Here’s a recipe for a deeply-flavored vanilla almond milk, made from scratch. I usually don’t sweeten my vanilla almond milk, simply because the flavors of the almond and vanilla work so beautifully together, without any help. But if you like yours sweet, by all means, add whatever natural sweetener you prefer, to taste. If you don’t have a vanilla bean, or you prefer a much milder infusion of vanilla, feel free to substitute the best quality vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste that you can find. Enjoy!! ;o) —AntoniaJames
about 3 ½ cups
Filtered water (2 cups for soaking + 3½ cups for blending)
Optional Sweeteners: 1 tablespoon warmed honey or maple syrup; a scant tablespoon agave nectar; 3 or 4 pitted dates (to taste)
Also optional: a dash of cinnamon, or a tiny dash of freshly grated nutmeg or finely grated lemon zest
In This Recipe
Soak the nuts in 2 cups of cold filtered water at least overnight – 24 hours is even better.
Drain the nuts and put them in a blender with 1 ½ cups of fresh filtered water. Add your vanilla. You should also add your sweeteners, if using them.
Blend for 3 minutes on high speed. Scrape down the sides and add up to 2 more cups of filtered water to the blender. Less water will produce a thicker, more intensely flavored milk. If you want a milk that’s thinner than regular cows' milk, add even more filtered water. It’s all up to you!
Blend for at least another minute.
While the blender is running, set up a strainer over large measuring cup or bowl. Cover the strainer with butter muslin or several layers of medium weave cheesecloth. (Butter muslin can be purchased from cheesemaking suppliers, or at crafts and fabric stores, where it’s called “90 muslin”).
Let the milk sit in the blender for at least an hour, to allow the flavors to infuse. Then, blend for another 10 - 20 seconds before straining.
After you’ve finished blending (whether or not you’ve used a vanilla bean), taste the milk. If it needs more sweetness, add it now and blend for another minute. If you think it needs more vanilla flavor, add more extract or vanilla bean paste, and blend for another minute.
Once you've finished blending, and once the flavorings and sweeteners are to your liking, pour the almond milk through the cheesecloth lined strainer. When you start to see a lot of pulp and not much liquid – usually within about 5 minutes – gently use a spoon to push some of the pulp aside so you can pour more milk through.
After about 20 minutes, all told, carefully draw up the edges of the cheesecloth and twist them together as you start to press on the ball of pulp to extract the remaining milk. Take care not to let the pulp ooze out of the edges of the cheesecloth.
Squeeze as much milk out as you can, twisting the top down onto the ball of pulp, and pressing the milk out between your hands.
Wash your cheesecloth clean under running water (rinsing with filtered water), wring it well, and hang it over the edge of a counter or over a chair to dry. You’ll want to use it again!
Pour the milk into a tightly lidded pitcher or jar and refrigerate. It should keep for 3-4 days. If it separates, just give the jar a good shake, or stir it well with a spoon.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)