond milk is that is has no viscosity. Straight from the blender, it has the perfect flavor, but none of the creaminess you expect from milk. The main reason for this is that this milk doesn’t contain any stabilizers and emulsifiers to help it maintain a uniform consistency and emulate the thick milk. That’s why homemade almond milk separates as it sits in the refrigerator. The good news is that there is a way to naturally thicken and homogenize homemade almond milk. Bringing the almond milk to just under a boil for a few minutes permanently increases its viscosity. While I would love to take credit for this “discovery”, you’ll have to thank Andrew from One Ingredient Chef for this.
Give it some flavor – craving sweet almond milk? Use a date and some vanilla. Like the chocolate version better? Add some raw cacao or cocoa powder. Personally, I like my almond milk simple, pure, with nothing added.
Don’t toss the pulp – there are so many things you can do with the pulp (aka almond meal). You can blend it into a smoothie, bake with it, toast it up in the oven and sprinkle on top of oatmeal, or dehydrate it and use it as breading. If you absolutely cannot use it, put it in the compost.
Homemade almond milk undeniably tastes better. It’s also much healthier (no ingredients such as carrageenan, xantham gum, guar gum, locust bean gum, or gellan gum) and cheaper (where I live 32 ounces of homemade almond milk averages at about $1.60 whereas store-bought ranges from $2 to $3 per 32-ounce carton).
If you try this recipe, please, let me know. I would love to know how it turned out for you.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Blender (Vitamix Po 750) | 2. Measuring Cup (2 Cups, Glass) | 3. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel) | 4. Nut Milk Bag (12″x 12″, Ellie’s Best, Nylon) | 5. Mesh Strainers (Set of 3, Cuisinart, Stainless Steel) | 6. Mixing Bowls (Set of 3, Pyrex, Glass) | 7. Milk Bottle (33.5 Oz., Libbey, Glass)
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