When Was Almond Milk Invented? (Explained By Experts)

Almond milk has become a popular alternative to dairy milk in recent years, but have you ever wondered when it was first invented?

The history of almond milk dates back centuries, with mentions of it appearing in cookbooks from the Middle East and Europe. In fact, almond milk was a common ingredient in medieval European cookery, and it was even considered a luxury item due to its high cost.

But where did it all begin? In this article, we’ll explore the origins of almond milk and how it became the dairy-free milk alternative we know today.

When Was Almond Milk Invented?

The earliest mentions of almond milk can be traced back to the Middle East in the 13th century, where it was featured in a Baghdadi cookery book. It was also described extensively in a 14th-century Egyptian cookery book, which highlighted the use of almonds and almond milk in their cuisine.

England wasn’t too far behind, with almond milk being mentioned in English literature in 1390. However, almond milk as we know it today – a plant-based milk with a watery texture and nutty flavor – was not a part of ancient cuisine. Instead, it seems to have been invented in medieval Europe.

Almond milk was made by soaking ground almonds in water and then straining through a cloth. It quickly became a popular ingredient in pretty much every medieval European cookbook. In fact, it was claimed that it was the single most important ingredient in late medieval cookery.

However, the almond and its milk were not cheap. For much of northern Europe, which imported the nut from sunnier climes, it was a pricey, exotic ingredient that appeared mainly on the tables of the nobility. Despite its cost, almond milk may have been more prevalent than cow’s milk due to the health risks associated with drinking cow’s milk at the time.

The Origins Of Almond Milk In The Middle East

Almonds, the primary ingredient in almond milk, are native to the Middle East, India, and North Africa and have been a staple in local cuisines for centuries. They were one of the earliest trees to be domesticated by humans around 5,000 years ago and were spread along the shores of the ancient Mediterranean into southern Europe, northern Africa, and eastward towards India.

While almond milk was not a part of ancient cuisine, almonds appear in early Sumerian culinary texts and are mentioned frequently in the Bible. They were even buried alongside Tutankhamun to nourish him in the afterlife. However, it wasn’t until the 13th century that almond milk was first mentioned in a Baghdadi cookery book in the Middle East.

Some research indicates that almond milk’s history might go back even farther in the Middle East. “The origins are a little obscure. There are people who claim that it came with Arabic cuisine or even Baghdad cuisine,” says Ken Albala, a history professor at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.

Almond milk was seen as a nutritious alternative to meat and animal-based milk during fasting periods like Lent. It was also used therapeutically as it is easier to digest than cow’s milk. During the Middle Ages, almond milk became widely used in Europe during Lent as a replacement for dairy milk but also in recipes for children, presumably because it’s easy on digestion.

Almond Milk In Medieval Europe: A Luxury Item

During the Middle Ages, almond milk was considered a luxury item in Europe. The cost of almonds was high, and they had to be imported from warmer regions. This made almond milk an expensive ingredient that was mainly used by the wealthy and noble families.

However, the high cost of almond milk did not stop it from becoming a popular alternative to cow’s milk. Cow’s milk was not considered safe due to the lack of refrigeration and pasteurization. The risk of consuming spoiled or contaminated milk was high, which made almond milk a safer and more dependable option.

Almond milk also played a significant role in religious dietary restrictions during the Middle Ages. Christians were forbidden from consuming dairy, eggs, and meat on specific days of the year, including every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and the 40 days of Lent. Almond milk provided a tasty and useful alternative that could be added to a range of dishes in place of milk.

Despite its high cost, almond milk was widely used in medieval European cuisine. It was a key ingredient in many recipes, including savory dishes like soups and stews as well as sweet desserts like custards and blancmanges. It could even be turned into “almond cheese” and a faux butter by combining it with salt, sugar, and vinegar.

How Almond Milk Became A Popular Dairy-Free Alternative

Almond milk gained popularity as a dairy-free alternative in the 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States, particularly among Seventh Day Adventists, who were traditionally vegetarian or vegan. Almonds and other nuts were used as replacements for milk, cream, and meat in many dishes.

Acknowledged by health food proponents, almond milk gained in popularity on both sides of the Atlantic. In fact, sales of almond milk even surpassed soy milk in the United States in 2013.

Today, almond milk is a common dairy-free alternative that is widely available in grocery stores and coffee shops. It is made by blending almonds with water and straining the mixture to remove any solids. Almond milk has a nutty flavor and a creamy texture that makes it a popular choice for coffee drinks, smoothies, and baking recipes.

In addition to being a tasty alternative to dairy milk, almond milk also has health benefits. Compared to cow’s milk, most plant-based milks contain up to 75 percent less fat and are lower in calories. Almond milk is also rich in vitamin E, which has antioxidant properties that can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

The Nutritional Benefits Of Almond Milk

Almond milk has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. It is a dairy-free alternative that is rich in nutrients and low in calories. One cup of almond milk contains only 39 calories, which is half the amount of calories in a cup of skim milk. Additionally, almond milk is an excellent and natural source of vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect your body from free radical damage. Some varieties are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, which are important nutrients for bone health.

Moreover, almond milk is rich in magnesium, a mineral that many American diets fall short on. Magnesium is important for muscle function, blood sugar control, blood pressure, and making bone, protein, and DNA. Almond milk is also a good source of antioxidant vitamin E, which is important for your immune system and blood vessels. Studies have shown a link between high vitamin E intake and a lower risk of cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.

Furthermore, almond milk is low in sugars and carbohydrates compared to animal milk. Unsweetened almond milk has 50% to 80% fewer calories than dairy milk and is considered a low glycemic index food. This means it’s less likely to cause blood sugar spikes. Almond milk is also dairy-free, making it a good milk substitute for people with lactose intolerance or who are vegan.

However, it’s important to note that almond milk is not a suitable replacement for breast milk, cow’s milk, or hydrolyzed formulas for children under two years of age due to its low protein content. Additionally, some brands of almond milk may contain added sugar or be high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can cause inflammation in the body if consumed in excess. Therefore, it’s important to check the nutrient labels before purchasing almond milk products.

Almond Milk Recipes To Try At Home

Almond milk is a versatile and healthy dairy-free milk that can be used in a variety of recipes. Here are some almond milk recipes to try at home:

1. Almond Milk Smoothie: Blend almond milk with your favorite fruits and vegetables for a nutritious and delicious smoothie. Try blending almond milk with banana, strawberries, and spinach for a sweet and healthy treat.

2. Almond Milk Latte: Brew your favorite coffee, heat almond milk on the stove, and froth the milk using a handheld frother or blender. Pour the frothed almond milk over the coffee for a creamy and delicious latte.

3. Almond Milk Oatmeal: Instead of using water or cow’s milk, try making your oatmeal with almond milk for a creamy and flavorful breakfast. Add your favorite toppings like fruit, nuts, and honey for added flavor.

4. Almond Milk Cream Sauce: Heat almond milk on the stove and whisk in flour or cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Add garlic, herbs, or cheese for added flavor and pour over pasta or vegetables for a creamy and healthy sauce.

5. Almond Milk Ice Cream: Blend almond milk with frozen fruit, honey, and vanilla extract for a healthy and delicious ice cream alternative. Freeze the mixture for several hours before serving for a creamy and refreshing dessert.