I have been obsessed with almond milk ever since I discovered Lulu in Beijing. Sold at every market here for 7 yuan a liter, this boxed almond milk has been my new alternative to chamomile for a soothing right-before-bed drink. I also have it at breakfast mixed with green tea, or at dinner whenever my fridge has out of soju or vodka or anything to mix a drink with. Lulu is fine cold, but so delicious when warm that I can unconciously go through a whole box in one sitting.
So naturally I had to make my own. Store-bought Lulu may be addictive, but the homemade version is so transcendent that it makes me forget the 3 or 4 times I had to strain every batch because the mesh in my colander isn't fine enough. But c'est la vie. If you have a very fine-mesh colander to strain out the minute particles of puréed almond, making this will be a breeze.
The results of this first homemade trial were either sipped straight, or heated to go with warm honey and bananas (recipe below). Some other ways to use homemade almond milk:
- In coffee in place of milk/cream
- Stirred with green, black, or barley tea
- Baked into cookies in place of, or in addition to, vanilla extract
I got the bananas and honey idea from Food & Wine, but the instructions on making the almond milk itself come from an Australian food site. The author says he adapted the recipe from the 14th century tome Le Vandier de Taillevent. Taillevent! Folks, you'll be drinking a piece of gastronomical history here.
Homemade Almond Milk with Bananas and Honey Adapted from cuisine.com.au and Food & Wine
Serves 2, with plenty of milk left over for your sipping pleasure
1 cup raw-skinned almonds 2 cups water 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons honey 2 medium-sized bananas, sliced 1/2 inch thick
Special equipment: Blender, very fine sieve or cheese cloth (If your sieve is not fine enough, you may have to pass the mixture through 3 or 4 times, like I did. A little texture is fine, a lot is just plain annoying.)
Bring the water to the boil, then remove from heat. Pour over the almonds and leave to stand for five minutes, or a few hours or overnight for a richer milk. Place mixture in a blender and puree until silky smooth. Pass through a very fine-mesh sieve or cheese cloth and discard solids.
In a small nonstick skillet, warm the honey. Add the bananas, and cook over moderate heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Scape the mixture into small bowls or teacups and pour in warm almond milk. Serve immediately, with spoons of course.
Almond milk can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days.