The first time I tasted homemade almond milk, I was surprised on so many levels. I couldn’t believe how pleasantly rich it was or how much it tasted like actual almonds (not sure what I thought it would taste like). I still can’t believe how easy it is to make, and how many different nuts and seeds can be made into rich and nutritious milk-resembling substances. Besides its awesome nutrition specs, it is vegan, free of the additives found in the store-bought versions, a functional cow’s milk replacement and delicious in its own right.
Other nuts make great nut milks too, so be creative and mix it up in order to change up the different nutrients you are getting. The fattier the nut, the fattier the milk (walnuts, pecans, cashews), although you can thin it out with extra water.
Although exceedingly easy to make, you do need to plan a little bit in advance. Your almonds or other nuts need to be soaked in pure water with a splash of something acidic (I use raw apple cider vinegar). The soaking process removes the enzyme inhibitor, which makes the nuts easier to digest and the nutrients more bio-available (apparently this happens in nature when it rains). It also softens the nuts, which makes them easier to blend up. After 12 hours or so of soaking, strain off the water and give them a good rinse. Then simply throw them into your blender, add pure water (1 cup of nuts to 3 cups of water) and blend on high. If you have a high power blender this will take 1-2 minutes, if not, it may take a little bit longer.
Strain the newly blended milk through either a nut milk bag (these exist – look for unbleached ones made of natural fibers like linen or hemp) or a fine-mesh sieve. Squeeze or press as much milk out as possible. Then stare sadly at the remaining pulp, wishing that it tasted better and try to think of better ideas on how to use it up besides feeding it to your dog like a lazy person.
Recipe-wise, this is as bare-bones as it gets for nut milk, and is neutral enough to use everywhere that you used to use milk – poured over a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, or a bowl of fruit and hemp hearts, added to a smoothie, or simply drink it as it is. Blend it with a couple of dates and some cinnamon, or a pear and some cardamom for a treat.
If you make this with cashews or hemp hearts, you won’t have to strain it, because there will be little to no pulp (extra hemp heart bonus – they don’t need to be soaked). I usually add the stronger tasting nuts and seeds (ie – brazil nuts – one of the best sources of selenium, a mineral well known for preventing the recurrence and progression of cancer, but pretty distinct in flavour) to other milder nuts such as almonds or walnuts, to balance out the flavour.
It only lasts for a few days in the fridge, so drink up!
As for what to do with the pulp….. It sounds like the kind of thing that would taste really great in any number of recipes, right? But it’s really the texture that kind of sucks. It is very mealy and adds an uncomfortable feel to whatever it is added to (in too large a volume). That being said, it’s ok in small amounts in a smoothie or cracker recipe and so I usually freeze it or dehydrate it, out of guilt, for future use. I’ll let you know if I come up with something more inspiring.