Make space in your fridge for almond milk!
Many brands are fortified with calcium and Vitamin D, vital for bone strength. Some also supply Vitamin E, meeting half your daily need for this nutrient. Vitamin E helps to fend off cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.
Unlike dairy milk, it’s free of lactose and cholesterol. It also complements weight loss efforts, being low in fat, carbs, and calories. On average, one cup of almond milk has only 35 calories. Plus, it tastes delicious.
Up until 2011, most supermarkets didn’t sell it. Now, it’s a staple item.
Here’s a primer on buying this beverage, including where to find almond milk in the grocery store.
Almond Milk Ingredients
Almond milk consists of water and blended almonds. Some products have added nutrients, sweeteners, and flavorings, such as vanilla. Most brands contain “gums” to promote creaminess. Among the types of gums are gellan, locust bean, xanthan, acacia, and gum arabic. These additives occur in small amounts, insufficient to cause digestive problems in most people.
In fact, drinking it can help prevent heartburn by neutralizing stomach acid. Furthermore, it coats your stomach and esophageal walls, shielding them from inflammation.
However, one additive best avoided is carrageenan, made from seaweed. Research suggests that it may foster cellular inflammation and digestive illness. Thankfully, several almond milk brands are carrageenan-free, featured below.
Almond milk concentrate is sourced from blanched almonds. Use it to make non-dairy evaporated milk or blend it for homemade beverages.
A variation is ground almond meal. Marketed as “almond powder”, it imparts a nutty touch to baked goods.
Almond Milk Flavors and Blends
Plain almond milk tastes mildly sweet and nutty. Compared with other milk types we’ve featured, it’s gentle on the taste buds. For example, it doesn’t rouse your tongue like tangy buttermilk. While smooth in texture, it’s not as creamy as evaporated milk.
The most popular flavors of almond milk are Unsweetened, Unsweetened Vanilla, Light, Chocolate, Vanilla, and Light Vanilla. Also sold are milk blends, such as Almond Cashew, Hazelnut Pistachio Almond, Coconut Almond, Chocolate Coconut, and Barista Blend.
Enjoy this milk at breakfast by pairing it with cold cereal, muesli, or oatmeal. Add a smidgen to coffee or tea, like creamer. Blend it into smoothies, pancakes, sauces, soups, curries, and salad dressings. Or, use this milk to make white gravy, swapping it for dairy milk.
In short, use it as you would cow’s milk, in a 1:1 ratio. To preserve the expected taste of complementary foods, buy unsweetened almond milk. For baked goods, you may need to add thickening agents or adjust baking times.
Keeping Almond Milk Fresh
Boxed almond milk is “ultra-pasteurized”, meaning briefly subject to high heat, to kill bacteria. Then, the liquid is vacuum-sealed inside an aseptic carton. Such processing gives boxed milk a long shelf-life. Store it in your pantry until ready to use. If you buy refrigerated almond milk, tuck it in your fridge upon getting home from the store.
For both shelf-stable and refrigerated types, adhere to the “Use-By” dates on their packaging. Once you open the containers, keep them refrigerated. Then, consume the milk within seven days, Any longer puts you at risk for bacterial food poisoning.
Note that almond milk doesn’t take well to freezing, causing its ingredients to separate.
Best Almond Milk Brands
Nutritionists advise that the healthiest almond milk brands have:
- a short ingredient list
- added vitamins and minerals
- no carrageenan
- no added sugar or sweeteners
As a rule, unsweetened varieties have no sugar. By contrast, generally, milk with chocolate flavor has the most — up to 20 grams, equal to five teaspoons of sugar!
Below are five products meeting the above healthy standards:
- Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almondmilk
- Califia Farms Unsweetened Almondmilk
- Silk Unsweetened Original Almondmilk
- SoDelicious Unsweetened Almondmilk Beverage
- 365 Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk
Note – When shopping for Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, read the ingredient list before buying. Most US-produced Almond Breeze is vitamin-enriched and carrageenan-free. However, Almond Breeze sourced from other countries isn’t fortified and may have carrageenan.
Where to Buy Almond Milk
Most supermarket chains sell almond milk. Walmart, for example, carries Silk, Califia Farms, and Blue Diamond Almond Breeze in shelf-stable cartons. Available sizes are one-quart, two-quart, 48 ounces, and 8-ounces in a four-pack. Refrigerated Almond Breeze comes in 86-ounce and 96-ounce jugs.
At Whole Foods Market, the store brand is 365 Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk. Costco, the warehouse club, sells Almond Breeze. For SoDelicious Almond Cashew Milk, head to Target. There, you’ll also find Silk, Califia Farms, and Almond Breeze brands, including Almond Coconut Milk.
At a minimum, natural food stores typically sell Silk and Almond Breeze. You’ll find all types of shelf-stable milk online.
Where to Find Almond Milk in the Grocery Store
The most common spot for shelf-stable milk is the bottled juice aisle. Usually, it’s stocked with other plant-based milk, such as soy, rice, and coconut.
Refrigerated milk is kept in the cold dairy case, sharing space with cow’s milk. Here’s where you can buy almond milk in large containers, such as quarts and half-gallons.
If your local grocer has a natural foods section, look for almond milk cartons next to the soymilk. Also, check the refrigerators. These two locations apply to standalone health food stores as well.
How Much Does Almond Milk Cost
Generally, prices for unsweetened milk range from $1.99 to $3.47 per quart. At the low end of the cost spectrum is 365 Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk. At the high end is Califia Farms. The average cost for Silk Original, SoDelicious, and Blue Diamond is $3.45/quart.
Our tip: To save money, buy almond milk in bulk quantities, such as packs of four or six. Volume discounts are available from Walmart, Costco, and Amazon.com.
Never give this milk to a child under age 1. It’s unsuitable for infants, being low in protein and iron. In 2014, French researchers found that a diet of almond milk for young babies causes malnutrition. Complications include anemia, fluid retention, and impaired growth.
Infants should only drink breast milk or commercial formula. These two options meet the nutritional needs of children under age 1.
In children older than 12 months, this kind of milk is safe, provided there’s no family history of nut allergies. If a baby’s relatives are nut-allergic, get a pediatrician’s approval before trying any nut milk.
Similarly, if you or any loved ones have nut allergies, don’t drink it! Almonds are a type of tree nut. Immune intolerance to tree nuts can launch a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. Among the symptoms are throat closure and difficulty breathing, mandating prompt medical care.
Less severe signs of a nut allergy include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, itchiness, abdominal pain, and a runny nose.
Unsweetened almond milk is a healthy substitute for dairy milk, being low-calorie, low-fat, and lactose-free. The best brands have few ingredients and are fortified with calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E. Furthermore, they lack the additive carrageenan.
To find almond milk in the grocery store, head to the bottled juice section for shelf-stable cartons. For refrigerated milk type, go to the cold dairy cases. Or, if a retailer has a natural foods section, look for this kind of milk near the soymilk.
Currently, among plant-based beverages, this type of milk tops the list of consumer favorites. Try some, and you’ll see why!