Home vs. Store: Almond Milk

So, the first HOMEmade vs. STOREbought installment is Almond Milk. I drink almond milk on a regular basis since I can't have cow's milk. The store bought almond milk is certainly not bad, and I prefer it to rice and soy milks, but I wondered how hard would this be to make? How would it compare to store bought?

Luckily, it's a breeze to make (those Almond Breeze people weren't kidding), soaking overnight is the only critical timely step, but since it can be done while you're sleeping, pretty dang easy. Here's the breakdown (followed by the recipe & verdict):

Cost of Homemade: $1.40 / 3.5 = $0.40 per serving

Cost of Storebought: $3.69 / 8 = $0.46 per serving (Almond Breeze Brand)

Active Cooking Time (includes peeling time, although it is optional): 1 hour, 30 minutes (60 minutes were peeling the shells from the almonds)

Ingredients of Homemade: almonds, filtered water, honey, vanilla

Ingredients of Storebought: almond milk (filtered water, almonds), evaporated cane juice, calcium carbonate, sea salt, potassium citrate, carrageenan, sunflower lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, D-alpha-tocopherol (Almond Breeze Brand)

Almond Milk
1 c. whole almonds - $1.22
3 c. water - $0.00
2 tsp. honey (more or less to taste) - $0.10
1/2 tsp vanilla (if you want vanilla flavored milk) - $0.08

Soak the almonds overnight in water (the water should just cover the nuts), covered.

The next morning (or however long you can wait), drain the almonds. If you want, you can toss them in the blender as is. I remove the shells (at this point, after soaking, they peel off rather easily anyway) prior. I start by banging each lightly with a mallet to break the shells. Then they easily peel off. It's a labor intensive step, but seeing as it can be done on the sofa, not really that difficult.

Add the almonds, honey and vanilla (optional) into a blender with 1 1/2 c. water. Blend this mixture until the almonds are ground and then add the remaining 1 1/2 c. water. Blend for about a minute or so until the mixture is smooth. 

If you want a thicker mixture and don't mind the pulp, you're all set. Since I was used to store bought almond milk and prefer a smoother texture, I simply strained mine through a nut milk bag, squeezing to get all the goodness out. If you want, you can use a tea towel or something similar. The nut milk bag is not a bad investment if you plan on making in regularly, but not necessary.

To store, place the milk in a sealed container and refrigerate. I put mine in a ceramic milk bottle (available here). It will last about 3 days in the fridge.

*To make a more creamy milk, use 2 cups water. For a thinner milk, use 4 cups. I wouldn't really use any more than that ratio as it tends to get pretty watery if you do, but it's all up to you and your tastebuds.

The pulp that remains at the end can be stored in the freezer for use in pie crusts, granola bars and similar recipes.

Verdict: Based on flavor alone, I would go with homemade. Based on convenience, obviously store bought wins hands down. I will probably use a combination of the two in the future - homemade if I feel like making it or have a recipe that I will use it in (ice cream comes to mind) or don't want to make a trip to the store. For topping cereal, the flavor difference isn't really noticeable. Because the flavor is so superior though, you might find yourself drinking it more often even if you don't regularly drink store bought. Short version: If you use almond milk regularly, it's an easy homemade item. If you use it occasionally, stick with store bought as it tends to have a longer shelf life and the cost difference is minimal.

6 lovely comments:

  1. Very interesting! I've been really curious about doing this since store-bought almond milk isn't cheap... I'm going to save this post in case I decide to take the plunge!

  2. Yeah, as you can see, it's not a huge cost difference, but it tastes delicious and isn't very hard to make. Let me know if you give it a try!

  3. Why do you peel off the skins if you are using a nut milk bag? And is it ok to eat the skins? What is the nutritional difference?

  4. Darlene, I peel them simply for aesthetic preferences. The milk is whiter when you don't blend the skins. When left on, it's more tan in color. It's perfectly fine to leave them on, just personal preference.I don't know the nutritional differences though between skin on and off. I heard that the skins are nutritional and offer some antioxidant benefits.

  5. I'm loving your kitchen setup with your pots and ladles all hanging there! Off to see if you have a post on it. We are just getting into almond milk here and I love it. I must get a decent blender to make some.

  6. Hehe, thanks Heather. If you haven't found it, it's here: http://thesaucykitchen.blogspot.com/2010/09/storage-solutions-mini-pot-rack.html. My husband made it after he made our large pot rack because we were always reaching for measuring spoons and cups and it's much easier when they are within arm's reach. I still haven't gotten to a real tutorial, but I have basic directions in the comments of the original post.