Four years ago, when my husband and I first started to minimize our intake of animal products, our first agenda was to find a comparable milk substitute to pour over our cereal. (We knew we would never be able to give up cheese, so we were determined to cut back in other areas of our life). We tested several varieties of nut and grain milks but always came up short, usually in the consistency department. Neither one of us liked the taste of soy, and we didn’t feel comfortable consuming it everyday. A mixed grain milk we tried had an interesting flavor, but was, well, grainy and too thick for cereal. Coconut milk was too watery. Almond milk won for best flavor, but was still too thick for cereal. Finally, we gave rice milk a shot and it soon became our breakfast staple with its pleasant taste and milk-like consistency. But we returned to almond milk for use in other things, like our coffee and in soups as a thickener.
As with many products, when we came to Korea we discovered that rice and almond milk were not sold here. After over two weeks of combing the supermarkets – and trying peanut-soy milk (not half bad) – we resigned to purchasing cow’s milk for our cereal. This got old quickly. Our stomachs were not used to the extra dairy, and paired with our new Korean diet (added spice and acid) we were uncomfortable, to say the least. Then a friend emailed me a recipe to make my own almond milk. Worried that it would be too thick but desperate for an alternative, I tried it. It turned out to be the perfect consistency for cereal – all the nutty taste without the added thickeners in the store-bought almond milk.
Even better, it took about 10 minutes. Now, my husband and I make it every week.
Almond Milk and Money
For many the cost of almonds can be daunting. So, let’s break down the cost: If my husband and I eat one bowl of cereal everyday, I use about two cups of almonds for our milk each week. I purchase 1 kg of almonds at a time (a little over 2 pounds) for roughly $11.00. There are about 3.5 cups of almonds in a pound, so from my 1kg of almonds I manage to make almost all of our almond milk needed for one month. Again, that is if we just use it to eat with our cereal each day, and I don’t count the few tablespoons we put in our coffee each morning.
For a family of two, this could be just as much as you spend on regular cow’s milk a month – or less. (Since a gallon only lasts so long in the fridge, we would actually be more likely to spend more on cow’s milk, and would probably end up consuming a lot more milk in order to use it before it sours).
For a family of four – if we keep the same ratio of one cereal bowl per person per day – this brings the cost to between $25 and $30 per month on almonds. (I am rounding up because I realize your cereal bowl may look a bit different from mine).
Again, this is similar to the amount that you would pay on gallons of cow’s milk each month.
But why pay the same amount for almonds when we are ultimately getting more product by purchasing cow’s milk?
As with any healthy alternative that you bring to your diet, there can appear to be a price to product ratio imbalance. But is there really an imbalance? This depends on your perception and what health concerns or environmental issues are important to you. There are many reasons why a person would choose to switch to a non-dairy milk, such as allergies and taste preference. Some switch because of hormones often found in cow’s milk, while others are passionately against how cows are treated in an industrial farm setting. Still, others switch to lessen their intake of cholesterol or because of intolerance. My husband and I made the switch due to a combination of these reasons.
But what about Calcium?
Many are concerned about their or their children’s calcium intake suffering if they no longer drink cow’s milk. I don’t blame them, with all of the milk advertisements out there. With the frequency of milk ads, there seems to be a general idea that, aside from orange juice and other products fortified with calcium, milk is the only way a person can get their recommended calcium. This idea couldn’t be further from the truth.
Many nuts, fruits, and vegetables also provide calcium, such as broccoli, oranges, almonds, sesame seeds, okra, celery, figs, cabbage, asparagus, and soybeans. Dark leafy greens (such as kale, chard, and collard greens) can also put an excellent amount of calcium into your diet.
Furthermore, there is much doubt as to whether cow’s milk really helps build strong bones, or if the milk is even beneficial to us at all. After all, it was designed for calves, not humans.
Making Almond Milk
You will need:
- Fine mesh sieve
- Well-made blender or food processor
- Glass container to store your almond milk
When deciding on the amount of almonds, consider who and how many people will be drinking the almond milk, and how often. (Almond milk only keeps for about 4 days in the fridge). I do not normally measure, but if it is your first time, it may help to have a measurement to follow until you become comfortable judging your preferred consistency by sight. You can always adjust the amount of almonds – more for a creamier milk, less for a thinner milk. I make batches of almond milk with one cup of almonds at a time, so I will use this amount for recipe purposes. For me, one cup of almonds makes almost a liter (roughly 4 cups) of creamy almond milk.
To protect your almond milk from bitterness, it is best to first remove the almond skins. This can be done by blanching them. To blanch the almonds, place them in a small pot of boiling water. Let them boil between 2 and 3 minutes, then strain your almonds.
Once the almonds cool, you can remove the skins by taking an almond between your thumb and index finger and pressing one end of the almond gently. The almond should “pop” out of its skin easily.
Place the almonds in your food processor and add 2 cups of water. Blend, blend, blend, until you can’t blend anymore. The milk should be very white, with the consistency of regular milk. Strain the milk into a clean glass jar and repeat the process using the strained almond bits and one cup of water.
After blending, you should have a very thick, creamy milk. Strain carefully again, coaxing the milk through the sieve until you are left with a thick paste.
Use this to blend a third time with a half cup to a full cup of water. Strain it a final time, and your first batch of almond milk is complete!
Tip: Some natural separation will occur in the fridge. Simply shake the jar well to restore it to its regular consistency before using.