I’m drawing a long bow by putting this post in a gardening blog. My defence is that at one point, a bit further down, I do use an egg which came from one of my chickens in my garden.
But maybe I don’t need an excuse. This blog continues to morph and I’m using it to write not just about what grows in my garden, but also about some of the things I do as part of my goal to impact the planet less and get as much food as I can from ingredients as close to their pure form as possible.
Last year I went to a raw foods seminar. One of the things the woman showed us how to make was Almond Milk. I’m slightly lactose intolerant so I have been using rice milk on my muesli for years now. It seems a small step to using Almond Milk. That small step has taken a few months but that happens sometimes in life.
- Take 1/4 cup (or as much as you want – this amount lasts me for 3 or 4 bowls of cereal) of raw almonds and soak them in water overnight.
- Throw away the water & rinse the nuts. This helps remove enzyme inhibitors found on the skin of many nuts. They can interfere with digestion & assimilation of some of the good things in the nuts.
- Put nuts (you probably have double the amount you started with as they should be nice and plump) into a blender with 3 times the amount of water. (In this case I had 1/2 cup of nuts so added 1 1/2 cups of water.)
- Blend thoroughly.
- Pour mixture through sieve or muslin cloth.
The output is about 1 1/2 cups of milk and a shy 1/2 cup of moist almond meal.
The milk is great on cereal. I haven’t tried it on anything else but I suspect it works in things like soups, mashes or sauces. You can do this with just about any nut (I’ve tried cashew milk which is really creamy) but almonds are cheap and easy to get.
I’m guessing the almond milk will end up costing about the same as my rice milk but it has several advantages:
- I get the almond meal for free and that is very pricey stuff.
- The almonds are from Australia so haven’t been shipped around the world to get to me.
- The packaging is minimal (a plastic bag around a kilo of almonds versus those nasty tetra packs for my rice milk).
- It is basic food – zero additives, no preservatives, no factory handling. I just feel better drinking it than I do rice milk (or soy or any other manufactured alternative).
And what do you do with that almond meal? Well, I bake friands and it goes in those. I plan to try it in macaroons some day. This will be kind of tricky because almond meal is very dry and I’m pretty sure macaroons won’t want the moisture in my meal. I’ll probably try drying the almond meal on a cookie sheet in the oven first. Frank found a recipe for Butter Chicken that calls for ground almonds. Or I can make my Pear, Almond and Chocolate Tart.
The recipe is:
1/4 cup room temp butter
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup almond meal (I used the shy 1/2 cup of moist meal I have)
1 egg (which one of my hens laid – see, this did come from my garden 🙂 )
1 teaspoon flour
- Put Almond Cream into pre-cooked tart shell (I used pre-made filo pastry but one day I’ll get around to creating my own base)
- Peel and slice 1 pear and place on tart
- Bake at 180 C (350 F) for 20 minutes
- Cool then decorate with grated chocolate (70 grams) or decorate when they’re still warm if you like your chocolate melted
Next time I’ll grease the ramekins so it’s easier to get the tarts out and serve them on a plate. They did come out but some of the pastry got stuck damaging the beauty, but not the taste of the tarts.
UPDATE 9 Feb 2013: I make this all the time and have fine-tuned the process a little. I start with 1 cup of nuts and soak them over night. After dumping the water, rinsing then blending with new water, I get more milk than I can use in one go. I freeze the extra in small jars. I end up with 3 or 4 jars worth of milk (each lasts 3 days when used for my morning muesli). The milk is fine after defrosting.
I also dry the resulting almond meal. I spread it on a baking tray and pop it in a warm oven (I set the oven to low and turn it off as soon as it reaches that temp – 90 C I believe). I stir the meal and reheat the oven about 3 or 4 times until the meal is very dry. I then put this in a takeaway container and pop it in the freezer. I guess it’s more than 1 cup of meal but it’s easy to scoop out what I need for a recipe from the dried meal box. If I don’t dry it first the meal freezes as a block and needs to be fully defrosted before I can use it. Plus it’s a better substitute for normal flour when dried as it doesn’t add too much water to my recipes. I generally substitute about 1/4-1/3 of the flour in a recipe with almond meal and reduce the liquid in the recipe by a small amount. The end result is always richer than any flour based baked good. It works really well in any sweet bakery product and I no longer make a cookie, sweet bread or muffin without almond meal.