Generally speaking, I use whole, raw cow's milk for cooking and baking because I adore it and have access to it from my family's farm, but there are a few things that truly stand out when made with almond milk. My recipes that I consider almond milk to be indispensable for are matcha, tres leches rice pudding, and overnight coconut oat porridge. The clean, mild almond flavor achievable if you make your own, using high quality almonds, is worth the minor hassle of making your own.
Making almond milk can be expensive when using organic raw almonds (which you should if you have access to them, for the best tasting milk), so I suggest buying the nuts in bulk. I buy raw, certified organic almonds in bulk from Tierra Farm, which are available in a lot of food co-ops as well as my family's farm store. These muslin bags are great for buying bulk almonds without generating plastic waste. I use the leftover almond pulp in pancakes, muffins, and quick breads, or add it back into porridges for a nubbly texture.
I prefer to make almond milk unsweetened, so I can control the amount of sugar in my final dish, but feel free to sweeten with dates if using a high powered blender, or honey/maple syrup depending on your preferred flavor. Start with a small amount of sweetener and add to taste.
-1 cup organic raw almonds
-4 cups filtered water
-1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
-sweetener of your choice (optional) -honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, dates-
-tiny pinch sea salt
-high powdered blender, a food processor is ok too, but will take longer to blend
-nut milk bag or finely woven cheesecloth (I use these organic muslin bags, they're reusable, durable, and machine washable.)
Soak almonds overnight in enough filtered water to fully submerge nuts. I use a glass mason jar for this step, and store them in the fridge. You can soak the nuts a little longer than overnight, I let them go for one-two days sometimes, but not too long as it will shorten the shelf life of your milk.
Dump soaking water, and rinse almonds well. Place almonds, vanilla, and salt in blender along with 4 cups cold filtered water, blend on high for about 2-3 minutes. You want to extract as much as possible from the almonds, so don't skimp on the blend time. Let this mixture sit in the blender for 10-15 minutes to really infuse things and optimize the almond
Line large bowl or jar with finely woven cheesecloth/straining bag, and pour almond mixture in. Carefully twist and squeeze cloth until all moisture is removed, reserve remaining almond meal for use later.
Pour almond milk into a clean jar, stir in sweetener if using. I find almond milk lasts for about 3-4 days in fridge, as long as it's kept cold. Shake before use!