For the past ten days, I’ve been cleaning out my apartment and rifling through my pantries, trying to cobble together decent meals for my final days in Seoul.
When I found a bag of almonds, I was admittedly a bit excited, as I remembered what we used to do with these in the co-ops in college. Perfect for the hot weather — a creamy glass of homemade almond milk, sweetened with honey.
Fresh almond milk tastes so much better than the boxed variety you get in a store. You can use it as a vegan dairy substitute in almost any recipe. It has no cholesterol and can be digested by lactose-intolerant people.
When you make homemade almond milk, three things are important to remember: first, don’t use bitter almonds, since their milk can be harmful to drink. Second, since there are no preservatives, you’ll have to use the milk within a few days of making it (3-5 optimally). This has never been a problem in our house. Third, the longer you let the milk “bloom,” or sit after it’s final blending, the better the flavors integrate. I’ve found that letting it sit overnight in the fridge does a nice little tango between ripening and drinking quickly. Shake it well before drinking.
1 cup soaked raw almonds (soaked 6-8 hours)
4 cups water
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, if desired
3 tablespoons honey or 3 pitted dates, if desired
1.) Place almonds in a large bowl. Cover with water. Allow to sit at least 6 hours. Make sure to use a large bowl, since the almonds will expand when they soak up the water.
2.) Drain the now-brown soaking liquid. Place the almonds in a blender. Add 4 cups more water (slightly less for thicker milk) and salt. Puree the almonds.
3.) Line a colander with cheesecloth or fine clean dishcloths. If you have butter muslin, this will be the best, but the others will work just as well. Place a clean bowl below. Pour the blended almond mixture through the colander.
4.) Pick up the ends of your straining cloth and make a bundle. Squeeze the bundle, extracting as much of the creamy almond juice as you can. The harder you squeeze, the thicker and creamier your milk will be.
The remaining pureed almonds can be dried on a cookie sheet and used as almond flour in baking.
5.) Stir the almond milk in the bowl. Sweeten with honey, if desired. You can also add vanilla extract for a more mild taste, or blend it again with the dates for a naturally sweetened drink.
Store milk in a bottle with a lid or pitcher. Refrigerate and allow flavors to blend. Use within 5 days of making and shake well before drinking.