Fresh and Easy Homemade Almond Milk
If you are concerned about carcinogens in your almond milk, keep reading… The solution may be much simpler than you think!
Most of the time, the “organic” label is your safest bet for finding real and safe food for your family. By law, organic is supposed to “do no harm”. It means that these foods are uncontaminated with pesticides and other harmful ingredients, and are gmo-free. But there are exceptions. At times, unwanted ingredients are allowed in, usually because there is no viable way to keep them out. Still, these exceptions are generally limited and temporary. But not always.
One such exception…
For years, as an avid label reader, I would see Carrageenan in the short list of ingredients for packaged almond milk. Because I seldom purchase this product, I gave it very little thought. Homemade almond milk is prettier, and thicker, and just better, in my opinion. Still, in the pantry sat one or two boxes of almond milk, in case it was needed in a pinch.
The official stand of the FDA is that carrageenan is deemed “safe” in low doses. Still, its inclusion in almond milk and organic products is apparently more a result of foxes guarding the hen house, than it is of safety. Carregeenan begins its life in a very beneficial state. The controversy comes with regards to the way it is processed. There are varying degrees of degradation in food-safe carageenan. After many studies (which pro-carrageenan agencies claim are flawed), Carrageenan has been determined to be a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by both the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Research Council of the United States.
You can learn the “hows” and “whys” in this article from The Food Babe.
To be fair, if you want to read an argument FOR carrageenan, here is one from Food Insight (this organization also promotes GMO’s; I am not advocating for this site). Food Insight actually found my Facebook page and commented. I do recommend getting all sides when it comes to anything you are feeding your family, especially if it is a product which you use in great quantity. Personally, I also make an effort to know who is behind the information.
Personal thoughts: I do not like name-calling. I think it is an intimidation tactic. If I simply want information in order to make an informed decision about what goes into my body, calling me a “fear-monger” will more than likely repel me. I do not make decisions for anyone else, but I am smart enough to research information and decide for myself. And I respect the ability of my smart readers to do likewise.
All things considered, if an ingredient is questionable and I really don’t need it, I am always going to opt for the easy alternative.
Moving on to the easy solution…
If you like your almond milk – and unless you can’t eat tree nuts, why wouldn’t you? – it only takes a couple of minutes to make your own. If you have never done this before, you may wonder why you ever bothered buying it in the first place. It is a little like buying a pb&j sandwich. Sure, it will save you a minute or two to buy them pre-made, but seriously, how hard is it to slather peanut butter and jelly on bread?
If you keep these few items on hand, you can make almond milk to order any time you want it.
- raw almonds (which keep well in the freezer too)
- a blender
- a bowl
- a fine strainer and/or cheesecloth or a good nut milk bag
- optional: sweetener or vanilla
Also, highly recommended – save the pulp! You can freeze it and use it for all kinds of dishes, including gluten-free dessert crusts (my favorite).
Also, if you are going to do this regularly, invest in a good nut milk bag. You can rinse and reuse them, they are not likely to tear, like cheesecloth is, and they are easy to handle.
Throw your almonds and water into a blender. I use my handy dandy little magic bullet and make it as I need it. I like about 1 part raw whole almonds to 3 parts water (by measure, not weight). Example: 1/2 cup almonds and 1 1/2 cups water.
You can presoak your almonds overnight, if you like. This will make them softer and generally more bioavailable.
If you like, you can add flavorings, like vanilla.
Blend like you have never blended before!
… just blend thoroughly.
Pour milk through a fine strainer into a bowl.
You can use a spoon to swoosh the milk around, allowing more to go through the strainer.
Getting every bit out is much easier and quicker by using cheesecloth at this point. Just put the wet pulp into a square of cheese cloth and squeeze out the rest of the milk over the strainer. I use two layers of cheesecloth.
OR… Use a nut bag, my personal preference. They save money as they can be reused and are even easier to man-handle (than cheesecloth) when squeezing out the milk.
Now you have beautiful delicious dairy free almond milk!
And a bonus! Save this pulp for use in other recipes… dessert crusts, crackers, etc. You can accumulate it in a freezer bag to use as needed.
Beautiful clean fresh raw almond milk – Carrageenan not required.
Enjoy immediately or refrigerate.
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