I'm not one of those people who obsessively makes every ingredient in their pantry from scratch.
Don't get me wrong. I'd LIKE to be one of those people. I've even tried to be. Unfortunately, that kind of 100% total from-scratch lifestyle just isn't in the cards during this particular stage of my life. At this point, if I can cook a meal at home instead of driving through some god-forsaken window somewhere I call that a win.
So you might be surprised to know that I prefer making my almond milk at home, from scratch. There are a few reasons I do this. The most noble would be to avoid drinking all kinds of wacky stabilizers and preservatives added to commercial almond milk. The less virtuous motivation (and possibly the more pressing of the two) is that homemade almond milk tastes AMAZING. It's seriously so much better than anything you can buy at the store.
Is it an extra step? Yes. Is it a little slow and sometimes even a bit annoying? Sure. Is it worth the trouble? You bet your sweet bippy it is.
To make a very basic, non-sweetened, non-flavored almond milk simply omit the vanilla beans and dates from this recipe - then go home to your pristine lair of virtue and judge me. I need some sweetness in my life. I figure dates are not the worst variety. This recipe yields a very mildly sweet milk. If you want it to be extra sweet just add a few extra dates.
By the way, squeezing the milk through a questionably named device - the nut bag (ahem), is the best way to get a really smooth, pulp-free milk. The second best method is to strain through cheese cloth. That's very effective, but it does take a while with all the dripping and waiting involved. I don't know about you, but I haven't got all day to spend milking nuts.
The fastest method is to strain through a fine mesh strainer, but there is a drawback. This method allows much more pulp to get into the milk. Whether or not that bugs you is really up to personal taste. As long as you are using unpasteurized almonds to make your milk (see *note below) it shouldn't result in a big difference in flavor. I've tried it both ways, and you can see the difference in the following photo. The milk made with cheesecloth is on the left and the milk made with a mesh strainer is on the right.
Vanilla Almond Milk
Makes about 3 1/2 cups
- Soak the almonds and vanilla beans in water for 24-48 hours.
- Transfer mixture to a blender and blend on highest setting for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture is fairly smooth and frothy.
- Strain the mixture through a nut bag, cheesecloth, or a fine mesh strainer.
- Refrigerate for up to one week.
*I've seen these available at Whole Foods, Amazon, and occasionally at other hippie-dippie type grocery stores. Thrive Market also carries them. There is actually a huge difference (to my taste anyway) between pasteurized and unpasteurized almonds. The latter being far more bitter than the untouched variety.