I’ve been wanting to make my own organic almond milk ever since I realized that all store-bought almond milk has additives!! Also, I hate how store-bought almond milk tastes. Call me a snob, but I just think it tastes like cardboard. Plus, it has that weird, thick consistency (thanks to added carageenan).
I was inspired to finally give it a try after reading this post by the Happy Health Freak. I also read this blog post, and learned that almond milk is a traditional Ayurvedic beverage! How cool is that?! For some reason, I was always under the impression that almond milk was a recent discovery attributed to the ‘real food’ movement that we’re currently experiencing (thank goodness). But it’s actually an ancient beverage!
Ayurvedic Almond Milk
In Ayurvedic medicine, almond milk is considered a cooling tonic that strengthens and balances the digestive system (sounds good to me!) It is usually combined with ground cardamom, dates, and/or saffron. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I want to try it with these goodies, but couldn’t seem to find them in my pantry-hm. For now, plain homemade almond milk made from raw, organic, unpasteurized Spanish almonds will do just fine!
History of Almonds
My curiousity was piqued by the Ayurvedic/almond milk connection so I did a little online research to learn more about the history of almond milk. (If you think history is boring, I would advise you to skip this paragraph). Almonds were used in ancient cultures dating as far back as the 200s B.C. Although they originated in the Middle East, their use quickly spread to Northern Africa, and Southern Europe. Almonds were valued for not only for food but also for medicinal purposes. Ancient doctors in India, China, and Europe commonly used almond milk to strengthen patients during recovery from an illness. It was known to heal disorders of the mucous membranes characterized by overproduction of mucous-in other words, colds, coughs, or other discharges (gross). Almond oil was also used as a skin tonic for inflamed skin (even ‘back then!’ )
Three Different Types of Almonds
Did you know there are three different types of almonds? There are sweet, bitter, and somewhere in the middle. Sweet almonds are the ones we traditionally use, and the bitter almonds are the ones that are used to make almond extract. Bitter almonds have the most concentrated ‘almond-y’ flavor, so that is why they are used to make almond extract. This ‘almond-y’ flavor is called benzaldehyde.
Benzaldehyde is extracted from the bitter almonds using alcohol and then combined with water. Some fruit pits, like apricot pits, contain benzaldehyde from which almond extract is commonly made (interesting!) Imitation almond extract is simply made by using lab-produced benzaldehyde (don’t you wonder how they do that?!)
Your Organic Raw Almonds ARE PASTEURIZED If You Buy Them In the US!
OK, I’m really getting carried away with almond ‘fun facts’ here, but I just have to share ONE LAST thing . . . Did you know that all the organic, raw almonds we buy here in the US are either steam or chemically pasteurized? You can read more about it here if you’re curious.
AZURE STANDARD SELLS TRULY RAW ALMONDS (unpasteurized)
If you want to buy truly unpasteurized raw almonds, you have to buy imported almonds from Spain or Italy. Sounds expensive, doesn’t it? But if you buy them online from Azure Standard, they’re very reasonably priced! I buy them in bulk since I know I’m going to make almond milk frequently. The quality and taste of these almonds is amazing, and Azure’s price is a fraction of the cost of the imported Italian almonds available on Amazon.
These raw almonds make the most amazingly delicious organic almond milk with a prominent almond flavor. It tastes vastly different than store-bought organic almond milk!
And now, let’s make some delicious almond milk. . .
First you soak 1 cup of raw almonds overnight in the fridge.
The next day, drain the water and rinse the almonds.
Update (6/18/2013); now that I’ve made this a few times, I never remove the skins anymore! 🙂 It’s SO much faster to just rinse them and throw them into the blender without removing the skins. I think the milk turns out more flavorful as well. However if you really want to be authentic and have an extra 15 minutes to spare, go for it! 🙂
Now for the fun part-peel the almonds (well, not exactly, but you do need to remove the skins). At first I was completely daunted by this step, but once I realized that you can slip the skins off the almonds, it wasn’t so bad. Just squeeze the almond between your fingers, and the skin should pop right off. It took me 15 minutes to do this. (You CAN take a shortcut and leave the skins on, but it’s easier on the digestive system to remove the skins and plus I wanted to be as authentic as possible this time around.)
Put the pretty, white almonds into your blender along with 1 cup of the water.
Blend, and gradually add three more cups of water.
Pour the almond milk through a cheesecloth, nut bag, or coffee filter. (If you use a coffee filter like I did, you’ll need to strain the milk in a couple batches since the filter isn’t large enough to hold all the milk at once.)
Next time around, I’ll use a nut bag since it’s been highly recommended by two other bloggers. And I definitely foresee a lot of nut-milk-making in my future.
This stuff tastes SO much better than store-bought almond milk and it is free of any additives-SO nutritious!!!
Almond Milk, Wikepedia
Almond Milk, Jiva Ayurveda
Almonds, Doctor Schar
Almond Extract, Cook’s Illustrated
The Authentic Almond Project, Cornucopia Institute
- How To Make Cashew Milk And Some Fun Facts About Cashews (chicorganicmama.com)
- ‘Bugs In the Kitchen’: Almond Milk Yogurt (With Pulp) (chicorganicmama.com)
- Vegan Almond Pulp Chocolate Chip Cookies (chicorganicmama.com)
- Cherry Almond Smoothie (chicorganicmama.com)