How the heck do you squeeze an almond anyways? Well you're about to find out. For years I'd heard of the type that actually make their own almond milk at home. Its "soooo easy" they'd say, it tastes "sooo much better than store bought" they'd proclaim. I had read through different instructions a few times online, but whenever I got to the part about straining the pulp through a nut milk bag, my brain would always sort of shut off! Well I'm here to tell you they were right.
So do yourself a favor and pick up one of these blush-worthy, yet convenient hemp nut-milk bags. Because soon you too will be a nut milking convert.
I first decided to bite the bullet and try this whole nut-milking business when I gave up dairy during my first round of Whole30. One of the most challenging items to eliminate was half & half in my morning coffee.
I was raised in a household where good strong coffee is as important as the holy sacrament. I think my sister Amelialani and I started drinking coffee in our early middle school days when we found out that Mrs. Nolan allowed Francie and Neeley up to three cups of coffee a day with milk in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Our Mama takes her coffee with half-and-half exclusively, and therefore, so did we. Unlike my husband (@DarthClaydar), I'm not badass enough to take my coffee blacker than the blackest black.
I've tried various non-dairy alternatives in the past, but store-bought almond milk in coffee leaves a thin and chalky taste in my mouth. YUCK! Barista blends of almond creamers like Califa Farms, are often filled with cane sugar and preservatives. DOUBLE YUCK!
Enter homemade, raw, organic almond milk. Creamy and substantial enough to give my coffee enough viscosity and fullness of flavor, I am now able to enjoy my morning ritual and remain Whole30 compliant! Don't be daunted by this process, it really is as simple and rewarding as they say!
For this recipe suggest using organic raw unpasteurized almonds such as these from Terrasoul Superfoods. Terrasoul's nuts are fresh, crunchy, rich, and reasonably priced.
Place 1 cup of these delicious raw almonds into a medium glass Tupperware and cover with enough filtered water so that the almonds are fully submerged. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours but not more than 24 hours.
In the morning discard the soaking water, and rinse your plumped-up beauties in fresh water.
Place soaked almonds in a high-powered blender. I use a Ninja, (one day I'll upgrade to a Vita-Mix!)
Add 4 - 6 cups of filtered water to your blender depending on how much milk you wish to make. I fill the water up to the 6 cups line on my blender because that happens to fill my milk jar just perfectly. But a little less would be ok too. The less water you add, the thicker the milk should be. I wouldn't use less than 4 cups, but you can experiment.
There are several lovely additions you can add to really enhance your nut milk. At this point I usually throw in 2 to 3 pitted dates for a teensy bit of sweetness. One of the best parts about making nut milks is getting to use the left over pulp in future recipes. For example you can make almond meal to bread chicken, add to smoothies, as a base for raw energy balls, to thicken romesco etc.
Note: If you choose to add the dates at this point in the blend, then your meal will also have dates in it. This has never bothered me. If you prefer, you can add the dates after you strain out the almond milk in the next step.
Blend, blend, blend the contents for a good 3 minutes. I usually start on the low setting, then work my way progressively up to the highest setting. At which point Tidendog typically vacates the kitchen because he can't hang with that loud angry machine whirring about.
After the almonds have sufficiently broken down, and the milk looks thick and creamy, pour the contents out into the nut milk bag placed over a large bowl. I bought this hemp bag from Amazon and its nice an sturdy while still being easy to strain.
Now for the fun part! Hence the title of this post... you must squeeze, squish, and wring the bag to force the liquid milk from it. This is a great time to workout those biceps!
Now's your chance to really milk your proverbially cow (I mean almond.) Do your best to get it all out, but don't wipe yourself out. P.S. DarthClaydar insisted on this next photo. Oy vey!
At this point you can be all pau (hawaiian for done/finished) if you so choose. But if you're fancypants like me, which let's face it, you probably are, you'll dump your milk back into the blender, for a secondary blend in which you'll add vanilla bean and a pinch of salt. The reason I don't add the vanilla bean in the previous step is that most of the magical vanilla $$$ may not make it through the sieve, and it will end up inside the leftover pulp, instead of in the milk. Capiche?
The second most expensive spice to saffron, vanilla beans are a bit of a luxury. Vanilla beans are the seed pod of an orchid plant typically grown in Madagascar or Tahiti! This jar of Madecasse bean pods is around $11.00. Vanilla beans I find using real vanilla in my cooking makes me feel pretty fabulous, so I say go for it!
I am not sure if other people do this, but I tend to cut my pods into thirds and only use part of the pod at a time, a little goes a long way. They do tend to dry out if left in the cupboard too long though.
To get the magical beans out, you slice the pod lengthwise with a pairing knife, careful to slice through only one side. Spread open the pod and use the flat edge of your knife to scrape the beans out down the length of the pod. Inside each pod are oodles of little black specs of delicious vanilla, make sure you scrape out all that black paste.
Add the vanilla and a pinch of salt and re-blend.
Pour your delicious vanilla-speckled creation in to a glass jar to store in the fridge. Now that I am a nut milk convert, I invested in these easy to clean, wide-mouth beverage pitchers found on Amazon here: Bormioli 1.2 Liter Jug.
And because I love a good label, I suggest you differentiate your nut milks by variety. I often have cashew milk side-by-side with almond milk or coconut milk in my fridge. Masking tape and a sharpie will help you tell them apart.
Your fresh squeezed raw milk can be stored in the fridge for up to one week. If it begins to seperate just give it a good stir before each use.
Enjoy a glass over ice with a dash of cinnamon for a special treat, or consider adding fresh strawberries or raw cacao for fun flavored varieties!
Fresh Squeezed Raw Almond Milk
1 cup Terrasoul raw, unpasteurized, organic almonds
4 - 6 cups filtered water (depending on the size of your storage jar)
2 - 3 pitted dates (optional)
vanilla bean (optional)
pinch of salt (optional)
Soak 1 cup of almonds in a container with a good amount of filtered water, enough to submerge all the almonds fully. Place container covered in your refrigerator and soak overnight or up to 24 hours, but no less than 8 hours.
Rinse almonds well. Mix soaked almonds with 5 – 6 cups of fresh filtered water and 3 – 4 pitted dates.
Blend for around 3 minutes until almonds are broken down and the mixture looks smooth and creamy.
Strain mixture into a large bowl through a nut milk bag, cheese cloth or kitchen towel.
Put mixture back into blender with vanilla bean and pinch of salt (optional).
Pour fresh milk into glass jug or pitcher and store in fridge for up to one week.