Sunday, February 21, 2010

Making Almond Milk

I ate nothing but raw foods for over a year (around 2007-2008). I could write oodles about that experience, but I'll try to sum it up quickly - I never felt better. When done properly, it's excellent. I was totally raw, but I think a better choice is similar to what Natalia Rose recommends - she eats healthy cooked food at dinner.

While going raw, I learned a lot! It was life changing. I've slipped - well, maybe crashed - this last year and I'm ready to get back to healthier ways. This past year I had too much on my plate and when it came to eating, I made choices that were easy. Easy is not generally healthy.

One thing I learned is how to make almond milk. It's easy. It's delicious and has no preservatives or ingredients you can't pronounce.

First, soak raw almonds in water. I use a measuring cup that holds 2 cups. I put in 1 cup of almonds, then fill the measuring cup with water. Let it soak for 12 hours. This starts the sprouting process.

Once the soaking time is completed, rinse the almonds well. I have a mini colander that is perfect for this.

Put 3 to 4 cups of water in a blender. Add the almonds and blend, blend, blend til there are no big hunks left. I have a great blender - Blendtec. It's very much like a Vitamix. Both are around the same quality and price. These blenders are great, but you can do just fine with a lower priced blender. I used a $60 blender to make almond milk for ages.

The next step - straining - seems intimidating, but once you figure out what works best, it will seem quite easy. The milk has to be strained away from the pulp (did I phrase that correctly?). Many people use cheesecloth. Cheesecloth is hard to wash out & use over and over, so that's not my choice. I have also used a cotton napkin. That's OK but there's something better - paint strainers! They are a looser weave than napkins so it's easier to squeeze the milk out. They have elastic around the edges so you don't need a rubber band to secure them around the pitcher. They are cheap and easy to find (most paint or hardware stores). They last a good long while - just wash them out after each use.

Not all of the milk will drip out on it's own. You need to squeeze out a good bit. I lift out the strainer and carefully wring it out into the pitcher. On a good day when the moon and all the stars are aligned perfectly, I don't drip any outside of the pitcher.
You are left with almond pulp in the strainer. Some people add that pulp to baking recipes. I haven't found a way to use them that I like, but in truth I haven't put enough effort into looking.

Update! I just came across this post with a bread recipe using almond pulp. I wasn't even looking for information on almond milk or bread or pulp. I was just browsing some favorite blogs. There are no coincidences...

In the pitcher, you are left with delicious almond milk. You can use it plain. If you prefer it a little sweet, put it back in the blender with 3 dates and a little bit of vanilla and blend again. No need to strain. You can also add chocolate to make chocolate milk.

If you used 3 cups of water when first blending, you end up with a quart of almond milk. I use 4 cups of water and get more milk. I'm sure it's less rich, but in truth, I can't tell the difference.

We don't ever buy real milk. If I don't make almond milk, I purchase almond milk. I use the almond milk for cereal, baking and whatever. I add it to my tea and it's fabulous. Rudy drinks it at meals. It's very nutritious. It really doesn't require much hands on time once you get the hang of it. And it's one more way that I am reducing the chemical overload found in processed grocery items.

Update: Here's another "there are no coincidences" moment. I came across this post on making almond milk. She makes hers a little differently. The main difference is that she soaks the dates with the almonds. I plan to try that. She also soaks them for less time, which is good if you are in a hurry. I prefer longer soak times for more sprouting nutrition. In fact, I've considered soaking for longer (up to 24 hours with a rinse in between). Her post has good pictures and explanations. I love reading about alternative methods. I also love coming across people who are kindred spirits. I love my friends and family, but many of them think I'm a bit of a nut. Sometimes I wish I had more fellow nuts in my life. With blogging, no matter what kick I'm on, I can find others who are interested in the same things.

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