Homemade Vanilla Bean Almond Milk

February 2015

The motor roared, the boat rocketed up, and slammed down repeatedly, but he held the extended rope calmly, effortlessly. His single ski cut into the glassy surface, and the water sprung forth like a choreographed fountain. His lean legs bobbled ever so slightly before he jumped and defied the turbulent wake. The rope still seemed to hang loosely in his hands.

My brother made waterskiing look easy, too easy.

Homemade Almond Milk by With The Grains-01

Summer after summer I had watched Shayne glide and jump over Lake Geoffrey like a pro. I was always content just to watch, but when I was fourteen, I finally had the urge to waterski. With most of my jitters focused on a fear of water snakes, I hadn’t processed how difficult gliding over water actually is. As the life jacket awkwardly hugged my scrawny frame, I floated in the water awaiting this reality.

Homemade Almond Milk by With The Grains

Advanced beyond the use of double skis, my brother and friends had to scrounge two singles for me. The cobbled pair felt heavy and off-kilter, but the jet black boat with wild flames began to rev and roar. I gripped the rope with all my might, questioning this choice of mine. Too late. My legs and arms were pulled forward, but my core lagged. Far from impressive or graceful, I looked and felt like the boat was dragging me. Try as I might, I lost the rope and spiraled into the water. Fail.

Waterskiing was not easy, not at all.

Vanilla and Dates by With The Grains

Eventually, I learned to squat. I learned to use my quad muscles. I learned not to let the boat drag me and when to let go. Eventually, I was able to lap the lake without holding my breath anxiously, and I dare say, I even enjoyed it. I returned to Pennsylvania, my brother continued to dazzle all summer in Nebraska, and I haven’t stepped foot in a water ski ever since, but at least I tried it.

Homemade Almond Milk by With The Grains

Taking my brother’s talent for granted, I had underestimated the difficulty level of waterskiing. Other obstacles in life follow the opposite course. We put off trying certain activities because we lump them into a “complicated” category. With all the fancy packaging and ever expanding shelf of nut milks, I had long lumped Almond Milk into the Why would I make that myself? category. As it turns out, making your own version is super simple and straightforward.

Homemade Almond Milk by With The Grains-06

Homemade Vanilla Bean Almond Milk

About this Recipe: I originally set out to make almond milk because I was shocked at how many extra ingredients even the most expensive and “natural” brands contain. Making your own does require a few kitchen gadgets (food processor or blender and cheesecloth), but other than that, the process is simple and doesn’t require nearly as many almonds as one would expect. The result is a super natural almond milk without the unwanted extras. Be sure to save your almond pulp as I’ll be sharing a recipe for using it to make a wholesome chocolate treat.

Single-Grain

Here’s to trying!
-Quelcy

Homemade Vanilla Bean Almond Milk
yield: 3 1/2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup raw almonds
3 1/2 cups filtered water
4 pitted Medjool dates
1 whole vanilla bean, chopped (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)

Directions

Place almonds in a large jar, and cover with water. Soak them overnight (for 8-12 hours) in the water (soak for 1-2 hours if pressed for time).

Rinse and drain the almonds and place into a blender or food processor with filtered water, pitted dates, and chopped vanilla bean. Blend on highest speed for 1 minute.

Place cheesecloth securely over a large bowl and slowly pour the almond milk mixture into the bag. Gently squeeze the bottom of the bag to release the milk. Note: At this point, I let the almonds steep overnight to extract more flavor, but you can proceed immediately.

Remove the cheesecloth with the almond pulp, and set aside for another use.

Pour the remaining liquid into a glass jar to store in the fridge for up to 3-5 days. Shake jar very well before using as the mixture separates when sitting.

Enjoy!

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