Homemade: Raw Almond Milk

Yesterday, I got it in my head to make almond milk. I know I have serious problems with experimentation when a mere mention in a conversation with my Mom had me thinking that I could make it at home. In fact, most of today was consumed with kitchen experiments, some of which will have to wait until another day to be told.

It all began bright an early, or kind of dark and stormy, at 6:30, since that is what time my self has decided to wake up every single day regardless of what time I go to bed. Before bed I soaked my raw almonds, in filtered water under refrigeration, so I didn't even need my first cup of coffee fully ingested before beginning this project.

Almond milk is of course raw vegan, and really is another thing so easy to make that you will wonder why you would ever buy it again. One cup of almonds and 4 cups of water will produce nearly a quart, so very little effort produces a stellar result, and not to mention a more economical (and environmental, since you have no packaging) choice, and you can use a 1:4 ratio to make as much or as little as you like. I also like that I have complete control over the sweetness. I used a base recipe from Choosing Raw, but a number of others that Google turned up were similar if not exactly the same. You can also use just about any nut you feel like, if almonds are really your thing.

My very scientific looking soaking almonds.

Vanilla Almond Milk (from Choosing Raw)

1 cup raw almonds, soaked in cool water overnight (8 hours) under refrigeration
4 cups spring or filtered water
6 dates
1 t. vanilla (the extract I used technically renders this un-raw I think, but you can use vanilla pod seeds, scraped out as flavoring if you like)

Drain the almonds, and then in a blender (or a VitaMix for you lucky owners), blend all ingredients until finely blended. I saved out the extract until the milk was done, but you can add it in right away if you like. I drained it through several layers of cheesecloth (see picture below), and when enough of the liquid seeped through, I twisted the cheesecloth into a bag-like shape and squeezed out as much liquid as I could. I added a sieve underneath to catch any stray particulate, but it probably would not have been necessary. I saved the almond "pulp" for another experiment, below. Milk will keep 3 days or a little more according to Choosing Raw, but I have a feeling it will be long gone by then.

I should take a moment to lament my lack of a "Real" blender. The blender I currently have, I bought when I was still in high school. Why I decided to buy a blender one day like 15 years ago, when I had no real use for a blender I'm not sure, but the thing just will not die. I wish it would, so I would have an excuse to buy a new one, but it is still hanging on. Tenacious as it may be, it is not very strong. The only thing it really has going for it is a glass pitcher. If the mixture I am trying to blend has the slightest semblance of a thick sauce, I use my food pro instead to save myself the frustration, but I know if I had tried to make this in a food processor, I would have had an even bigger frustration. Trust me, I know from experience. I really am considering a VitaMix savings fund to be placed on my counter in a Mason Jar. Maybe I'll do that today, and each time I am frustrated by lack of horsepower, I'll add some dough to the jar. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Real blender or not, my nut milk turned out perfect.

That said, I tried to take the almond pulp and process it into a raw nut butter. Besides making a crumbly mess for me to clean up, I learned that this, my friends, is a task that I don't think can be done in a food pro. It just does not have the horsepower to emulsify nuts into creaminess. That's okay, since I decided to alter a recipe from Dreena Burton's book Eat, Drink and Be Vegan.

When I was with my Mom last week, we stopped in at the Viroqua Food Co-Op, a cousin to our Outpost here in Milwaukee. I usually am not in the habit of buying sweets when I shop... but when I'm with my Mom we like to try things just for fun. I saw this cookie, which happened to be gluten-free, and we had to try it.

It was kind of the same feeling I had when I first had Outpost's Little Oatie sandwich cookie. I NEED to find a way to make this now! Our Wisconsin food co-ops are on to something not always providing a recipe (I did find the Midnight Madness cookies, another complete addiction, on the Outpost website one time, but last I checked, it was no longer there.) If I had the access to a recipe like this I'd probably never leave the home and become a complete hermit in the ways of new foodstuffs. Not having something exact to follow, I figured I could at least come close using Dreena's recipe and my new almond pulp...

And, I did pretty well. Well, maybe better than well, since I couldn't stop eating them. I think this is a work in progress, since they didn't taste exactly like the Viroqua Food Co-Op's, but maybe that's a good thing. They would probably all be gone if they did.

Since these had additional moisture from the almond pulp, I had to add quite a bit of extra grain. Next time, I will most likely try using less oil. I still have another portion of almond pulp leftover, so I will be sure to update the recipe at the end of this post when I try again.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies (adapted from Dreena Burton)
  • 1/3 c. oat flour (rolled oats blended in a spice mill works great)
  • 2/3 c. steel cut oats
  • 3/4 c. barley flour
  • 1/2 c. almond pulp, leftover from making almond milk
  • 3 T. brown sugar
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 2 T. brown rice syrup
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. almond extract
  • 1/4 c. veg oil (or olive oil)
  • jam - to fill centers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees f. In a large bowl, combine flours, oats, almond pulp, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and stir until combined. In a separate smaller bowl, combine maple syrup, brown rice syrup, extracts, and oil and stir well to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and blend until just combined. (I used a hand mixer. Remember that if you let it sit for a few minutes, the oats will naturally absorb some of the moisture. If it still seems too moist, add a little additional oat flour - and if it is too dry, add a bit of oil.)

Using a small scoop or a spoon, scoop little mounds out onto a parchment lined sheet. Using a wooden spoon handle (or like me, my rolling pin handle) dipped in flour, make an indentation in the center. (Dreena spoons the jam into the indentations here prior to baking, but I cooked them 3/4 of the way and then removed them from the oven and added the jam. Since I had to increase the baking time quite a bit due to my extra moisture, I'm glad I did it this way!) Bake for 14-20 minutes, until the edges begin to turn brown. Let them cool on the sheets for a minute or two before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

Marisa at Food in Jars is having a give-away for a Ball Blue Book and asked her participants to note what jam is their favorite. I love pretty much any type of jam, jelly, preserve, conserve or marmalade... but, hands down, my favorite is her recipe for Sour Cherry Jam. I have 3 little jars left on my shelf that I've been saving, why I do that I don't know! Cherry season will be here before I know it, so I cracked one open to fill my cookies, and I'm so glad I did. If you are a jam-maker, Marisa has great recipes for you to try, and top on your list should be this Sour Cherry one. Sour Cherry Jam may even make it's way into a vanilla almond milk smoothie of some sort...

If you are a kitchen experimenter like I am, and make this cookie recipe, please let me know how it turns out for you! I'll be playing around with it, since I am beguiled by it's toothsome earthiness, and I don't feel guilty eating a half dozen of them, either. I also know that if you are a nut milk drinker, you will be hooked on the simplicity of making it yourself. The only bad news is that it takes longer to clean up the kitchen afterward than it does to concoct. But, you can enjoy a glass of milk when you're doing it.