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A few steps are all it takes to make a liquid food that completely outshines the store-bought, packaged kind—light, fresh, mildly sweet and actually tasting of the real food it’s made from. Making nut milk involves soaking raw nuts to neutralize the enzyme inhibitors that naturally occur in nuts, meaning they become much more digestible. The easiest and most cost-effective nut milk to make is almond milk. Always use raw almonds; roasted will not work.

Nut milk bags are available at health food stores. Alternatively, use a piece of cheesecloth inside a metal strainer; you may need to double the cloth to ensure that tiny nut pieces don’t sneak through.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 5 cups water, preferably filtered

Directions:

Soak the almonds in a bowl of water overnight at room temperature, or for 8 to 12 hours. Drain the nuts and discard the soaking water.

Place the nuts in a high-speed blender with the 5 cups water. (The exact ratio of nuts to water that you blend is up to you; it depends on the consistency and creaminess you desire. Alter the ratio according to your preference.) Or pour the nuts and water slowly through a masticating juicer.

Blend the nuts and water until you see the nuts pulverize and the liquid turn creamy white. If using a juicer, you may want to pass the liquid through twice. If the mixture gets caught up in the gear, press “reverse” for a few seconds to dislodge, then continue, adding fewer almonds.

Place a nut milk bag in a bowl or jug, with the sides of the bag hanging far over the edge. Pour the liquid slowly in and let it drain through at its own pace.

Lift the bag up so more milk drains out and gently pull its drawstrings tight. Now gently twist the bag from the top down and squeeze the contents to extract all the milk possible without letting the pulp through.

To store, pour the nut milk into a glass jar with an airtight lid and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days. Try to fill it to the very top of the jar to retain the milk’s freshness. If you have more than you can use, freeze the extra in freezer-safe containers. Shake before using, as nut milk separates naturally.

Variation: To make vanilla-almond milk, pour almond milk into a blender with 1/2 to 1 vanilla bean (or a dash of vanilla extract), filtered water and dates, to taste. If desired, add a pinch of turmeric.

Adapted from The Juice Generation, by Eric Helms with Amely Greeven (Touchstone, 2014).