Almond milk was first introduced to Southern Europe about 1,000 years ago and later to California in the 19th century. There are multiple records of almond milk being a prevalent element in Christian and Islamic civilizations during the Middle Ages.
Where did almond milk come from?
Almonds, a Middle Eastern native, were one of the first trees to be domesticated by humans, some 5,000 years ago. They migrated across southern Europe, northern Africa, and eastward to India along the ancient Mediterranean’s coastlines. They exist in early Sumerian culinary books, are frequently mentioned in the Bible, and were even buried alongside Tutankhamun to feed him after he died.
Almond milk, on the other hand, was not a component of traditional food. It was created by soaking ground almonds in water and then filtering through a cloth. Rather, it appears to have originated in medieval Europe. Europeans couldn’t get enough of it once they got a taste for it.
What’s the story behind almond milk?
The US Food and Drug Administration is still attempting to figure out what milk is in 2018.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated his displeasure with the term at a policy summit on July 17 “Nondairy products such as soy milk, oat milk, and almond milk are all labeled using the word “milk.” “An almond does not produce lactose,” he explained.
Gottlieb’s position is not based on semantics. He claims that lumping dairy and nondairy milks together deceives customers into thinking they are nutritional equals, which he claims could lead to serious effects such as rickets in children. “One of the reasons we’re emphasizing this endeavor to take a closer look at the standards of identity for dairy products is because of such public health concerns,” he noted in a press statement.
Of course, a more cynical interpretation of the issue suggests that Big Dairy is attempting to discredit plant milks, the industry’s main competitor, as a viable substitute for cow’s milk through the FDA.
Whatever the case may be, nutritionists, food historians, and even lexicographers are baffled by the FDA’s view on what constitutes milk and what does notand what is ultimately at stake. Professor emerita of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, Marion Nestle, explains why Gottlieb’s assumption is flawed. “I’m not aware of any proof that the American diet causes major vitamin deficits,” she says. “After infancy, milk isn’t necessary, and individuals who don’t drink it can receive the nutrients they need from other sources.”
The use of the word “milk” to refer to “the white liquid of various plants” (the second definition of milk in the Oxford American Dictionary) has a long linguistic history. For its milky liquid, the Latin root word for lettuce is lact, as in lactate, indicating that even the Romans had a fluid definition for milk.
Almond milk, according to Ken Albala, a history professor at the University of the Pacific and host of the podcast Food: A Cultural Culinary History, “appears in almost every medieval cookbook.” Almonds, which originated in the Middle East, arrived in southern Europe with the Moors around the eighth century, and its milkyes, medieval Europeans called it milk in their many languages and dialectsbecame popular with aristocrats as far as Iceland.
Most European Christians at the time still followed an edict from the Didache, an early Christian book, prohibiting the consumption of animal products on Wednesdays and Fridays. “Albala claims that almond milk has “become a nutritious stand-in.” Almond milk fell out of favor in Europe as the Church and its adherents became more lax on the subject of fasting, but it may still be found in dishes like ajo blanco, a white gazpacho thickened with bitter almonds. Blancmange, a savory entre of chicken mashed with almond milk and rosewater that’s better known now as a panna cotta-like dessert, was the last dish to employ it.
Doufujian, a forerunner to soy milk, became popular in 14th-century China at the same time as almond milk was becoming popular in Europe. For breakfast, the protein-rich liquid was ladled hot into bowls and served alongside crisp, delicious doughnuts. Products derived from milk “In his 1973 book, Food in History, culinary historian Reay Tannahill pondered on how “weren’t ever really to catch on in China save in the days of the Tang as a fleeting fashion.” “China’s inhabitants, like those in other non-pastoral societies, had their own perfectly acceptable milk substitutes.”
Nondairy milks were plentiful in many other societies around the world: For years, if not millennia, coconut milk, prepared by soaking grated coconut in water, has formed the backbone of Southeast Asian, African, and Indian cuisines. (Some languages, such as Thai, Filipino, and Swahili, have a distinct name for coconut milk, but others, such as Farsi, Hindi, and Punjabi, use a generic term.) “Both animal and plant-based secretions are referred to as “milk.”
Tiger nuts, a North African Berber immigration to Spain, are still the principal ingredient in horchata, Valencia’s characteristic summer beverage, to this day. Hazelnut and pistachio milks were also mentioned in medieval cookbooks, however nothing is known about their origins.
Drinking fresh milk, whether plant-based or not, as a beverage was unusual until the nineteenth century. “Until contemporary times, there was no cow’s milk trade,” explains Anne Mendelson, food journalist and author of Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages, published in 2008. “Animal milk was infrequently drunk on its own in regions where people could digest lactose, but it was more regularly fermented, making it more digestible and less hospitable to hazardous germs.”
The perishability of cow milk is one of the main reasons why more people aren’t consuming it; producing it on a large scale is a costly and complex endeavor. The current dairy industry requires live cows, pricey machinery, and refrigerated vehicles, which is proving to be an unsustainable financial model. Small dairies, which were previously ubiquitous, are now disappearing like flies.
Milk sales have been dropping and will continue to plummet through at least 2020, according to a 2016 report from market research firm Mintel. “The dairy business is in a lot of crisis right now,” says Mendelson, who notes that Big Dairy in the United States has only been able to stay afloat thanks to federal government subsidies.
Plant milks, predictably, pose a serious danger to the dairy industry’s survival. Nondairy milk sales climbed 61 percent between 2012 and 2017, according to another Mintel analysis, a figure that is certain to make large dairy producers squirm.
“We have a new FDA leadership that is quite sympathetic to corporate concerns,” Nestle says of the new FDA leadership. “I’d move rapidly right now if I were running a significant dairy enterprise and found a possibility to put my competitors in a negative light.”
The Rice Dreams and Vita Cocos of the world can certainly exhale if plant-milk nomenclature is the best the dairy business has to offer. The FDA might be able to get rid of it “Nondairy milk labels will be removed, although this is unlikely to have a significant impact on consumer behavior. If anything, it might be a boost to the plant-milk sector, similar to how it was for the dairy industry “The 2014 “vegan mayo wars” resulted in eggless spreads.
Consumers are likely to continue buying the nondairy milks they’ve been drinking for millennia unless the FDA can establish definitively that nut milks induce rickets, for example. When it comes to the latest dairy nomenclature debate, culinary historian Albala says, “Nut milks are where I’m betting.”
When did almond milk first become popular?
Almond milk remained a niche health food item in the United States until the early 2000s, when its popularity began to rise. Almond milk sales climbed by 79 percent in 2011. It surpassed soy milk as the most popular plant-based milk in the United States in 2013.
Why is almond milk not the same as regular milk?
Almonds cannot be milked because they do not lactate, according to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. But categorizing milk only on the basis of its production process isn’t going to cut it. Perfect Day, a corporation established in the United States, produces dairy products without the use of udders or even cows. They genetically engineered a protein-producing bacterium to create casein and whey, two proteins found in cow’s milk.
Who was the first to make almond milk?
The first references to almonds and almond milk are in a Baghdadi recipe book from the 13th century, as well as a 14th-century Egyptian cuisine book that describes extensive use of almonds and almond milk. Almond milk was first mentioned in English literature in 1390, thus England wasn’t far behind.
How did humans manufacture almond milk in the Middle Ages?
As a result, they needed a stand-in. While making almond milk is simple, it does need a significant amount of time and effort. Cooks first pulverized a large amount of almonds and soaked them in boiling water. The mixture was then strained through a fine mesh or cheesecloth.
It is nutritious
Although almond milk does not compare to cow’s milk in terms of nutrition, enhanced products get close.
They usually contain extra vitamin D, calcium, and protein, making them nutritionally comparable to ordinary milk.
Almond milk, on the other hand, is naturally high in various vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin E.
The table below compares the amounts of a few nutrients, vitamins, and minerals found in a cup of enriched commercial almond milk versus a cup of low-fat cow’s milk, as well as some daily values (DV) (2, 3).
What’s the deal with almond milk?
Almond milk and other dairy alternatives have become mainstream, with grocery sections dedicated to them, and they’re becoming more common in restaurants as well.
You’re paying for convenience with packaged almond milk, but be mindful that you’re not necessarily paying for a lot of almonds. You might be surprised to learn that just roughly 2% of prominent brands contain genuine nuts. This means that many popular almond-milk products are primarily made up of water and additives, with only a few almonds thrown in for good measure. So, if you buy almond milk in the hopes of reaping the nutritious benefits of almonds, you may not be getting as much as you believe.
A lawsuit is now pending against two almond milk manufacturers, Blue Diamond and Silk, alleging that the packaging of these products misleads consumers into believing they contain many more almonds than the 2% they actually do. Because manufacturers are not obligated to publish the amount of almonds on packaging, it is hard to compare different brands’ percentages.
Some of the other additives in packaged almond milk are maybe more worrying than the quantity of almonds in the goods. There’s a good reason to be hesitant about including them in your diet.
What was the first milk that wasn’t made from cow’s milk?
Plant-based combinations that resemble milk have existed for centuries before industrial manufacturing of’milks’ from legumes, beans, and nuts. Milk and infant formula were prepared from nuts by the Wabanaki and other Native American tribe communities in the northeastern United States.
Horchata, a drink made from soaked, crushed, and sweetened tiger nuts that originated in North Africa, reached Iberia (now Spain) before the year 1000. Since 1200 AD, the word “milk” has been used in English to refer to “milk-like plant fluids.”
Almond milk is described in recipes from the 13th century Levant. During the 14th century, China employed soy as a plant milk. Almond milk was used in meals like ris alkere (a type of rice pudding) in Medieval England, according to the recipe book The Forme of Cury. Coconut milk (and coconut cream) are common components in curries in many Asian cuisines, particularly in South and Southeast Asia.
Plant milks may be considered milk alternatives in Western countries, but they have long been consumed in other parts of the world, particularly in areas where lactose sensitivity is more prevalent (see especially lactose intolerance: epidemiology section).
Is almond milk composed entirely of almonds?
See this nice stock photo of almonds strewn across a glass of milk? It’s actually a pretty accurate representation of almond milk, because it turns out there aren’t any almonds in it.
According to Time, a recent lawsuit filed against Blue Diamond, the maker of Almond Breeze, says that the “almond milk” contains only 2% almonds. Water, sugar, carrageenan, and sunflower lecithin make up the majority of it. There’s no news yet on how much “breeze” is included.
Though Blue Diamond does not mention the almond percentage in the United States, a UK Almond Breeze website claims it is only 2%.
The plaintiffs claim that the product’s packaging is misleading because it claims to be “crafted from real almonds” and features photographs of them. In reality, the carton’s side depicts two hands cupping a heaping pile of almonds so plentiful that the holder is compelled to let part of them fall. Because he’s carrying so many almonds.
According to the lawsuit, the product’s packaging deceives purchasers into thinking it’s composed largely of almonds and that it’s nutritious. The claimants are suing Blue Diamond for $5 million in damages, which seems very reasonable given the amount of embarrassment this will bring to Yogalates.
The complaint doesn’t specify what percentage the average consumer would “deem suitable for purchase,” according to Time, but we’re going to guess it’s like, SOME ALMONDS.