Almond milk is a milk substitute created by finely grinding almonds together with water. It enjoys a long history as a popular food. Medieval European recipes frequently called for almond milk. As well, it has always been a popular beverage in the Middle East. The modern blender makes the composition of almond milk much easier than it would have been in the Middle ages, because the blended almonds are much finer, resulting in a finer consistency milk.
One of the reasons for the popularity of almond milk in the Middle Ages was its high protein content, and its ability to keep better than milk from dairy sources. If cow, sheep, or goat milk wasn’t prepared quickly to make cheese or butter, it soon soured. Almond milk, conversely, could be made as needed, in the quantities needed. Further, dry almonds were easy to store and did not require the cold temperatures for storing fresh milk.
Today, almond milk is particularly popular among those who are part of the Raw Food movement. Supporters for Raw Food preparation believe that cooking foods deprives them of their highest mineral and vitamin content. Foods eaten raw, on the other hand, are believed to be higher in natural nutrients. Merely soaking almonds in a jar of water in the refrigerator for a day, then blending and straining the liquid can make almond milk. The high protein content is comparable to milk, and most prefer the taste to soy or rice milk.
Almond milk is indisputably nutritious with little to no saturated fat, unlike cow’s milk, and no lactose, which many find indigestible. Some doctors suggest, however, that almond milk should not be given to children transitioning from formulas, as early introduction of nuts to a child’s diet may predispose the child to severe nut allergies. Obviously, anyone with a peanut allergy should verify no almond allergy exists prior to using the product.
Contrary to the Raw Food movement, most recipes call for the almonds to be boiled, prior to soaking. As well, many recipes call for almond milk made from roasted almonds. Many prefer almond milk made from roasted rather than raw almonds, since it yields a slightly richer flavor.
One can find commercially made almond milk in natural food stores. It does not yet have the popularity of soy or rice milk, so it is a little harder to find. It makes an excellent substitution for milk products in many recipes. However, recipes that require a high fat content milk or half-and-half may not produce the same results with almond milk. Almond milk lends itself particularly well to recipes for pancakes and is also excellent in smoothies.