Since I no longer have my own goats, I’ve been having a hard time trying to decide what kind of milk to use. Unless I can buy organic, raw dairy locally, I know that it’s really not going to be very good for me or for the environment. But, because of FDA regulations, it’s hard to find raw milk. My choices are limited to a couple goat or cow dairy options at farmers markets, and let’s face it: they’re not cheap. While I’m in complete support of local organic farmers and what they do, a gal’s gotta have a budget! I simply don’t consume my milk fast enough to justify spending the extra money.
Many people are into almond milk these days, thinking it’s the healthier alternative, so I figured I’d see what all the fuss was about… but when I started looking at the ingredients, most packaged almond milks (and other alternative “milks”) contain sugar, carrageenan and other mysterious ingredients (even the organic ones, because organic standards are different for processed foods). I was left wondering whether I was actually better off buying organic dairy products!
The jury may still be out on this one… check back later.
In the meantime, I figured I’d like to try making my own almond milk from organic almonds.
Why organic? Well, for one thing raw almonds (unless sold at a farm stand or farmers market), by USDA regulations, must either be heat treated or fumigated with this nasty gas called propylene oxide (PPO), which is classified as a carcinogen and banned in Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. Gross! Organic almonds cannot be treated with PPO. Organic also always means non-GMO, and organic farming is always better for your health and the environment than conventional farming.
Then there’s the carbon footprint… If I can’t milk my own goat or cow or get milk from one down the road, at least the carbon footprint for making my own almond milk is actually much smaller than buying dairy and quite possibly even alternative “milks” at the grocery store, taking into consideration all the processing, packaging and shipping.
Water is also of the utmost importance: California is in the midst of a record breaking drought, and 99% of U.S. almonds – 80% of the world’s almonds – are grown here in California. It takes 1.1 gallons of water to grow an almond; they absorb nearly 10% of California’s annual water supply! That is certainly no small matter, but let’s put things into perspective. It takes 683 gallons of water to grow the alfalfa that goes into one gallon of cow milk, and less than 483 gallons of water to grow the almonds that go into a gallon of homemade almond milk.
It only takes a handful of almonds to make a glass of almond milk, and the leftover ground almonds can be dried to make almond meal – a great gluten-free baking ingredient. All I really need milk for is smoothies and tea, so a little goes a long way. I figured I’d give it a shot, but I sense there is still more milk research in my future…
A recipe for organic almond milk and almond meal - use the whole almond with no waste!
- 3/4 C organic (raw if possible) almonds
- water for soaking
- 2 C filtered water
- 1 date for sweetener, if desired
- Cover almonds with water and soak at room temperature overnight, up to two days (the longer the soak, the creamier the milk will be).
- Drain and rinse almonds.
- Blend with filtered water for 2 minutes on high.
- Taste test and add date to sweeten and blend, if desired.
- Strain through cheesecloth lined colander into a bowl, picking the cloth up by the corners, twisting and squeezing all of the milk out.
- Pour milk into a jar and refrigerate.
- Spread the ground almond meal onto a baking pan and dry at lowest heat setting in the oven for a couple hours.
- Blend to remove chunks if necessary and store for baking use.