Are you a fan of almond milk? Have you ever wondered how it’s made on a commercial scale?
Almond milk has become a popular alternative to dairy milk, especially for those who are lactose intolerant or follow a vegan lifestyle. But what goes into the production of this nutty beverage?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the process of making almond milk commercially, from soaking and grinding the almonds to filtering and mixing the final product.
So, grab a glass of your favorite almond milk and let’s dive in!
How Is Almond Milk Made Commercially?
The production of almond milk on a commercial scale involves several steps and specialized equipment.
Firstly, the almonds are washed and soaked in clean water for at least 12 hours. This step helps to soften the almonds and activate the enzymes on their surface, making them easier to digest.
Next, the almonds are ground into a creamy consistency using a colloid mill, along with water in a ratio of approximately 10:1. The resulting mixture is then filtered through a 200-mesh sieve to remove any almond residue.
At this point, preservatives or additives may be added according to the manufacturer’s processing technology. The mixture is then mixed and ground again to ensure a smooth and consistent texture.
Finally, the almond milk is ready for packaging and distribution. It can be filled into various types of containers such as PE or glass bottles, aseptic cartons, gable top cartons or tinplate cans.
Soaking And Blending The Almonds
The first step in making almond milk on a commercial scale is to wash and soak the almonds in clean water for at least 12 hours. This helps to soften the almonds and activate the enzymes on their surface, making them easier to digest.
Once the almonds have been soaked, they are ground into a creamy consistency using a colloid mill. The mill is designed to grind the almonds into a fine paste, which is then mixed with water in a ratio of approximately 10:1. This ensures that the resulting almond milk has a smooth and consistent texture.
The mixture is then filtered through a 200-mesh sieve to remove any almond residue. This step ensures that the almond milk is free from any solids or particles, giving it a smooth and creamy texture.
At this point, preservatives or additives may be added according to the manufacturer’s processing technology. This helps to extend the shelf life of the almond milk and ensure that it remains fresh for longer.
Finally, the almond milk is ready for packaging and distribution. It can be filled into various types of containers such as PE or glass bottles, aseptic cartons, gable top cartons or tinplate cans. The packaging used will depend on the manufacturer’s preference and the intended use of the almond milk.
Straining The Almond Pulp
After the almonds have been ground and mixed with water, the resulting mixture is poured into a specialized machine that separates the almond pulp from the milk. The machine uses a centrifugal force to spin the mixture, causing the heavier almond pulp to settle at the bottom while the lighter almond milk rises to the top.
The separated almond pulp is then collected and can be used for various purposes such as cooking or baking. However, it is important to note that the leftover pulp is often gritty and bland, stripped of much of its flavor and nutrients during the milk-making process.
To produce a smooth and creamy texture for commercial almond milk, the remaining milk is often passed through a series of ultra-fine filters or mesh screens to remove any remaining particles or impurities. This ensures that the final product is consistent in texture and appearance.
Mixing And Sweetening The Almond Milk
Once the almond milk is made, it can be consumed plain or further sweetened and flavored according to personal preference. Many commercial almond milk brands add natural sweeteners such as cane sugar, honey, or agave nectar to enhance the flavor of the milk. Some brands also add natural flavorings like vanilla extract or cinnamon to give the milk a unique taste and aroma.
The sweetening process involves adding the desired amount of sweetener to the almond milk mixture and mixing it thoroughly until the sweetener is fully dissolved. The amount of sweetener added depends on individual taste preferences and can vary from brand to brand.
After the sweetener is added, natural flavors can also be added to the almond milk mixture. These flavors are typically derived from natural sources such as fruits, spices, and herbs. The flavored almond milk is then mixed again to ensure that all the ingredients are well combined.
Commercially produced almond milk is often fortified with additional nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 to make it a more nutritious alternative to dairy milk. The fortification process involves adding the desired amount of nutrients to the almond milk mixture and mixing it thoroughly until all the nutrients are evenly distributed.
Pasteurizing And Packaging The Almond Milk
After the almond milk is packaged, it undergoes pasteurization to ensure that it is safe for consumption and has a longer shelf life.
For milk in PE or glass bottles or tin cans, the product is pre-pasteurized before filling into containers. After filling, the container undergoes secondary sterilization using a retort sterilizer. The shelf life of this type of almond milk can reach up to 9-12 months depending on whether preservatives are added and the sterilizing temperature.
On the other hand, almond milk in aseptic brick cartons undergoes UHT (ultra-high temperature) sterilization and is filled into aseptic cartons. This type of almond milk does not require the addition of antioxidants and can have a shelf life of 8-12 months depending on the carton type and ingredients.
Almond milk in gable top cartons undergoes HTST (high-temperature short-time) pasteurization, followed by cooling down to 4°C before filling into cartons. This type of almond milk requires storage, transportation, and sales in a cold environment and has a shorter shelf life of 7-10 days.
It is worth noting that commercially made almond milk is usually ultra-pasteurized to kill bacteria and extend its shelf life. Once opened, it is recommended to consume it within seven days and store it in the coldest part of the fridge.
Quality Control And Distribution Of Almond Milk
Quality control is a crucial aspect of almond milk production, as it ensures that the final product meets the required standards of taste, texture, and safety. During the production process, samples are taken at various stages to check for consistency and quality.
The almond milk is also tested for pH levels, fat content, microbial load, and any other contaminants that may affect the quality and safety of the product. Any deviations from the required standards are immediately addressed to maintain consistency and quality.
Once the almond milk is packaged, it is transported to distribution centers where it is stored in temperature-controlled environments to maintain its freshness and quality. Almond milk has a shelf life of up to 7-10 days when refrigerated, depending on the processing methods used.
Distribution channels vary depending on the manufacturer’s location and target market. Almond milk can be distributed through supermarkets, health food stores, online retailers, and other specialty stores. The distribution process is monitored to ensure that the product reaches consumers in a timely and efficient manner.