Almond Milk with a Hint of Vanilla

The arrival of Seth has severely impeded my ability to cook.  Don't get me wrong, I am that annoying person who loves newborn babies.  I have basically spent the past 6 weeks sitting in a rocking chair, in an old tatty tracksuit, cuddling a newborn and eating cake.  Bliss.  I have not really left the house, and made fewer meals than I can count on one hand.  But I have been making almond milk. Religiously.

Why?  One might ask.  Well, firstly, it is great for a feeding mother.  And at the moment I am all about looking after myself and the baby (sorry kids and husband).  It is also delicious - I drink a glass every morning.  And I have made all kinds of delicacies with it - almond milk hot chocolate, matcha latte's, porridge, custard, and it is perfect for the kids when things are so disorganised that there is no milk for cereal at breakfast.  Yes, while I am in some kind of bleary eyed euphoria, things are only just hanging together in the household.

But, back to almond milk.  I first started making it last summer when my old friend, "cooking sister", and truly talented Kim S was home from NYC.  We spent many days last August making nut milks and creams in many varieties, and after a little finessing, this is the final version that I rely on.  It is rich, nourishing and slightly sweet, and adds a depth of flavour to hot and cold breakfast cereals and desserts.

The recipe makes 4 (US) cups of milk.  It is the consistency of whole milk and very creamy.   I use double the amount of water to nuts for milk (ie. 2 cups of nuts and 4 cups of water).  But I sometimes make a thicker version for a dairy free custard (perfect for ice cream), which is more like single cream, using 1 1/2 times the water to nuts.  And yes, it work brilliantly.

For those skeptics out there, give it a go and let me know what you think.  The trick, as ever, is to use the best possible ingredients.  Good raw almonds (ie. not too old) and vanilla really make a difference to the end result.  And aren't we all supposed to be cutting down on dairy?

soaked almonds ready to blitz
soaked almonds ready to blitz
almond milk
almond milk
note:  I strain the milk in 2 batches
note: I strain the milk in 2 batches

Almond Milk

Makes approximately 950ml (4 cups)

You will need a blender, a fine mesh sieve and a muslin or cheesecloth.  And a jar to store it in!

250g (2 cups) raw whole almonds with skin

1 medjool date

1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 2 tsp good vanilla extract)

1 tsp pink Himalayan salt (or Malden salt)

Put the almonds in a bowl and cover with cold water until submerged.  Cover and leave on the counter overnight (or for 8 hours)

Drain and put in a blender with 950ml (4 cups) cold water. Note: This is double the amount of water to almonds.  You can easily scale the recipe up or down with the quantity of almonds.  If you want to make a thicker milk use less water.  I use 1 1/2 quantity of water to almond ratio for a single cream consistency.

Add date, vanilla and salt and blitz in the blender.  There will still be small flecks of almonds but don't worry as they will strain out at the end.

Line your mesh sieve with a piece of cheesecloth or muslin and place it over a bowl.

Pour the milk slowly through the sieve, pressing as much liquid out of the remaining almond meal as you can.  I usually end up wringing it out over the sieve at the end.

Discard the almond meal, pour the milk into a jug or jar and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

I would love to hear how you like to use your almond milk.  Please let me know!