Store-Bought or Homemade: Which Almond Milk Is Best?
Almond milk has been a hit for years, especially among those who need an alternative to dairy. Whether dairy-based milks just don’t agree with your stomach or you’re following a vegan diet, almond milk is the way to go. In fact, its many health benefits make this beverage a real powerhouse. So, the question remains: Should you spend the time making your own almond milk — or is store-bought almond milk the superior choice?
Why Is Almond Milk So Great?
In comparison to cow’s milk, almond milk is packed with incredible health benefits. In fact, the addition of vitamins D and E gives this milk an edge when it comes to nutritional value. And, so long as you’re drinking unsweetened almond milk, it won’t raise your blood sugar levels.
As it’s relatively low in carbohydrates, almond milk is also a great choice for those on low-carb diets. Looking to take things to the next level? Plenty of store-bought almond milks are enriched with calcium, so you can hit those daily goals without cow’s milk or other dairy products. So long as you aren’t allergic to nuts, almond milk is a great — and tasty — dairy substitute.
Best-Rated Almond Milk Brands
With so many almond milk varieties available in supermarkets, it’s important to know which will benefit you the most. For example, some sweetened almond milks will contain higher levels of sugar, whereas enriched varieties will give you that calcium boost we mentioned.
Here’s a quick breakdown on those almond milk varieties:
- Unsweetened: No sugar added means this one is better for those on a low-sugar diet.
- Enriched: Enriched with calcium — and, in some cases, vitamins A, D and E as well. Best for those who need a vitamin or mineral boost.
- Carrageenan-free: Most almond milk brands are already carrageenan-free, but it’s always good to double check. Although carrageenan is commonly used to extend a product’s shelf life, it’s unclear whether or not it has any bearing on a product’s nutritional value.
With that in mind, let's explore some of the top-rated almond milk brands. Some popular contenders include:
- Silk: Silk has a wide range of low-sugar options, as well as vanilla flavors, unsweetened vanilla flavors, and a light version with just 5g of sugar per cup. Its almonds are non-GMO — and it’s free of carrageenan.
- Califia Farms: The Califia Farms range includes several varieties. The original version contains just 5g of sugar per cup; however, Califia Farms also has an unsweetened almond milk. Additionally, you can find a special Barista Blend if you’re a coffee person. Its almonds are GMO-free and carrageenan is not a listed ingredient.
- Blue Diamond Almond Breeze: Blue Diamond Almond Breeze’s almond milk has plenty of varieties, including original, vanilla, chocolate, unsweetened, and unsweetened vanilla. It’s GMO-free and carrageenan-free in the U.S., but the U.K. version might still contain carrageenan.
- So Delicious: So Delicious offers a vanilla variety as well as an unsweetened milk. For those looking to mix it up, there’s even a special almond and cashew blend. Like the others on our list, it’s GMO-free and offers an extra boost of protein, which is particularly beneficial for vegetarian and vegan folks.
How to Make Almond Milk at Home
As this recipe from Martha Stewart shows, making almond milk at home is actually quite easy. In fact, all it requires is a bit of preparation — and patience. First, you’ll need to put the almonds in question in cool water and store them that way overnight. The next day, you’ll drain the water and toss those soaked almonds and some water into a blender.
This is the fun part! You can mix in whatever you want — dates, vanilla, cocoa powder, berries, and anything else that might appeal to you. For best results, use a high-speed blender, and, remember, you’re looking for a smooth, creamy consistency. Pour your finished product into a jar and shake well before drinking. Most homemade almond milks will last around five days if refrigerated. Pro tip: Wondering what to do with your almond pulp? Add it to your next baking project.
Store-Bought vs. Homemade: Which is Better?
In the end, it’s a personal preference. For example, store-bought almond milk usually keeps a bit longer, making it the ideal option for those with busier schedules. Additionally, since almond milk isn’t naturally high in calcium, the enriched, store-bought versions might also be best for those looking for a solid source of calcium.
However, homemade almond milk may hold more nutritional value — you know exactly what’s in it after all, and your additives can be catered to your dietary needs. Plus, making your own almond milk allows you to experiment with those new ingredients and flavors. In the end, weigh your options carefully, so that you can milk those almonds for all they’re worth.