In my last post, I mentioned that I suffer from lactose intolerance. And when I write suffer, I mean suffer. Giving up ice cream has been one of the most difficult and challenging things I’ve ever had to do.
But as delicious as ice cream may be, the onslaught of abdominal pain and discomfort which resulted from eating the stuff provided more than enough motivation to change my habits. It’s been three years and I can gladly write that going lactose-free has not been without recompense. Rather, going lactose-free opened the door to the enjoyment of almond-milk!
As a chef, my job requires that I consume (at least a little) dairy. There’s no getting around tasting things in the kitchen. How else can we judge the quality of our food? Also, living lactose-free does not necessarily mean living dairy-free. I can eat cheese, and I do. “Cheese,” Harold McGee writes, “yogurt, and other cultured foods are essentially free of lactose because the fermenting bacteria use it as fuel.”
I’ve never been a fan of meat alternatives. I’ve never enjoyed the lusterless quality of imposter-meats. They rarely provide the same texture, and never provide the same flavor. Alternative milks, on the other hand, are something completely different. Various cultures from across the globe, and going far back in history, have made “milk” from all sorts of things. Coconuts, rice, and almonds are just a few of these.
All of these alternatives to dairy offer something extraordinary flavor-wise, and (in my humble opinion) taste far better than cow’s milk. When is the last time you smelled the milk you drink? When’s the last time you really tasted it, objectively? That said, I never enjoyed the flavor of milk to begin with. As a child, it was just a wet background for cereal. It wasn’t until I had to cut it from my diet that I began enjoying the flavor behind breakfast cereal.
As a curious adult, and chef, I wanted to explore the process of making milk from almonds. Wolff’s regularly stocks good quality fresh, raw almonds. I used these exact almonds to produce the following creamy and delicious almond milk.
Homemade Almond Milk
Makes about 2 cups
1 cup raw almonds
2 cups water, plus more for soaking
sweeteners like honey, sugar, agave syrup, or maple syrup, to taste
1. Soak the almonds overnight or up to 2 days.
2. Drain and rinse the almonds.
3. Combine the almonds, water, and sweetener in a blender.
4. Blend at high speed for 2 minutes.
5. Strain the almonds.
6. Press all the almond’s milk from the almond meal.
7. Consume, or refrigerate up to 2 days.