1 cup raw almonds (not roasted)
5 1/2 cups filtered water — 2 cups for soaking the nuts, 3 1/2 cups for blending
3 to 4 pitted dates OR 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional, to taste)
3 pieces vanilla bean, thinly sliced crosswise OR 1 tablespoon vanilla extract OR 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (optional, if you’d like vanilla-flavored milk)
1. Soak the almonds in water overnight.
Add 2 cups of filtered water to the almonds in a measuring cup or other deep container (make sure they’re totally submerged). Let them sit at least overnight or (even better) for 24 hours.
2. Drain the almonds and put them in a blender with 1 1/2 cups fresh water and flavorings.
Now’s the time to add sweeteners, vanilla, or any other spices you want; try a dash of cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, or finely grated lemon zest.
3. Blend on high speed for about 3 minutes.
Stop after three minutes, scrape down the sides of the blender and add up to 2 more cups of filtered water. Less water = thicker, more intensely flavored milk.
Now’s also the time to check if you’ve got the right level of sweetness (and add more if you like). Once you’re happy, blend again for another minute.
4. Line a sieve or colander lined with a few layers of cheesecloth to strain the mixture through.
5. Pour your almond gunk slowly into the sieve and let the liquid drain into a bowl below.
After about 10 minutes, you might need to push aside some of the pulp to make room for pouring more of the nut milk through.
6. After about 20 minutes, squeeze the almonds to extract every last drop of milk.
For this step, the pulp should still be moist, but have no milk dripping through the strainer. Draw up the edges of the cheesecloth and carefully twist them together at the top. Squeeze the pulp gently to extract the milk, being careful not to let the pulp itself squeeze out.
Tip: You can keep the almond pulp and sneak it into oatmeal, smoothies, and baked goods for some added nutty goodness.
7. If you aren’t using the milk immediately, pour it into a jar and refrigerate.
Nut milks tend to separate as they sit — if this happens, just shake the jar or stir with a spoon.
What to do with your new magic milk? Well…
It works pretty much anywhere you’d use coconut or soy milk.