Recently I’ve been on an almond kick. I think trying the Paleo Vegetarian Challenge for 2.5 seconds inspired me to finally soak my own almonds and make my own almond byproducts. Ever since I bought my Vitamix blender I’ve been itching to try things I could never do with my old blender that hated me. (If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. Ungrateful blender; I had such high hopes for it…) A N Y W A Y. Once I soaked my first batch of almonds, peeled it’s skin and popped one in my mouth, my taste buds had a party. No, I’m serious. It was incredible! I eat almonds all the time. They are my go-to snack, especially with a sweet side of dried cherries. But I had never experienced a soaked almond, sans skin. It was pure almond bliss. I couldn’t wait to experiment!
At first, I made a tiny batch of almond butter, then quickly realized I needed MORE ALMONDS to make the new, friendly blender succeed at what it does best. While I still ate the finished product, it wasn’t quite the consistency I knew it could be. I gave it a few days and then decided to try making almond milk, with a fresh batch of soaked almonds. I measured out 1 cup of dry almonds and put them in a bowl, covered with cold water. I usually cover the bowl with a kitchen towel to avoid any foreign objects from flying in… I’m paranoid, what can I say? By the next morning, the almonds are plump and the skins peel off nicely. (I’ve also set up the soaking before work, and peeled them after work; so 8-10 hours is a good soak time.)
Drain and rinse the soaked almonds, leaving skins on, place in a high powered blender with 4.5 cups of water. You can use more or less water depending on how thick and creamy you want it. My 1 cup of dried almonds produced 1.75 cups of soaked almonds. I added 4 Medjool dates for sweetness with pits removed and a splash of vanilla extract. My blender recommends using the Smoothie Setting to make almond milk.
Once the blender has completed the Smoothie Setting, or once you have decided it’s blended enough, you can do 1 of 2 things. Either use a milk bag to catch the pulp or cheesecloth. Since this was my first batch and I wasn’t sure if I would like the almond milk, I just used some cheesecloth I had at home. I doubled it up and placed it over a strainer, and the strainer over a large bowl.
Then, I gathered up all the corners of the cheesecloth and started squeezing the liquid through!
I had to do this a few times to get through all the milk. Each time, you are left with the remaining pulp that didn’t get chopped up! Did someone say almond flour or almond meal? Yeah, I thought so. But we will get back to that later. For now, just set it aside on a plate, bowl or baking sheet. You can see some of the almond meal sticking to the cheesecloth in the photo below.
Once all the liquid is strained, you will be left with an amazing, creamy, great tasting milk.
This batch made a little over a quart of almond milk.
Store your freshly made almond milk in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Mine lasted about 5 days… because I used it all. I would imagine it would be totally fine for 7 days in the fridge however.
If you’ve made it this far into this post, I’m sure you are already interested in making your own almond milk. Or maybe you are like my cousin and think I’m nut-so for making this stuff when I can just as easily go to the store and buy it. Why not just buy it?? Its a pretty simple answer actually – I have many weird oral food allergies (OAS – Oral Allergy Syndrome). Meaning, I won’t get anaphylactic shock as a reaction to allergens, but I do eat things occasionally that cause me to have a very itchy throat. Sometimes store bought almond milk would do this to me, but raw almonds NEVER did. So, I wanted to test it out for myself. From the farm to the processing plant, to the milk container something happens that my body doesn’t like and I listen to my body. Best news? I didn’t have ANY issues with my homemade almond milk! SUCCESS! It was amazing in my morning coffee, pancakes and my breakfast smoothie. 🙂
Now, back to that almond meal stuff… when I noticed how much pulp it produced with my first milk straining, I immediately decided to make almond flour out of it. My friend had recently started using almond meal/flour in many of her baked goods and I had dabbled with it a bit myself.
After all the pulp was pulled out, I had a whole baking sheet full. I spread it out as thin as I could, using my hands to break apart any chunks.
Then, I baked it in the oven, uncovered at 175° F for 20 minutes at a time. After each 20 minute interval, I would take out the pan and break up the bigger chunks so they would dry faster. The overall baking/drying time was ~80 minutes. This time will vary depending on the humidity in the air. By the time I removed it completely, it was looking pretty good and dry. (UPDATE: I’ve since purchased a dehydrator and I just pop it in at 110 degrees F and it dehydrates overnight. No fuss.)
The last step is to ensure you get the big chunks into a flour consistency. Simply pour the dried pulp into the Vitamix and process into a flour!
The last item I wanted to make was almond butter. I know I already mentioned above how I made a tiny batch that didn’t turn out so well; it was redemption time. I knew I needed MORE ALMONDS so I measured out 2 dry cups of almonds and soaked them overnight. By morning I had 2.75 cups of soaked almonds – woo hoo! Plenty for nut butter! I suckered my amazing partner into helping me peel the skins while we watched TV. It took us about 45 minutes 0_O I’m not gonna lie, at one point when the shards of almond were jabbing under my fingernail, I was questioning if this was a good idea (aka, was it worth it to peel the skins). But, I kept reminding myself of how I never liked store bought almond butter, and those butters were clearly made with the skins on – not to mentioned toasted. I forged ahead as any noble almond peeler would do!
Now, the only thing left to do was sucker my partner one final time, into helping me make the butter itself. He has far more upper body strength than me, and can pound that tamper down effortlessly. I think it helps that he’s taller too, better leverage!
Again, there is no way in an Arizona Summer my old blender would have been able to handle this. So you will need a high powered blender to achieve a nut butter. Using the Vitamix tamper to beat down the nuts really helps to keep things moving too. The finished product is a good amount of raw almond butter to enjoy for weeks to come. Be sure to refrigerate! The consistency of this was like sugar cookie dough… oh yeah. I cannot wait to experiment with this butter! Happy baking!