In my taking up the October Unprocessed 2012 Challenge a real issue is our milk. Lets face it…it is way too easy to go buy a ½ gallon of ready to use refrigerated almond or coconut milk. Over and over I have told myself I would get off this cycle. Then I let my lazy gene step in and tell me I don’t have time or whatever. And I come home with paper boxes. Still, there is a part of me wondering if I could do better.
So are there benefits to making your own? I’d say yes. First, you can control what goes in said milk. All you need are raw almonds and filtered water. By making your own you can make what you need, when you need it. Commercially processed milks require stabilizers so it can last for long periods. Shelf stable milk in 1 quart containers can be 1 to 2 years for expiration dates! Refrigerated milks can have 3 or more months to sell before expiring. Which has made me uneasy the more I research ingredients used in said commercial milks. Don’t get me wrong, I do think there is a need for the milks – for travel and quick meals or for storage, they are great. But…we often use 4 cups of almond milk a morning for our frappes and oatmeal! That is a lot of carrageenan to be ingesting. And we use a half-gallon every 2 days!
And lets talk prices. Where we live a shelf stable quart container goes for $1.99 to $2.99, depending on brand and where I shop. Average is $2.29. For refrigerated the average is $2.99 for a half-gallon (ranging from $2.79 to $3.99). So I ran prices for making it at home. I buy my almonds at Costco, which cost less per pound. In town I can get raw almonds in bulk for $4.39 a pound. To make a quart of milk takes a shy 6 ounces or so (1 cup). At the bulk price (more fair since not everyone can shop Costco) it cost $1.62 to make a quart. That is 67¢ savings compared to buying a shelf stable quart. I don’t save money though when I buy half gallons – it cost $3.24 to make it. Although there is a savings not mentioned so far, to count in. The almond meal that is left over. I can purchase ground whole almond meal for $3.99 a pound at Trader Joe’s – everywhere else it runs from $8 to $12 a pound. At minimum I can get back 75¢ worth of almond meal per quart of milk made. So…if you are willing to dehydrate your almond meal and use it in baking you can actually save real money. And I use a lot of almond meal. That is when I knew I was saving money by making our milk. If I dry the meal, I can get my raw cost down to under 90 cents a quart! And it is fresher, not pasteurized and no stabilizers!
More so, look how creamy this milk is! It isn’t an odd beige color like commercial is. No carrageenan, Gellan Gum, sunflower lecithin, tapioca starch, Locust Bean Gum, rice starch or “natural flavor“. (These ingredients are in 4 of the top name brands, taken off their websites). So let’s get going and make some!
Raw Almond Milk
- 1 cup almonds (skins on), 5 to 6 ounces
Cover the almonds with filtered water, let soak in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 6 hours. Drain and add to a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix) with 4 cups filtered water. Process on high until blended. A lower power blender will take longer.
Strain through a Fine Mesh Strainer or Jelly Strainer Bags. If using a sieve (strainer) let drain, then gently press against the mesh with a silicone spatula. If using a jelly or nut bag, allow to drain then squeeze bag.
Store milk tightly sealed in refrigerator, use in 2 to 3 days.
Makes about 1 quart. Double the recipe if you go through a quart a day!
And that pulp left? Don’t toss! There are many ways to use it. You can use it damp right away in smoothies, oatmeal and so on. Or dehydrate it quickly for later use.
Line a dehydrator tray with parchment paper, cutting out the center hole (if your dehydrator has one). Spread the almond meal on it. Dry at your preferred temperature (below 118° for raw, 135° if you don’t care) till bone dry. Pack up and store in the refrigerator or freezer, tightly sealed. For a finer flour, process once dry in a blender or spice mill.
How long for drying? Depends on the humidity and how much liquid was left behind. Usually mine is dry in 2 to 3 hours.
This can also be done in an oven, on lined baking sheets, but be careful, even the lowest setting can be too hot, you must keep an eye on it.
How much to expect? I find I get about 3 ounces dehydrated almond meal per cup of almonds used, which weigh 5 to 6 ounces before making milk. That is getting back 50% or more that could have been tossed!