Creamy Homemade Almond & Coconut Milk - in 5 easy steps!

It was about 4 years ago when I decided to quit drinking dairy milk. My reasoning was because dairy milk is high in sugar. My reason for avoiding all things high in sugar was so I could... eat sugar! I am very addicted to candy. I love candy like a crack head loves crack, okay? I'm talking SOUR candy... I like the stuff that makes your tongue peel when you have eaten too many. I didn't just cut out dairy milk, but I also cut out all types of condiments such as Ketchup and salad dressings, as well as any and all fruit juices. I have never been a soda drinker or a dessert eater so those things weren't a problem. I wanted to cut out extra sugar anywhere in my diet possible, simply so I could eat candy whenever I wanted and not feel guilty about it.

It was then that I started purchasing unsweetened almond milk. I was in love with the idea, only 35 calories in a full cup, with no added sugar!? Jackpot. For a long time I thought I was making the healthiest choice by drinking almond milk over dairy milk. It wasn't until recently, when I attempted a Whole30 (that lasted a whole 11) that I realized some of the unsavory ingredients in commercial almond milks. It is basically a few almonds, water, and a bunch of thickeners and emulsifiers. One ingredient that really bothered me after I looked into it was carrageenan. It is derived from sea weed so you would think it is good for you, right? Wrong. It actually causes troubles for a lot of people, specifically with internal inflammation. Well, isn't dairy inflammatory? Yes, for a lot of people it can be. So really they are trading one inflammatory product for another without realizing it.

Carrageenan is not just found in a lot of commercial almond milks and coconut milks but I have also seen it in my protein supplements, deli meats and cottage cheese. This stuff is everywhere! This was just the push I needed to make my own almond milk at home. . There are some brands out there that have done away with using carrageenan, although in my mind it was still a lot of money to pay for thickened water. Why pay $4 for that when you can make your own at home for the same price? The cost is the same, but the best part is you know exactly what is in it and you can customize it to your liking. Also a big added bonus, you get coconut or almond flour as a byproduct. Buying any kind of grain free flour at the store can be very pricey, now you can make your own and save money. If you make a couple batches a week you will be giving the stuff away. Your friends will thank you.

What will you need?
  • 1 cup raw shelled almonds, or unsweetened coconut (or you can mix the two and make coconut/almond milk!)
  • 3 cups fresh water
  • Blender
  • Nut milk bag, cheese cloth, or a very clean kitchen rag

Step 1
  • Soak almonds in water overnight. This will increase the nutrient bioavailability of the almond, allowing you to digest it better. It will also make them plump and easy to grind up in the blender.
  • Coconut does not need to soak that long, you can simply soak it for 1-3 hours. Just long enough to soften it up a little bit. I like to heat it slightly on the stove first, then let it soak. But, if you want truly raw milk then it does not need to be heated.

Step 2
  • Pour out the water from the almonds and rinse them off well. Then combine with 3 cups fresh water in the blender. (It is important NOT to use the water they have been soaking in for your milk. While the almonds soak they release phytic acid and other enzyme inhibitors that make it hard for our bodies to digest them correctly.)
  • You can simply keep the coconut in the same water and put it into the blender.

Step 3
  • Blend on the highest setting for 2-3 minutes

Step 4
  • Using a nut milk bag, cheese cloth, or a clean dish towel to strain it, pour contents from blender into a bowl. Ring out all the milk you can from the nut bag, this will leave you with a big ball of left over almond or coconut meal.

Step 5
  • Sweeten milk with sweetener of choice (optional) and place directly into the refrigerator.

Step 6 - optional
  • If you want you can simply throw away the left over almond or coconut meal, or you can make flour with it. If you want to make the flour then spread the left over meal onto a baking sheet with parchment paper and put in the oven at 170 degrees to dry out. This should take roughly 1 to 2 hours. Keep a close on eye on it so it doesn't burn, stirring it around occasionally. Once there is no moisture left throw it into the food processor and process into a fine powder. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Shelf Life: The milk will last only 3-4 days but the flours will last months if you keep them cold. 

Edited to add: once the coconut milk has chilled in the fridge some of the fat and creamy goodness will settle on the top. That is your coconut cream! You can skim it off and put it in the freezer to use later. Or you can mix it back into your milk. It's soooooo yummy. 

Some things to keep in mind about homemade almond or coconut milks that differs from store bought:

  • They will not have the same nutritional values. The milk in stores have been fortified with vitamins and minerals that your homemade milk will not have. The advertisement "almond milk has 50% more calcium than dairy milk" is because it is fortified with calcium, just like dairy milk is fortified with vitamin D. If you want a higher micronutrient content in your milk you can fortify it yourself with whatever micronutrient you would like. Just add it to your blender!

  • Not only are your micronutrients going to be different but so are your macronutrients. You will likely have a higher fat and protein content in your homemade milk. Commercial brands have very few actual almonds in them. A simple way to figure out your nutritional information for your milk is to measure the amount of almonds or coconut you used, look up the nutritional information for that. Then after you have filtered your milk, measure your left over almond or coconut meal and look up the nutritional information for that, keeping in mind this will be about 20% water. Subtract the numbers for the meal away from the numbers for the original amount of almonds and you have a pretty good estimate.

  • They will not be as thick as store bought milks. The ones on the shelves have multiple thickening agents in them to make them creamier. The consistency of your homemade milk will be more like skim milk. You can make it thicker by adding more almonds or coconut. If you like thicker milk try a 1:2 ratio rather than 1:3.

  • Your homemade milk will likely not be a sweet as those bought from the store. A lot of them have added sweeteners. You can easily add whatever sweetener you like to your homemade milks. Some options include: vanilla extract, prunes, figs, honey, stevia, maple syrup or even sugar if you'd like. My favorite is to use 2 figs that have been soaked in water for an hour and 1 tsp of vanilla extract.

Enjoy your fresh milk and if you like the post please share it!