Sprouting raw almonds to make almond milk

A raw almond, beginning to sprout

Have you ever made your own almond milk? I hadn’t until about a year ago, and I knew instantly that I’d never go back to the store-bought stuff in the cartons.

This… this had flavor! It actually tasted like almonds, wasn’t cloyingly sweet, and was far more nutritive than anything you might find dead on a shelf.

For optimum flavor and nourishment, I always use raw almonds that I’ve sprouted myself. It’s a fun little science project in a way, and it really is easy to do.

And a word about those raw almonds before we proceed: make sure they’re truly raw. You see, the fine folks at the USDA (in partnership with the Almond Board of California) saw fit to pass a ridiculous law that required all almonds grown in the United States to undergo pasteurization, even those that are labeled as “raw.” And while “raw” organic almonds have to be steam pasteurized, conventionally grown almonds are often sterilized with propylene oxide, a compound that the USDA’s homies, the EPA, call a “mild [central nervous system] depressant” and a “probable human carcinogen.” There is a small loophole that does allow consumers to still buy truly raw almonds directly from a farmer at a farmers’ market, or by purchasing imported raw almonds. (Do try to find and support local growers, even if our government doesn’t extend the same courtesy with legislation like this.)

Anyway, on to how to make the almond milk.

What you’ll need:

  • Filtered water
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 dried Medjool date, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon raw organic lucuma powder (optional)
  • High-speed blender or food processor
  • Nut milk bag

Step 1: Soaking/Sprouting Your Almonds
Measure out one cup of raw almonds, and cover them with cold, filtered water. Let them soak at room temperature for around four hours. (It’s OK to let them soak for several hours more, but I don’t recommend any less than four hours.) The water will become murky and brown; this is natural and is no need for alarm. Drain the almonds, rinse them with cold, filtered water. Drain, and let them sit out at room temperature for around 12 hours. I leave mine uncovered, but you’re welcome to place cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel over them. (Don’t use plastic wrap or anything that seals, as it will prevent a healthy flow of oxygen to support the sprouting.) During the sprouting stage, the almonds produce an enzyme called phytase, which helps neutralize phytic acid, a naturally occurring compound in almonds that inhibits nutrient uptake in our bodies.

After 12 hours, rinse the almonds again with cold, filtered water, and drain. You may start to see a small nub on the top of the almonds—as seen in the image at the top of this post—but don’t expect a large sprout to be visible.

Step 2: Blending
Place 3 cups of cold, filtered water into your high-speed blender or food processor. (I use a Vitamix, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love it. An expensive investment to be sure, but it’s worth every penny for me… I use it all the time!) Add the drained, sprouted almonds, the date, and the lucuma powder. Lucuma is a delicious South American fruit that’s quite rich in antioxidants, and this powder adds an excellent creamy texture to the finished almond milk, and a touch of vanilla and maple-like sweetness. (You can leave the lucuma out if you like, or use a little vanilla extract to taste, but I really do like the lucuma in mine.)

Start your blender or food processor at a low speed, and work up to the highest setting. Let the almond milk blend at top speed for about 20-30 seconds.

Step 3: Straining
You’ll need an (unfortunately named) piece of kitchen equipment called a “nut milk bag.” It’s an inexpensive, reusable, fine-mesh nylon bag that separates the almond pulp from the “milk.” Get a container large enough to hold your finished almond milk, and place the nut milk bag in it. Pour the almond milk through the bag, and gently start squeezing the liquid through.

Straining the almond milk will take a good five minutes or so, but you’ll be impressed with how much liquid comes through. Don’t be shy either; squeeze away. When finished, you’ll be left with several cups of the tastiest almond milk you’ve ever had. Enjoy it on its own, in your coffee, as a protein-rich base for smoothies, in baked goods, over cereal, or in any other place where milk is called for.

This vegan, lactose-free milk alternative will keep in the refrigerator for three to five days; just give it a good swirl before serving. As for the almond pulp that’s left, it’s marvelous to experiment with if you’re a baker. It’s great at helping muffins or cookies retain moisture, plus it adds a little subtle almond flavor, not to mention protein and fiber! You can also stick it in the dehydrator as use it as a crumble topping. Otherwise, feed it to the birds or toss it in the compost pile. (Waste not, want not!)

Finished almond milk and leftover almond pulp

Finished almond milk separated from the almond pulp using a nut milk bag