Homemade Cinnamon Almond Milk
For over a year now I’ve made a weekly batch or two of homemade non-dairy, plant-based milks. Prior to that we rotated between various types from the market. That is, until I discovered that these plant-based milks could be simply and affordably made at home. Win! Better still, I could control the freshness and quality of ingredients, consistency, and could play around with different flavor blends.
It was a beverage revelation, and we’ve been hooked ever since.
Also referred to as alternative or alt milks, the basic premise is to soak raw, unsalted nuts or seeds (or coconut or grains) in water, blitz them in a blender with fresh water the next morning, and strain the liquid from the solid pulp. Homemade milk in three easy steps!
The process is highly customizable, so each milk can be made completely to your liking. We use ours mostly as a “creamer” for our morning coffee, so I tend to use a smaller proportion of water. However, if you want a thinner, more “drinkable” milk or just want to stretch a dollar further, increase the water to thin it out.
Ours is kept pretty basic. I typically add a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of high quality vanilla extract, and maybe a dash of cinnamon or other spice to provide a hint of sweet and flavor. If you prefer one a touch more sweet, add a couple fresh dates or a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup. A tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder makes a wholesome chocolate-y treat.
I am constantly trying something new. Hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds are all fair game, and there is an endless number of spice combinations for flavoring. Our favorites so far are cinnamon almond, cinnamon pecan, vanilla macadamia, and a fun autumn treat, pumpkin-spiced pepita milk! Like I said, it’s easy to customize and my suggestion: experiment, experiment, experiment.
[clockwise from top left: cinnamon pecan, pumpkin-spiced pepita, cinnamon almond]
My husband and I love cow’s milk and everything dairy. We drink milk with our desserts, and frequently use it to make milkshakes, ice cream and homemade cheese and yogurt. (We are Wisconsinites.) So why do we also make alt milks?
Honestly, it’s because we enjoy them in our coffee more than we do cow’s milk or half-and-half. We also like them because they offer variety in our diets. They are super easy to make at home, and far cheaper than what you’ll find at the market.
What’s in it for me?
Almond milk in particular is high in vitamin E, fiber, potassium, heart-healthy fats and antioxidants, and is lower in calories and saturated fat than most dairy options and other non-dairy milks. It lends a mild nuttiness and blends into a very smooth milk. Like I said, we love it in coffee — both our iced cold-brew and steaming hot Americano. It’s also great in smoothies, poured over porridge or granola, used in place of milk in batters, or as a refreshing drink on its own.
For those who have an allergy or intolerance to dairy, casein, lactose or soy, homemade nut and seed milks can be a godsend. If you do follow a strict dairy-free diet, remember that it’s important to include other sources of calcium. Many of the store-bought alt milks are fortified to account for these needs. To boost the calcium content of your homemade nut or seed milks, you can blend in a tablespoon of tahini.
Whether you choose it for allergy reasons or otherwise, wholesome, all-natural nut or seed milk is a great choice for your health. Free from processed sugar, additives, and preservatives, it can be used anywhere you might use regular milk. Once you taste the difference between homemade and store-bought versions (and look at your cost savings) — or taste it for the first time, you’ll be hooked, too!
Tell me... Do you use or make alternative milks in your home? Is it for allergy reasons, or do you simply prefer the taste? What are your favorites?
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 2 to 3 cups water, plus more to soak
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp high-quality cinnamon (we love Penzeys Cinnamon)
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- Place almonds in a bowl or large measuring cup and cover with enough water to cover. Refrigerate to soak for at least 6 hours or up to overnight -- I typically get it going right before bed so they're ready to go first thing in the morning.
- Drain and rinse almonds thoroughly, and transfer into a high-powered blender. Add 1 cup of the water, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Run the blender at a low setting for 1 minute, then increase the speed to high and run until the almonds are blitzed into very small pieces. Stop the blender, add another 1 cup of water, and run again on high 2 to 3 minutes.
- Stop the blender again and check the consistency. If you prefer a thicker, creamier milk, move ahead to the next step. If you prefer a thinner milk, add as much of the final 1 cup water (or more) as you wish until the desired consistency is achieved.
- Now it's time to strain. Place a small sieve over a 4-cup measuring cup or large-mouth jar/container, and line with a nut milk bag*, a jelly bag**, a couple layers of fine cheesecloth or even a clean tea towel. If you use one of the latter two, leave a good amount hanging over the sides.
- Pour the blitzed almond mixture into the lined sieve, and set aside for about 10 minutes to allow the liquid to drain from the solid pulp. When the pulp looks dry, gather the sides of your bag or cloth to squeeze, wring, and gently coax out the excess liquid. This might take a minute.
- Set aside the sieve and pulp (see HGN Notes), and transfer your almond milk into a tightly sealing bottle or jar. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 5 to 7 days. Shake or swirl jar well before using, as the mixture will separate upon sitting.
Don't let any of this wonderful milk go to waste! Freeze extra in ice cube trays, and store in a zipper-top bag or tightly-sealing container in the freezer. This is a great way to add creaminess and nutrition to your smoothies, and to make iced coffee extra cold and flavorful!
The leftover pulp can be re-purposed by dehydrating it into "flour" in the oven, or a dehydrator, if you have one. For quicker, simpler use you can add the wet pulp to porridge, baked goods, or smoothies for a boost of protein, healthy fat and satiating fiber. Read my post with instructions here: http://buff.ly/2bp7dZj.
+ Autumn pumpkin-spiced milk: Add 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice + 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
+ Sweeten your milk: Add 1 to 2 Tbsp honey, maple syrup, agave or coconut sugar; or 2 to 3 fresh dates that soaked for 5 minutes in a bowl of hot water (you could also soak them overnight with the nuts/seeds).
+ Thin out your milk: We use our milk as a "coffee creamer," so the 2 to 3 cups will be on the creamy side. I've seen recipes from other folks who use anywhere from 4 to 7 cups of water. It's all in how you prefer the consistency of your milk.
+ Boost the calcium content: Blend in 1 Tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste).
*Nut milk bags are for sale on Amazon, and you could probably find them in a specialty cookware store.
**I bought a jelly-strainer bag at Ace Hardware. Cheap, and amazing. Super easy to use and clean.
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