Frozen Yogurt from Almond Milk – Yummy!

I finally did it!  I made an Almond Milk Frozen Yogurt that tastes really good!

My first three attempts at making almond milk yogurt can be seen here.  The problem was getting an almond milk yogurt to taste good and have the right creamy, thick consistency.  When I tried the first recipe using cornstarch, all I could taste was the cornstarch!  I thought that maybe the problem was the starter, so I tried using plain dairy yogurt instead of a supplement starter, but again, the cornstarch flavor was a problem.  So, I tried using potato starch and then cream of tartar to thicken the yogurt.  The potato starch made the yogurt taste, well, potatoey and acidic, but not the tangy yogurt acidic flavor, if you know what I mean.  I can’t even describe how the cream of tartar tasted.  Not really bad, but the aftertaste or the after FEEL on my tongue just wasn’t very pleasant.  My thinking was that I needed to find a thickener that had the least amount of taste or aftertaste on the tongue.  Frozen Yogurt made from Almond Milk

So, I decided to start back at square one.  Just almond milk, starter and sugar.  That’s it.  My plan was to ferment this mixture and then if it turned out really thin but still tasted good, I would add plain gelatin to give it a thicker, and more creamy consistency.  However, since my goal is to make frozen yogurt, I wasn’t sure if the thickness of the yogurt would matter very much.

But I didn’t have to add the gelatin!  The most simple recipe without thickener turned out to be fairly thick and creamy!  I couldn’t believe it!  All I had to do was drain off some of the whey, and it was just as thick and creamy as any Greek dairy yogurt you can purchase at the grocery store! So, why on earth did those recipes I followed in the first place add cornstarch or cream of tartar or even guar gum of all things?

Here is how I made my Almond Milk Frozen Yogurt:

I made my almond milk the usual way (2 cups of blanched almonds with 4-1/2 cups water in a blender, blend for 2 minutes, strain out milk) and heated four cups just to a simmer.  This may be the key.  You are supposed to heat the milk to 180 degrees to pasteurize it, but when making dairy yogurt it is important not to get the milk too hot or it might scorch and the protein in the milk would be destroyed.  However, this wasn’t dairy milk and perhaps getting it just to the boiling stage is what made it thicken??  I will have to experiment with this a bit more just to make sure.  Nonetheless, it certainly didn’t hurt anything.  I took the almond milk off the heat and added 1 tablespoon of cane sugar (not GMO beet sugar!) and stirred to completely dissolve.  Do not use honey – especially raw honey – for several reasons, the most important being that honey is a natural antiviral/antibiotic, which may kill off the good starter bacteria you are using to ferment!  But you do need some type of sugar for the bacteria to “eat” (which is what fermentation is all about), and the almond milk in itself doesn’t have enough natural sugar for this process.  I have read that it is safe to use Agave, but I also understand that Agave isn’t any different than sugar when it comes to glycemic index, tooth decay, and general health.  Anyway, once the almond milk and sugar mixture had cooled down to between 100 and Cherry Almond Frozen Yogurt 110 degrees, I added 2 capsules of the starter and gently stirred this into the mixture.  For my starter, I used a supplement (in capsule form) that contained acidophilus, bulgaricus, thermophilus and bifidum – each capsule holding 500 million viable organisms.  You can find these at any health food store, usually in the refrigerated section.

This was put into my new Dash Greek Yogurt Maker and the timer was set for 12 hours.  From my research, the more time you give the cultures to ferment the sugars, the better the “tang” in the finished yogurt!

Let it be, let it be, let it be oh let it be!  Whisper words of wisdom, let it be! 🙂

(Don’t stir!)  Don’t you just love the Beatles!!???

After twelve hours the yogurt tasted pretty much like almond flavored yogurt.  It was fairly smooth and creamy with a good bit of “tang”.  The almond flavor wasn’t too strong, but the taste was there.  However, Yogurt is not what I want – I want Frozen YogurtAlmond Milk Frozen Yogurt

So, to compliment the almond flavor of the yogurt, and since I had some frozen cherries in my freezer, I decided to make Cherry Almond Frozen Yogurt!

I chopped up about 1/2 cup of cherries and 1/4 cup of blanched, slivered almonds and added them to the yogurt mixture.  Since I felt it needed just a bit more sweetness (it is dessert, after-all), I added 4 drops of my homemade stevia syrup.  You can see how to make stevia syrup here.

The entire mixture was added to my handy-dandy IceCream Maker and within a few minutes I had Cherry Almond Frozen Yogurt!  Yum!  It was really, really good.  The flavor was very much Cherry Almond, it was creamy and just sweet enough. Cherry Almond Milk Frozen Yogurt

I am so glad I finally got this recipe worked out!  My next flavor to try will be Pineapple and Coconut or perhaps Raspberry and Dark Chocolate!  Pretty much anything that would go with almonds would work well with this recipe!

If you have any suggestions for flavors or if you have tried making Frozen Yogurt with Almond Milk and have a different recipe that works for you, please let me know in the comment section below!  I would love to hear from you!

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Almond Milk Frozen Yogurt #1

Frozen Yogurt from Almond Milk

Some of my Christmas gifts – a fermentation crock and a jerky maker – guarded by Santa!

My family knows me well.  For Christmas I was given:  1.  A Fermentation Crock (olives and pickles – yummm), 2. A Jerky Gun (it makes jerky with hamburger), and 3.  A Yogurt Maker.  I made some yogurt right away with cow’s milk and words cannot describe how delicious it is!  Fresh and creamy!  I added in some fresh fruit and chopped walnuts and it makes the      Best.      Breakfast.     Ever!

Then my mind started wandering, then wondering (stand back, this could get ugly) about making yogurt with almond milk.  I argued with myself and said: “self – cow’s milk is yummy, you aren’t lactose intolerant, and almond milk can get expensive!  Why bother?”  Then I answered,” because I can!” 🙂

Besides, it’s not really the almond milk yogurt I’m after, it’s freezing the almond milk yogurt into almond milk frozen yogurt!  Why?  Because when we move up to the homestead with the nearest grocery store 30 miles down the mountain, I would prefer to travel to said store only once per month.  Since fresh milk doesn’t usually last that long, I would like to develop an alternative substance – perhaps almond milk – that I can craft into a yummy frozen yogurt concoction.

That sounds reasonable………….. right?

So, I did some research on the internet and indeed I found some recipes for frozen almond milk yogurt!  I read through a dozen or so recipes and decided to start out with the easiest one. I also did a bit of research trying to educate myself on how yogurt is made and what components are necessary to make “yogurt” and found out that all you need is milk of some kind that has “sugar” in it, and bacteria that “eats” the sugar and turns the sugars into acid, which is what gives you the tangy taste and a thick product!

In cow’s milk, the sugar is lactose and the bacteria turns the lactose into lactic acid.  However, almond milk does not have lactose, nor does it have enough “natural” sugar, and so it is necessary to add sugar.  I chose to use honey.

The bacteria is available in several different forms.  The easiest to use, of course, is a couple of tablespoons of already cultured yogurt.  You can also buy freeze-dried cultures or refrigerated live cultures.  These can be bought through retail outlets as actual supplements or in prepared packages made just for culturing yogurt.  You can choose, but I found that the supplements aren’t very expensive if you do a little shopping.

So, I decided to do my first experiments with a recipe I found here:   http://afairytalecomesalive.blogspot.com/2013/04/recipe-almond-milk-yogurt.html  simply because it sounded like the easiest and there was nothing that I didn’t already have in my cupboard (no guar gum, arrowroot powder, agar agar, xanthem gum, etc.).

Making Almond Milk

First things first – make some almond milk. I use a 1 cup almonds to 2 cups water ratio.

I quickly made some almond milk (easy to do, just click here for instructions) and heated it carefully over a double boiler with the honey and cornstarch until the mixture reached 180 degrees.  Getting the mixture to 180 degrees over a double boiler takes quite a while, so start this process early in the day!  Then the batch needs to cool down to 100 to 110 degrees, which also takes forever!  Once the batch is cooled, it is innoculated with the bacteria.  For my first batch I

Making Frozen Yogurt with Almond milk

The almond milk must get to at least 180 degrees to kill off all the “bad” bacteria.

decided to try a freeze dried concoction sold as a dietary supplement (in capsule form) with:  Lactobacillus acidophilus, Streptococcus thermophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidus.  After innoculation, I added the mixture to my new yogurt maker and set the timer to 10 hours.  After 10 hours (it was 12 o’clock at night, ugghhh!), I put the mixture into the refrigerator to cool down.

The next morning I was so excited to taste my new almond milk yogurt!  I pulled it out from the refrigerator and I was a bit disappointed to see that it wasn’t very thick.  I went ahead and poured off the whey and put it through the yogurt strainer to thicken it, and it did thicken a bit more.  Then I tasted it.

Have you ever made chicken gravy when you know you don’t really have enough drippings but make the gravy anyway and then add in too much cornstarch or flour?

Well, that’s how it tasted.  Very cornstarchy. Very bland.  And not much tang – at all.

Making Frozen Yogurt from Almond Milk

Second batch – this time I used store bought dairy yogurt – plain. I used Fage because I find it has the least amount of preservatives of the brands that I could choose from.

I figured there may have been a problem with the freeze dried stuff and decided to try it with a couple tablespoons of store bought plain yogurt.  That’s how I made my first batch of cow’s milk yogurt and it was yummy.  So, I repeated the recipe (but with the store bought yogurt) and tried it again.  Hmmmmm………

This time it had a bit more tang, but still had a pretty heavy cornstarch aftertaste.  I still wanted to see how it would freeze up and thought to myself, “what kind of flavoring would cut the bland taste of cornstarch?”  Lemons!!!  I have been making my own lemon extract (for instructions on making your own extracts, click here) for a couple of months now and so I added 1 teaspoon of lemon extract and then tasted it.  Meh.

Home made Almond Frozen Yogurt

Flavoring the Almond Yogurt with home-made lemon extract and fresh lemon zest, before freezing.

Not enough lemon.  I added another teaspoon along with some lemon zest.  Better!

Using my KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment, I froze the almond yogurt.  The result?  Interesting.  Not bad, but not really good either.  Lemony and could use a touch of sweetener, but that cornstarch flavor just seems to hang on the tongue.

So, on to batch #3.  I am determined to get this right!  This time I tried using the same recipe, but instead of 1/2 cup of cornstarch, I used 2 tablespoons.  Instead of the freeze dried bacteria or the fresh dairy yogurt to innoculate it, I went to my local health food store and found some refrigerated live bacteria!  It really wasn’t that expensive and the bottle is good for 1-1/2 years – as long as it is kept refrigerated.

Almond Frozen Yogurt Recipe

The yogurt got thick enough, even with less cornstarch. I just can’t seem to get past that cornstarch taste that hangs on, well after you have had a bite!

The result?  Well, better than experiment #2, but nothing to write home about.  It still got fairly thick, even with less cornstarch, and even thicker when I drained it for a couple hours in the refrigerator.  But, it was still missing that “tang” you are supposed to taste in yogurt. And I still tasted cornstarch.

So, I did some more research.  Two things I think I am doing wrong.  1.  I have been stirring the mixture as it is incubating in my yogurt maker.  Apparently that’s a no-no.  Oops.  2.  I should not use honey.  Natural honey carries it’s own set of bacteria that may not be such a good thing to incubate.  Apparently some people have gotten very sick after eating yogurt made with raw honey.

Also, as I was re-thinking these experiments, I realized that maybe I don’t need the cornstarch at all!  The only reason for the cornstarch is for thickening up the yogurt to make the texture more like cow’s milk yogurt.  Cow’s milk has casein, a protein lacking in almond milk, that helps to thicken up the cow’s milk yogurt.  That is why people put corn starch, gelatin, agar-agar, arrowroot powder, etc., in the nondairy milk – to thicken it up!  But if I am just going to freeze the almond milk yogurt, do I really have to have it thick before I do that?  Possibly not.  Also, the frozen yogurt gets really hard in the freezer – hard as a rock!  I wonder if using a gelatin would soften it but give it body as well? Or, could I use my mixer to beat the yogurt into a froth and forgo the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment and instead just put the mixture straight into the freezer?  What do you think?

Frozen Yogurt from Almonds

This certainly looks good. And a first bite isn’t bad – it’s just that the cornstarch taste lingers on the tongue. I suppose in a pinch, on a very hot summer day, this might be considered almost tasty.

 

And so the experiments and the research continue!  🙂

Stay tuned for the next chapter of “Almond Milk Frozen Yogurt”, due next week!

 

 

 

 

 

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Almond Milk Ice Cream

Mmmmmm…..  Ice Cream.

Harvesting just four cups of shelled, raw almonds from the almond tree in my backyard certainly got my  creative juices flowing!  Last week I made some almond cheese, this past weekend I made apple muse with some my son using homemade almond milk, and today I am making almond milk ice cream!

Apple Muse

This was the apple muse my son Michael and I made this past weekend: apples, almond milk, bread crumbs, honey, cardamom. Cooked until a very thick apple sauce pudding consistency. Delicious! I got the recipe from Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen.

For someone who does not eat animal products of any type (no dairy or eggs), this is a wonderful way to make ice cream.  Or for those that worry about Teotwawki scenarios (the end of the world as we know it), this would be a great treat (as long as you still have a freezer going) without a lactating mammal around. For me, I just wanted to try it out.  🙂

I did a lot of research online and found quite a few recipes for almond milk ice cream!  Some included regular cow’s milk (or cream) to make it more creamy (not necessary) and others included coconut milk (a good alternative, but not very sustainable).

So, as I have done many times in the past, I gathered several recipes that looked good and tweaked them into something that sounded good to me!  First I found this recipe for Vegan Almond Milk Ice Cream.  It sounded really good, but two tablespoons of sugar sounded like a lot – at least to me.  Then I found another recipe called Voluminous Vanilla Ice Cream, but again was bothered a bit by the addition of so much sugar – 1-2 tablespoons per serving?  But the addition of salt – just a smidgen – intrigued me.  Another recipe I found was Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream.  This one added egg yolks and xantham gum, the latter of which I do not have hanging around my kitchen right now.

So, after a day of researching dozens of website recipes, I learned that you can make almond ice cream with just plain almond milk, though it might be a bit “thin”.  However, to thicken the ice cream and make it a bit creamier, the addition of coconut milk and/or a banana will do the trick.  And, since both almond milk and bananas are naturally sweet, the addition of sugar isn’t really necessary.  Cool.

I decided to dive right in.  I have almonds, so I can make almond milk.  I have a couple of bananas on my countertop getting kinda brown and spotty (don’t judge me please), and I have some wild blackberries in my freezer that are calling my name.   So, that’s settled.  I am going to make almond, banana, blackberry ice cream.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ Here we go ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

First things first – make the almond milk!

Almond Milk Ice Cream

Soaked almonds. I didn’t bother taking off all the skin.

I soaked one cup of whole, fresh, unpasturized almonds overnight in water in the refrigerator.  This is supposed to hydrate them so that the resulting milk is creamier, but I have made almond milk before without hydrating the almonds first, with barely a noticeable difference. To make the almond milk I added 1 cup of hydrated almonds and 2 cups of water to the blender and processed until the almonds were pretty much pulverized!  You can use more almonds for a thicker milk or more water for thinner milk,

How to make Almond Milk

Just plop the almonds and 2 cups of water in your blender and whirl away!

but 1 cup of almonds to 2 cups of water is pretty much the standard recipe for almond milk.  Strain the milk through the a strainer to get 1-1/2 cups of almond milk.  If you don’t have enough milk, just put a little more water into the blender with the remainder of the almond meal and process again.  Then strain.  You should have enough almond milk now.

To blanch or not to blanch – that is the question.  Either way.  I have found that when you soak your almonds for at least 12 hours, the skins slip off pretty easily without blanching.  If you make almond milk with fresh almonds and leave the skin on, the milk is strained off the pulp anyway and doesn’t effect the color much.

How to make almond milk

Separating the almond milk from the pulp. I use a strainer. You could also use cheesecloth.

So, do whatever floats your boat!

DON’T THROW OUT THE ALMOND PULP!!!!!  Spread out on a cookie sheet and let it dry, either in a dehydrator, low oven or your kitchen countertop. Mix it around as it dries so it doesn’t form big huge clumps. This makes a wonderful addition to pie crusts, quick breads like banana bread, fried chicken coatings, etc..  The uses are endless!  Here’s an idea:  toast the almond pulp to bring out more of that “almondy” flavor, then make chocolate truffles and roll them in the toasted almond pulp!  Mmmmm…. sounds delicious doesn’t it!

How to make almond milk

This is the left over almond pulp drying on a cookie sheet. It’s about the consistency of corn meal, so I call it almond meal. Wouldn’t this be great with a little bit of brown sugar and butter over an apple pie?

Once the almond milk was made I put it back in the blender (I cleaned out all of the pulp first) and threw in a banana.  Oh – and a smidgen of a pinch of sea salt.  This was blended until smooth.

Almond Milk Ice Cream

Whirl it all in the blender.

That’s when I added in about 1/2 cup of partially thawed wild blackberries and blended again, blending just enough to get some purple color, but leaving the berries partially intact.

I put my Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Bowl in the freezer last night, so it would be good and cold, and with the machine running, the ice cream mixture was poured into the Ice Cream Maker Bowl.  No, I have not been paid or rewarded in any way from Kitchen Aid to say this.  I wish!  I let it go for about 10 minutes, until I could see that the ice cream was pretty much set up.  This is just a judgement call – you have to experiment a bit to see when you think your ice cream is finished.    How to make almond milk ice cream

The ice cream is then put into another container and then into the freezer to harden up a bit more.  You could serve it right out of the ice cream maker, but it isn’t really hardened up yet and melts really fast at this point.  It’s better off in the freezer for at least an hour or so.  If you need to store the ice cream longer, make sure you put it in an airtight container, otherwise the ice cream could pick up some funky smells from your freezer.

How does it taste?  Fantastic – especially if you like banana ice cream. It has a distinct flavor of banana overlying blackberries.  Can’t really taste any almonds.  It is really smooth and creamy though, so I have no problems with the texture. The next time I do this (tomorrow?) I am going to try just using the almond milk (no banana) so I don’t get such a pronounced flavor of banana.  Or, maybe not use such a ripe banana.  Or I could go with the flow and make Banana Chocolate Chip or Black Walnut Banana ice cream.  The possibilities are endless!

How to make almond milk ice cream

My final results! So good!

You should really give this a try.  Then, come back and tell me what you think.  You may have some suggestions or a better recipe – or both!  I want to know about your success and your failures – good and bad – so we can all learn more!

 

UPDATE:  I have been experimenting with making Frozen Yogurt from Almond Milk Yogurt.  If you would like to read about my process and how to make Almond Milk Frozen Yogurt (I think it’s better than the Almond Milk Ice Cream) you should click HERE.

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