Use this recipe for year round and Passover to make the best Almond milk you will ever have. Almond milk has been around for millennia, especially on the Jewish table. Iraqi Jewry traditionally serve a rose water-sweetened almond milk, called hariri for the break fast after Yom Kippur. Versions with orange blossom water can also be found. But almond milk has a long and storied history in many communities (not just among Jews); most often is is used during and around periods of food limitations, such as Lent in the Christian world and Ramadan in the Muslim world, where it remains a homemade treat to prevent contamination by any extracts made with alcohol. Almond milk requires a lot of straining--there are several rounds of letting the mixture drip slowly through cheesecloth here--so it’s the kind of recipe that you should prepare on a day when you are cooking other things or puttering around the house. Once the initial prep is done, you return to it from time to time for a quick stir or transfer to another container. This version is full of vanilla flavor, right from the gorgeous vanilla bean. Using the beans may be a bit pricier, but the taste is worth every penny.
- Cook Time
- Prep Time
- 4 cups ServingsServings
- 8 1/2 cups water
- 1 (16-ounce) bag ground almonds (see kitchen tips)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 vanilla beans, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved, pod reserved
- 1/16 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons honey or 3 tablespoons agave nectar
1) Line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth (the picture below shows 4 layers, so the pattern of the two layer across each other is easily visible) and set it over an 8-cup measuring pitcher with a spout. Set aside.
2) Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread the almond meal over a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle the sugar over it, tossing lightly to coat. Bake for 5 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes, allowing the mixture to toast gently, but not allowing it to burn.
3) Pour the water, toasted almond meal, the vanilla bean pod and salt into a medium saucepan set over high heat and stir to combine. Bring to a rolling boil and remove from the heat.
4) Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath: Fill a very large bowl with ice water. The bowl should be large enough for the pot to sit in comfortably. When the almond-vanilla mixture boils, set it into the ice water and let stand for 30 minutes.
5) Remove the vanilla bean pod from the pot and pour the remaining warm mixture into a strong blender ( see kitchen tips). Blend on high for 1 minute. Let stand in the blender for 5 minutes, or until it settles and begins to separate.
6) Blend again for 1 minute. Pour about 1/3 of the mixture through the prepared strainer lined with cheesecloth, reserving the rest in the pitcher. Allow to drip into the measuring pitcher for 30 minutes. (You will need to do this in batches unless you have a huge strainer.)
7) Pick up the edges of the cheesecloth and gently tilt the mixture so it coats each section of the cloth. Allow to drip through for another 10 minutes. Remove the strainer and cheesecloth set-up, rinse the strainer well, and line it with a clean single layer of cheesecloth. Pour the strained mixture from the pitcher into a clean bowl. Repeat four more times. (I kid you not, 5 times in total). You are getting rid of the almond silt. For a very clean sip, strain again while chilled just before serving. If you prefer it rustic style with pulp, only strain 3 times and serve.
8) Add the reserved vanilla seeds, honey or agave and whisk gently until fully incorporated.
Kitchen Tips: Traditionally, almond milk is made from whole almonds, soaked overnight. The longer they soak, the creamier the milk, but the boil and ½-hour method is a handy alternative. No matter how you soak them, toasting brings out a different, more complex flavor. If you want an ultra-smooth milk that is still toasty, use slivered, peeled almonds, but know that the flavor will not be as intense.