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 bare essentials (nuts, water, and a 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 after a few hours of sitting in the fridge. 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 Homemade Almond Milk
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.
Since almond milk is mostly water, clearly the water you use will also 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.
Are you into flavored milks? For vanilla almond milk, add one or two Medjool dates and a splash of vanilla. For chocolate almond milk, add a few Medjool dates and some cocoa powder.
Homogenized Almond Milk
The one “problem” with homemade plant-based milk is that the fat from the almonds and the water we added separate over time. This is because fat and water do not mix. The solution to this problem is an emulsifier. I use sunflower lecithin, which is a phospholipid-based dietary supplement beneficial for the brain and the nervous system. In this recipe it acts as a fat emulsifier. In other words, it brings the fat from the almonds and the water together, holding them in suspension. No separation as the almond milk sits in the fridge.
For best results, soak the raw nuts 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. I soak my almonds in the fridge to make sure they remain nice and fresh. When I’m ready to make the milk, I discard the soaking water and rinse the almonds really really well before adding them to the blender. Also, once the almonds have been 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.
High-speed blenders are a must-have 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 (145 g) almonds to 2 cups (480 ml) water. If you’d like a thinner milk, use more water next time; for thicker milk, use less. My go-to ratio is somewhere between 1:3 and 1:4.
Other than playing with the nut to water ratio, there is one more technique for changing the thickness of homemade plant-based milk. Bringing the almond milk to just under a boil for a few minutes permanently increases its viscosity. In fact, this is how I make plant-based coffee creamer (half-and-half) at home.
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 the milk 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.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Blender (Vitamix 5200) | 2. Measuring Cup (2 Cups, Glass) | 3. Mixing Bowls(Set of 3, Pyrex, Glass) | 4. Mesh Strainers(Set of 3, Cuisinart, Stainless Steel) | 5. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel) | 6. Nut Milk Bag (12″x 12″, Ellie’s Best, Nylon) | 7. Milk Bottle (33.5 Oz., Libbey, Glass)
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Unsweetened Almond Milk
Vanilla Almond Milk
- Blend the soaked almonds, filtered water, sunflower lecithin, salt, and any optional add-ins in a high-speed blender until all the almonds have broken down and the mixture becomes frothy. A Vitamix can handle a full batch, but you might have to do more batches with smaller blender.
- Pour the contents of the blender into a nut milk bag and strain it. Squeeze every last bit out of the pulp. All you should have left is nearly a dried ball of almond meal.
- If you'd like to thicken the milk without increasing the nut to water ratio, pour quarter of the almond milk into a large saucepan. Turn up the heat and stir constantly until the milk reaches a high temperature (right before a boil). Once the milk has thickened (it will happen almost instantaneously), remove it from heat and mix it with the rest of the almond milk.
- Transfer the milk to a jar or a bottle and refrigerate. The milk will keep for up to 4 days, though best when fresh.
**Lecithin is a fat emulsifier, so it brings the fat from the nuts and the water together, holding them in suspension.
***Save the leftover almond meal and toast it in the oven. You can then blend it into a smoothie, bake with it, toast it in the oven and sprinkle on top of oatmeal, or dehydrate it and use it as breading.
****Prep time does not include soaking the almonds (12 hours).