Milk Your Almonds

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Easy-to-make almond milk

Almond milk has long been a popular alternative to dairy milk for the lactose-intolerant. It is lower in fat, a great source of protein and calcium and, for those who avoid dairy for ethical reasons it is cruelty-free. With its creamy texture and naturally sweet flavour, it is the most viable substitute to dairy milk available right now.

But it’s also a rather expensive: expect to pay SG$24 for a 1-litre bottle of raw almond milk from small-batch producers. Almond milk also doesn’t keep well, lasting from three to five days at most. If you’re drinking it every day, or even just on a regular basis, the cost can really add up.

Store-bought almond milk is significantly cheaper, at $3 to $6 for a 1-litre carton, but… it also contains just 5 per cent almonds and is loaded with sugars, preservatives and thickeners. Many also complain that its bland taste leaves much to be desired.

Frankly, if you want good almond milk, you’re going to have to pay for it. The problem is that raw nuts are expensive because they require a lot of water (they’re actually the most water-intensive non-dairy milk to make commercially) and labour-intensive to process. Throw in the fact they’re mostly not grown in Southeast Asia, and you get one expensive product.

Still, good almond milk doesn’t have to cost a bomb. The answer is homemade almond milk: while it’ll set you back about twice the price of the store version (a 400-gram bag of raw almonds costs about SG$8 at the supermarket and yields nearly 1 litre of milk) it tastes way better. So, with a little bit of effort, you can make your own almond milk without breaking the bank.

A basic almond milk recipe

400 grams of raw, unroasted, unsalted almonds, soaked overnight

1 litre of room temperature water

A cheesecloth or reusable coffee filter

A large bowl

Salt to taste

Optional: sweeteners or flavourings. Sweeteners include honey, dates or agave. Flavourings include vanilla bean, cinnamon, chocolate or strawberry.

1. Place almonds into a powerful blender and top up with water.

2. Blend on high setting until the almonds are finely ground and the mix has a creamy texture.

3. Spread the cheesecloth over a large bowl, with all four corners over the rim.

4. Pour the almond and water mixture onto the cheesecloth slowly.

5. Pick up each corner of the cheesecloth and squeeze the excess liquid out into the bowl gently.

6. Add salt to taste. Add optional sweeteners and flavourings to achieve your preferred taste profile.

7. Chill in the fridge. Consume in three to five days.

If you would like to add sweeteners and flavourings, whisk them into the milk until they are well incorporated.

Wondering what to do with the almond meal left from straining the milk? Don’t discard it – you can use it to make almond cookies, biscuits and cakes. You can also add it to your smoothies or granola for an extra boost of protein and healthy fats.

Baking with almond milk

Almond milk is also a flavourful substitute for dairy milk in baked goods, and so is perfect for vegans or those who want to avoid dairy products. Its creamy consistency and rich taste make for delicious ice-cream, cakes, cookies and pastries.

Homemade almond milk is the best substitute because its texture is the most similar to cow’s milk. This means you should get the same results and don’t have to tweak the recipe. It’s also the most suitable alternative for lattes and other milk coffees, as almost milk can with withstand high temperatures from steaming without producing a burnt taste.

Below is a simple brownie recipe that uses almond milk. If you use cake mix kits, you can simply replace the amount of water specified with almond milk for tastier results.

140 grams of plain flour

20 grams of cocoa powder

200 grams of caster sugar

140 grams of plain flour

80 ml of vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

200 grams of dark chocolate, melted

240 ml of almond milk

An 8-inch square baking tin

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and line the baking tin with baking paper (or apply a thin coating of oil if you don’t have any baking paper).

2. Mix together flour, cocoa powder and sugar. Whisk gently until well-combined

3. Add oil, vanilla, melted chocolate and almond milk. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.

4. Transfer the brownie mix to a baking tin and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on how “fudgy” you want the brownies to be. Do not overbake the brownies as they will become too dry and sponge-like – not how you want brownies to be!

If you think almonds are just too expensive to turn into milk, you can try making nut milk from other more affordable types of nuts, such as cashews or hazelnuts. Macadamia nuts are more expensive than almonds, but still well worth a try if you (and your wallet) are up for it.

And don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of nuts – or even with oats or rice – if you want dairy-free alternatives for your baking and cooking needs!

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