How to Milk an Almond

14 11 2009

I have never, ever thought about making almond milk before now. Where would I have gotten such a preposterous idea? Sure, I’ve always been impressed with folks who make their own soy milk, and I’ve eaten the tasty food items made with the leftover soybean mash. (Thanks, weird vegan potluck at a house in the U-District where I went to a basement show to see a very strange one-man band from Omaha!)

Thanks to the magic of Google Reader and the ability to share reader items, a friend shared this article – “How to Milk an Almond” – and I thought to myself, “Wait… this looks easy!”


Soaked overnight and ready to rock.

I had it starred in my reader for awhile… then I bookmarked the original page in my browser… then I actually asked a friend if I could borrow a food processor or blender… then I got sick. The original plan to make this last weekend didn’t happen, but the dream was still alive. Finally I came home with a borrowed food processor in a bag and, having properly prepared by soaking the almonds overnight, I went to work.

Of course I should have known it wouldn’t be as easy as the internet made it look – especially considering I don’t really understand some of the basics of things like food processors. The first thing I did was put in too much at one time. First water leaked out the bottom, then when I started the blending it exploded out the sides. Awesome!


It doesn't look like much of a disaster because water is clear.

I scooped out about half of the almonds (I started with a pound), dumped some water, and started over. At this point I had absolutely no idea how much water was left in there. I’d already had some confusion reading the recipe and figuring out how much water I should have. So really, the water was the big wild card here. However, the good thing about this is you can always add more – so I opted for less to start.

After two batches through the food processor, I lined a large bowl with cheesecloth, scooped the the mix into it, and squeezed.

At this point I really did feel like I was milking an almond.


The first and second strainings.

The first straining is done with cheesecloth; for the second the website recommended a wire mesh coffee filter, and I borrowed an extra from the office. I soaked that coffee filter in soapy water even longer than I soaked the almonds, just so the milk wouldn’t pick up any weird flavors. As you can see I had to rig up something weird, because it wasn’t cone shaped and didn’t fit neatly into any of the containers I had. That’s a chopstick it’s hanging from.

I set all the meal aside for the time being and poured the milk into a glass jar, and added about a cup and a half more water.


Almond milk, pre-"blooming".

Now, the waiting. The instructions call for letting it “bloom” in the fridge for 24 hours. It does some settling, but you give it some shakes and you keep it covered and then you add pinches of salt and flavoring of your choice. I planned to add some vanilla, depending on what it tasted like then. I did taste it before stowing it in the fridge, but it was just funny-tasting water at that point.


Drying the meal!

I rounded out the first phase of the adventure by toasting the almond meal in the oven for later, undetermined baking uses. I overtoasted some of it a little, but still ended up with quite a bit of good, usable meal.

Over the next 24 hours I did the shake-and-wait.


Here it is, in the fridge, doing exactly what it's supposed to do.

Once 24 hours had officially passed, I added a bit of vanilla and two pinches of salt. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what I’m trying to get to! Funny that I should be so excited about making my own almond milk, when I don’t even drink it on a regular basis.



I think it’s good in terms of water level… and I don’t want to add too much sweetener, so it can be used for more things. I don’t want to add too much salt because I’m afraid of over-salting it… but maybe it hasn’t hit that “perfect” state yet. I shall keep experimenting today. :)




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