Almond Milk-Leche de Almendras

There seems to be a craze over almond milk, and rightfully so. Almond milk may be “in fashion” now, but actually it has a long history behind it. It was a staple during the middle ages, since cow’s (or goat) milk could not keep for long  without spoiling or turning into cheese (remember, no refrigeration?). Additionally, it was a cheaper version of milk, so it was more accessible to the poor.
(By the way, there’s a great medieval restaurant in Tallinn, Estonia, if you’re ever in that “neighbourhood”, called Olde Hansa. They serve only medieval dishes, processed in the style of the middle ages, made only with natural ingredients that would have been available during that time and cooked on wooden fires. Their drink menu includes almond milk, of course! Enjoying a traditional meal there is an experience not to be missed. The atmosphere couldn’t be more authentic: the restaurant and restrooms are illuminated by candlelight only, drinks are served in wooded glasses, food is served on wooden plates, and the wait-staff is dressed in period garb to name a few details…)
Almond milk was well known both in the Islamic and Christian worlds; and as it is made with nuts (vs animal), it was even considered appropriate for consumption during Lent.
I started using store-bought almond milk a few years ago, after some research. I am lactose intolerant and had been trying different types of milk (soy, lactose-free cow’s milk) to see if any of these would work for me. After consulting with my doctor, he told me that I should avoid soy milk and products at all cost. They are not a healthy option, as most of us are now aware of.
So, I limited myself to cow’s milk in my coffee and used it in cooking, if the recipe called for it. But I wasn’t satisfied.
A friend of mine has celiac disease and has been researching ways to avoid dairy, amongst other things, and she shared her recipe for almond milk with me. It’s fairly standard, and you can find a recipe for almond’s milk very easily on the internet. I’m only sharing it here because I am using it in a recipe, and want to have it readily available for those following the recipe.
And, in case you’re wondering, almonds are a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. As they are a source of complex carbohydrates, they provide lasting energy.
Almond Milk 
Ingredients, for 4 cups of almond milk
  • 1 cup of raw almonds, soaked in water overnight
  • 4 cups of filtered water
  • vanilla, honey, or ground dates for sweetness (optional)
Process
Soak the almonds in plenty of water overnight. Drain. In a blender, place 1/3 cup of the almonds with 1 cup of water. On highest speed, blend until the almonds are finely ground.
With a fine sieve or cheesecloth, strain the almond milk into another container. Repeat process with the remaining almonds and water. (If you’re going to use the milk for a savory dish, do not add any sweetener. If you’re using it as a drink, add vanilla and honey/dates in the blender to add flavour and sweetness to the milk.)
You will have almond pulp left over in your sieve. If you want to use it as almond flour in another recipe, let it dry or bake lightly in the oven.
I, however, repeat the grinding process in the blender with this pulp, by adding some of the strained almond milk. I usually can blend most of the pulp and only have about 1 tablespoon left of it. This will create a thicker milk with texture.