A healthy milk substitute such as homemade almond milk is an important drink to know how to make yourself in light of the skyrocketing cases of dairy allergies today.
Almond milk made at home can also be fermented to add probiotics and beneficial enzymes that enhance the digestive process and boost the immune system in much the same way as grassfed raw milk. While homemade almond milk is high quality, nutritious and digestible, industrialized versions at the store even if organic should be avoided. The reasons for this are threefold:
- Synthetic vitamins
- Dangerous additives
- Toxic packaging
Synthetic Vitamins in Store Almond Milk
First, Vitamin A Palmitate is typically added, the synthetic version of Vitamin A. Synthetic vitamins are the chemical mirror images of the real, natural versions. They can cause imbalances over time. Even small amounts of the synthetic fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A can prove toxic and should be strictly avoided.
The Organic Consumers Association warns that isolated vitamins such as those produced synthetically cannot be recognized or metabolized by the body in the same way as the natural version. On the other hand, large doses of natural vitamin A are well tolerated by the body as established by researchers decades ago. Traditional diets contain 10 times or more of the RDA of this nutrient with no ill effect. However, synthetic vitamin A is associated with birth defects and bone fractures. It has no benefit in the diet whatsoever.
The second dangerous synthetic vitamin that is commonly found in store bought almond milk is vitamin D2. Vitamin D2 is a form of the wonder vitamin that you should take great pains to avoid. It does NOT help resolve vitamin D deficiency!
In all known cases of Vitamin D toxicity where the dose was intentional, Vitamin D2 was the culprit. By comparison, Vitamin D3 is much less toxic and requires an enormous or even an accidental dose to produce any toxic effect. Synthetic Vitamin D2 as added to foodstuffs is manufactured industrially by irradiating yeast. It is dangerous for D2 to be added to any food product particularly if this product would be given to children, where toxicity symptoms would appear at much lower dosages.
A common additive to commercial almond milk, rice milk and other milk substitutes is carrageenan. Innocuous enough at first glance, carrageenan is derived from seaweed. Food manufacturers add it as a fat replacer and stabilizer to many lowfat and nondairy products. It is even allowed in organic almond milk!
Dr. Andrew Weil has been telling people to avoid carrageenan since 2002. Carrageenan is incredibly toxic and inflaming to the human digestive system. Think IBS, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, etc. As a result, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization) classifies it as a potential human carcinogen.
The hype from the carrageenan industry claims that “food grade” carrageenan is different from the low molecular weight, i.e., degraded carrageenan that is toxic to human cells. This spin fails to mention that not a single sample of products containing carrageenan that were tested could be said to be free of the degraded form. Some samples contained as much as 25% low molecular weight carrageenan. This testing was conducted as part of a 2003 ruling by the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Food. This judgment required that a processed food contain a maximum of 5% degraded carrageenan. Another problem is that research available since the early 1980′s indicated issues for food grade carrageenan too. Evidence suggests that it is probably converted during the digestive process to the degraded, highly toxic form.
More recent research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), pinpointed the exact metabolic process by which carrageenan triggers inflammation. Shockingly, this biological event was found to mirror the way pathogenic bacteria such as salmonella wreak havoc in the gut.
Consumer advocate Debra Lynn Dadd, author of Toxic Free, reveals the truth about aseptic packaging. Also called tetrapaks, they are made from paper (70%), polyethylene plastic (LDPE) (24%), and aluminum (6%). In addition, a tight food-grade polyethylene (plastic) layer lines the inside which touches the food.
The food that is packaged in these multi-layered tetrapaks is sterilized via a flash-heating process. The temperature reaches between 195° and 295°F. The FDA considers food grade polyethylene plastic to be one of the safest plastics to come in contact with food. Consequently, manufacturers promote to consumers that little to no leaching of toxic chemicals occurs. However, actual research suggests otherwise. In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers measured the presence of nonylphenol (NP), bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol A diglycidyl ether (BADGE) in two brands of milk packed in aseptic, tetrapak containers.
Note that one of the benefits of these containers within the industrialized food system is that they are designed to stack on pallets. After that they perch on store shelves for potentially weeks or months. This long storage time in possibly hot warehouses takes a toll. All samples contained measurable levels of endocrine disrupting substances that leached from the “nontoxic” plastic or lining of the containers.
The researchers noted that the levels of the endocrine disrupting compounds in the samples studied did not achieve “the maximum leached level allowed by law”. However, they concluded that “. . . the impact these compounds may have on organisms and human beings needs to be further studied”. This concern is of special importance with regard to “accumulation, degradation and possible effects within the endocrine system”.
It is best to make your own homemade almond milk? I would say so if just to avoid the packaging concerns let alone issues with additives and synthetic vitamins!
Fermented Homemade Almond Milk
Note that while this almond milk is a wonderful milk substitute for children over the age of one who are allergic to dairy, it is not appropriate as homemade formula. While soya formula is dangerous and should be avoided, a dairy free homemade formula is the best alternative for children less than a year old.
Enjoy homemade almond milk chilled and served in a glass or try making this blueberry banana almond milk smoothie instead for a healthy breakfast on the go.
Probiotic Homemade Almond Milk
Recipe for homemade almond milk that is lightly fermented to add probiotics and additional nutrition.
- 2 cups raw almonds preferably organic and unpasteurized
- filtered water
- 1/4 cup liquid whey
- 1/4 cup raw honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 tsp sea salt
Almond milk is best made from skinless almonds. This way, the smooth almond pulp can be retained in the final beverage for extra nutritional value instead of strained out and discarded. Leaving the skins on also greatly increases the chances for mold during fermentation.
If you don't already have skinless (blanched) almonds, you will need to remove the skins yourself. To do this, place almonds in boiling water for one minute (no longer!). Immediately strain in a colander and rinse with cold filtered water. Pat dry with a towel. Pinch off the skins with your fingers.
The skins will easily slide off. It takes me about 20 minutes start to finish to blanch and then remove the skins from 2 cups of almonds. This is a wonderful fine motor skills activity for young children, by the way.
Soak almonds overnight in filtered water with sea salt. Soaked almonds infinitely more digestible than if the almonds are unsoaked. Drain off soaking water, rinse and process almonds in a food processor until a smooth paste. In a 2 quart glass jug (I like these) mix almond paste with other ingredients and enough filtered water to fill the jug. Take care to leave at least one inch at the top.
Cover tightly and leave on the counter for 2 days to ferment. This cultures the almond milk, adding probiotics and beneficial enzymes to the mixture.
Refrigerate. Be sure to gently stir homemade almond milk each time before serving.
Enjoy. This almond milk recipe is absolutely delicious and can be used as a replacement for dairy milk in all your recipes or just to enjoy on its own, sipped from a glass.
Use almond milk starter culture if you wish to avoid using liquid whey.
Use sprouted almonds for an even more digestible and nutritious beverage.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
References and More Information
Why Almond Milk from the Store Should Be Avoided
Nutritional Info for Almond Milk
When I have made almond milk from scratch (with the skins and then strained), it goes bad almost the next day in the refrigerator. Whether or not you remove the skins first, once it starts to sour in the refrigerator, is this a natural healthy fermentation and is good to drink, or would it be bad to drink? If it is bad, can I put whey in it when I put it in the fridge so that any fermentation would be nutritious?
Also if making whey from plane yogurt, do you have any instructions anywhere? Do you add store bought organic milk?
Sarah Pope MGA
Instructions for making whey from yogurt (recipe and video) are here: https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/separating-whey-plain-store-yogurt/
The fermentation process does result in a slightly sour beverage. You can leave the whey out and just drink the almond milk as is if you prefer.
This is definitely expensive to make. Two cups of raw almonds cost me over $11.00 at the health food store, not to mention the cost of the other ingredients.
Aproximately his long will this milk last in the fridge?
Hi and thanks for the recipe!
I skipped the liquid whey without realizing how important it is for fermentation. So, my milk-in-progress has sat on the counter for a full day. If I refrigerate now, will it still be safe for baby?
If it has been at room temperature for more than 4 hours, then you will have to toss it. Another option is to boil it for a few minutes, cool to room temperature and then add the whey and ferment. This may work, but there is a chance the fermentation won’t take. Perhaps better to do this than tossing the whole thing and starting over though.
I’m sure you linked to this product by accident…it contains soy protein isolate. Which is a bummer because it’s a lot more affordable than the other culture. Would there be any other inexpensive home options? Maybe 1/4 c of unflavored water kefir instead of the whey? (For dairy allergy) I was going to try lemon juice but that doesn’t contain probiotics. What about a powdered probiotic? Or some sauerkraut juice (but less so it isn’t noticeable)?
Sauerkraut juice would work but would make the beverage have an undesirable flavor. Using a vegetable starter is the best bet for a non-dairy starte, and the one I linked to does not contain any soy protein isolate.
Hello! I put the mixture in the refrigerator for 24 hours when i noticed that it was supposed to be on the counter. Will it still ferment if i leave it on the counter now?
Probably will be fine if you do that.
I make fresh almond milk, and sometimes it goes sour if left too long in the fridge, is this the same as if left on the counter? And is this safe to drink. It tastes like sour buttermilk. thank you kindly
Unfortunately nonfermented almond milk is a cooked (heated) beverage and like pasteurized milk should be thrown out if it sours. It is not like soured raw milk which is a live product and the souring is from the proliferation of probiotics.
HI I was interested in doing this for my household. However, after reading the recipe and the comments— and— not really knowing much about fermentation, it appears the recipe differs greatly from what others have written. Such as there is no ACV or lemon juice in the current recipe. I am under the impression they are necessary for the fermentation process. Also, the link to the sprouted nuts brings us to radiant life’s nuts which are already soaked and dehydrated. Do you have to soak them again? Would the dehydration/presoaked nuts change how the almonds ferment and the nutrition of the beverage? I am looking to do the most nutritious absorbable form possible. I’m just a bit confused on the differences here. Thank you.
Liquid whey is the probiotic inoculant for the almond milk. ACV and lemon juice don’t work as well and make the drink taste not as good either. If you need a dairy free starter, you can use nut milk yogurt starter instead. http://amzn.to/2ziGCbJ
Hi Sarah, your site is my absolute go to on most things so thank you.
About the fermented almond milk. I made it and had two 1litre jars which I used and followed the recipe to the Letter.
I ended up using ACV. I was going to do one lemon juice and one acv to test which I liked. Better but accidentally put the full measurement of acv into instead of halving it. I tasted it today and it tastes a bit too vinegary. My husband hates vinegar ( feel bad for him ha). It even got me, someone who has sipped acv straight since childhood felt like maybe I did something wrong.
Also wanted to know if there are any precautions to getting sick if I somehow didn’t do it right. My daughter grabbed it twice and shook it during the 2 days it was culturing but not sure that would’ve done it. Could you reassure me that it’s safe to doctor up?
Shaking the container during fermentation is fine. Too much vinegar won’t hurt anything .. it will just negatively affect the taste.
I may have missed it somewhere…but just want to clarify, If I use Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother in it this will be ok to ferment the almond milk without using whey/dairy? Is this correct?
When I was combining the ingredients I accidentally dumped in a bunch of almond extract. Now that it’s fermented and I’ve tasted it, the almond extract is overpowering. Is there anything I can do to make it better??