I'm really really pleased with myself because this is something I didn't realise was actually possible until recently.
I thought that only scientists in special factories were capable of producing the nut in liquid form. I thought it must involve some mystical science, some complicated process I wouldn't be able to grasp, or have the equipment for. Luckily, I was wrong! It's actually really easy and genuinely fun.
A few reasons why I like making nut milk:
1. I'm not a fan of eating nuts. But I'm vegetarian and need to force the protein and vitamins down my throat somehow. So the more ways I can find to sneak them into my diet the better!
2. I do sometimes enjoy almond milk with my cereal, but wasn't able to find it plastic-free. All the cartons I found are lined with plastic and have plastic lids.
3. Homemade nut milk contains no nasty preservatives or chemicals.
4. I haven't been able to find normal milk here plastic-free either. So it was time to find an alternative.
The best thing about making my own nut milk is that it can be done completely plastic-free, and even waste-free in general. The recipe simply requires nuts and water, and any sweetener and flavouring you want (I use a date for sweetness and a splash of vanilla essence for flavour - but I recently forgot to add either and it was just as good!). I can buy my nuts and dates in bulk, I filter my water with activated charcoal, and the vanilla essence is bought in a little glass jar with a metal lid.
So far I've only experimented with almond milk, but I hear cashew and macadamia are also good options, and are apparently even quicker to make. Also, almonds are controversial. In America, most of them are grown in California, an area constantly under threat from drought. Almonds take up huge amounts of water to grow. So they aren't exactly the best solution to the planet's problems.
But for now, I'll share the almond milk recipe in case anyone wants to have a go. Other nut milks to come soon!
Blender or food processor
Cheese cloth or nut milk bag (I actually use the same cotton produce bags that I use for my shopping - washed of course!)
A container for the milk (I use a glass bottle)
A funnel for easy pouring
A large bowl or jug (preferably with a spout so you don't spill everywhere!)
Rinsing off soaked almonds
1 cup raw almonds (soaked overnight in water, then rinsed)
3-5 cups filtered water (depending on how creamy you want the texture to be and how big a batch you want to make)
A few drops vanilla essence (optional)
1 date (optional)
Put everything into a blender or food processor and blend on a maximum speed for about one minute. You want to grind up the almonds and date as finely as possible.
Once blended, place your nut milk bag into your large bowl or jug and pour the mixture into the bag.
This is where it gets messy, and you will need to have very clean hands for this next stage!
Lift the bag up with one hand, pinching the opening closed. With the other hand, gently start to squeeze it so that the milk runs into the bowl but the almond meal is caught inside the bag. I really enjoy this messy bit of work, the milk goes all over your hands and it always makes me feel like I'm milking a cow!
I find it's easier to start from the top of the bag and gradually work your way down, gently squeezing as much milk out as possible.
When you've milked it as much as you can, pour the milk into your chosen container and there you have your very own homemade almond milk! Woohoo!
I love mine over homemade granola with some fruit. I add the almond meal to my homemade granola, but you can use it for baking as well.
I find both milk and meal will last about a week in the fridge. Although I've always eaten them up before too long, so I don't know if they would last longer!
The final result - almond milk and almond meal
In case you were wondering why the almonds are soaked first...
Almond skin contains enzyme blockers that keep the nuts fresh until they either have enough water or enough sunlight to start to germinate. Soaking the almonds releases these blockers, so they can be rinsed away. Once the enzymes are activated, the nuts are said to be more nutritious and easier to digest.
Soaking the nuts also helps to soften them, making them easier to blend into a milky pulp.
Just make sure you do strain it so you don't end up with this!