I love the process of making almond milk. For some reason it’s just so gratifying. It’s incredibly easy and turns one ingredient (almonds) into two insanely useful products (almond milk AND the leftover pulp). The milk itself is a whole ‘nother beast from the store bought stuff and only takes about 3 active-minutes (meaning not including the 6-12 hours of soaking time) to make. Price wise, it turns out to be about the same as leading almond milk brands ($3/half gallon) if you’re able to score the raw almonds on a decent sale, which is pretty common at the grocery stores around me (around $5/pound). The best part is this recipe is completely waste-free and contains no additives (pretty much all commercial almond milk contains Vitamin A Palmitate which is sourced from palm plantations..palm oil is wreaking havoc on the environment at a rate of 3x traditional fossil fuels and destroys the habitats of countless endangered species). When you don’t have different kinds of thickeners and gums, preservatives, texturizing agents and ‘natural flavors’, but instead just simply almonds, it is so much more delicious, refreshing and sipping a glass of it always feels like the right thing to be doing.
When I began really examining the amount of garbage/waste I produce, I knew right away I would need a high powered blender as my recycling was always full of coconut milk cans and almond milk cartons. My super generous mom got me one as a present and it has been used every single day, usually multiple times per day, since. Thanks mom for helping me lead a life filled with less guilt and destruction and for being a good example of resourcefulness for me growing up.
You can find more of my zero waste recipes here: https://dearguts.com/tag/zero-waste/
Before I head into the recipe portion of this post, I’d like you to take a peek into your fridge and pantry. When most people think of climate change, they think in terms of miles per gallon; they think of factory farms, power plants and corporate greed. A common overlooked contributor to our melting glaciers? Garbage. Our trash is responsible for over 36% of all greenhouse gas emissions! If we generated no waste, as in everything we consumed was either compostable or recyclable, it’d be equivalent to using 75% less electricity in our homes or reducing all car usage by two-thirds.
Now back to your fridge. What percentage of things are covered in disposable, single-use packaging (likely plastic)? Do your salad greens come in a plastic bag, to be paired with your salad dressing from a plastic bottle? That plastic bag and bottle will outlive you, as plastic is not biodegradable (meaning it will be on this planet forever), and are destroying our oceans (for more on this, read into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an accumulation of trash in the Pacific ocean that is hundreds of miles wide. Also watch Netflix’s Mission Blue). Making your own salad dressing takes no time at all, tastes better and afterwards you’ve also learned a new skill, something you can continually get better at and have an end result you’re proud of. What does buying salad dressing do for you, other than save 4 minutes/month? Your convenience is not worth all this garbage piling up around you. We have a president that doesn’t believe in global warming, there are no excuses.
Now what about your pantry? Most people are met with things like single-servings of oatmeal, individually wrapped, sitting inside a cardboard box. This is a pretty depressing sight considering all of this trash is just so completely unnecessary. Everything needed to recreate your breakfast can easily be bought with no packaging whatsoever and not only will the taste and texture be immensely better, you’ll also save money (it may cost you an additional 30 seconds to make though). Oats, apples, sugar, cinnamon. 4 simple ingredients somehow turns into this:
Just…why? Seriously, why? It’s unfathomable how much energy goes into creating all of those additional chemicals, all in the name of saving someone 30 seconds in the morning. Dried beans are much healthier, absolutely taste better and are ~400% less expensive than canned beans, yet Costco, the king of bulk stores, doesn’t even sell dried beans. They most definitely sell palettes of canned beans, though. “Between 1990 and 2000, Americans wasted a total of 7.1 million tons of cans: enough to manufacture 316,000 Boeing 737 airplanes—or enough to reproduce the world’s entire commercial airfleet 25 times.”
Okay, now back to almond milk. Thanks everyone for reading and thanks for doing your best to stand up against commonplace wastefulness. The first step in making almond milk is soaking the nuts for at least 6 hours. I have a post coming up on the process/benefits of soaking + sprouting but, in short, raw nuts (seeds and grains, too) have enzyme inhibitors which stops them from sprouting prematurely, which is necessary for the plant but interfere with nutrient absorption when we eat them. Soaking them reduces those inhibitors, allowing us to digest them easier and therefore get more nutrients out of them. The amount of water you use depends on how you intend on using the almond milk…for cooking/baking I use a ratio of 1 cup nuts to 2 cups water, which results in a thicker milk, but for just casually drinking I like 1 cup nuts to 4 cups water. It’s light, refreshing and cost-effective. After soaking your almonds, rinse them then put them in the blender with the desired amount of water. Blend for about 1-2 minutes.
After blending, strain the pulp out and that’s it! For straining, I use my reusable produce bags and they are, in a word, perfect..just the right fineness to keep all the pulp in but wide enough to let the milk flow out quickly. They wash/dry really well too. Be sure to save the pulp as it’s endlessly useful..I dry mine out as well as I can, then put it in a tupperware and freeze it. It stays good in the fridge for ~1 week but I can’t keep up with it since Burton drinks so much almond milk. If you wanted to go so far as to dry it out in the oven, it’d be completely shelf-stable.
Tomorrow I’ll be posting a recipe that makes use of that leftover almond pulp – raw brownie protein bars. They’re probably my favorite thing.