I think there’s a conspiracy to get people to eat crap – and I don’t mean junk food. Nope, this is a whole new, wonderful world of crap: a bizarre twist on the old, familiar version. This involves eating what’s left over after you’ve made milk.
Okay, just to clarify – I’m not talking about cows here. I mean, obviously, you don’t actually make the milk, the cow does: it just requires you to go and milk the cow. And the only thing that would be left over to eat from that particular venture would be the cow. Which would mean you’d be killing your source of milk. Not a good idea, really. Nor does it actually qualify as vegetarian (which I am). So, no - cows are out.
No, I’m talking about having discovered the wondrous universe of homemade nut milk. In fact, as I’ve recently discovered, you can make milk from lots of things (rice, oats, soya beans, seeds): which is kind of logical, really, considering you can buy all these different varieties – at a price. If you ever consider going vegetarian/vegan, and becoming a health food nut, make sure you have a healthy bank balance first. And for what you pay for a litre of milk, you’d expect that you’d be getting something exceptional: or, at the least, something which resembled the thing from which it was supposed to be made. Instead of which, the predominant ingredients in most of them is water and some kind of sweetener: and you get approximately 7% almonds (or soya beans, etc). So paying £3 for a litre of almond milk means that you’re buying a very expensive, flavoured water.
What I didn’t realise was just how easy it is to make the stuff, and how much nicer it tastes (well, some of them, anyway: oat milk is rather slimey). But I do now. And my new obsession is with making milk. I even bought a blender, especially for the task. It’s great. I’m in love with my blender. It also makes wonderfully smooth soup.
But I digress. So, I have been making almond milk. I did my research first, and acquired about a hundred different versions of the same recipe. And, in the process, I discovered that you could also use the pulp that is left over from the almonds. There’s even a whole web site dedicated to the care and use of almond pulp – almondpulp.com. Seriously! Not to mention all the individuals out there who have also come up with their own ideas.
Of course I figured it must be good, if so many people were saying it was – which they were. And there was the whole question of it being an environmentally good thing to do, with regard to not wasting anything. So, on my first attempt at making milk, I decided to keep said pulp, and then stick it in one of my own recipes. It has to be said that it doesn’t actually look particularly appetising – kind of like damp, mashed-up, crumbly cardboard. And hey! that’s how it tasted. Perhaps “tasted” is too strong a word for something that actually had no flavour to it, and which was so dry it felt like I was eating a portion of the Sahara desert.
However, true to my persistent nature (when it comes to obsessions), I decided that perhaps the problem lay with my recipe, and that I should give it another go, this time following a ‘proper’ recipe off the web. I found loads – interestingly enough, none of them suggestions for using it in papier mache. And, on my next milk venture, I duly saved the pulp (much like Save the Whale), and proceeded to follow two suggestions – one for crackers (which I have been considered to be on numerous occasions), and the other for an alternative version of houmous.
How can I best describe the taste experience which followed? It truly is difficult to impart the full impact of eating something which, even with added to it a whole host of ingredients meant to give flavour and moisture, is still able to resolutely retain its full character in the face of a head-on assault by people trying to make it into something it isn’t – edible. Let’s face it, it’s pulp! I mean, even the name gives away the truth. It’s dry and it’s bland, and it’s literally the crap left over after you’ve soaked, blended, and squeezed out from it all of the goodness. I nearly choked on the crackers, and had to throw half the houmous away, thereby wasting not only the pulp itself but the ingredients added to it in order to save it from being wasted in the first place!
Its blandness reminded me of that other inedible disaster of the health gourmet world – tofu. And the hype for this stuff is phenomenal – they have been able to turn its lack of flavour into one of its biggest selling points, describing it as being versatile and great for soaking up other flavours. Funnily enough, despite persisting at great length with it (having believed the hype, and convinced myself that I really did like it, and it was really good for my health), I never did discover any way to mask the blandness (except, perhaps, when I mashed it with tinned sardines. Yes, I said sardines – in tomato sauce). Fresh, it was like a solid block of taste-free blancmange: frozen and defrosted it took on the texture, and probable taste, of a sponge. Perhaps someone should come up with a recipe that combines the two, see if they cancel each other out. It could be the taste sensation of the decade.
Call me fickle, but I gave up on it in the end. I realised that life’s too short to be eating foods you don’t enjoy, just because you’re told it’s good for your health. Of course, I have to keep reapplying this maxim because I will keep on forgetting, and insist on trying to include in my diet every new food I’m told has the potential to cure all known ailments and combat ageing. I swear I’d eat elephant poo if it was marketed correctly. Who cares about taste, just tell me the health benefits – my favourite words on the web.
You know the real irony of this attempt to avoid waste, though, is the fact that some of the recipes which require the nutritious, delicious pulp to be cooked actually necessitate that it be put in the oven on the lowest setting for twenty hours. No, you didn’t read that wrongly. No, that isn’t a typing error. Yes, I said twenty HOURS! This is in order that the enzymes left over from it having been blended to death (so, surely, there can’t be that many remaining?) are kept intact, thereby assuring its continued nutritional benefit. Can you imagine how much energy is being wasted all over the world by all the people following these recipes, in an attempt to avoid wasting a bit of left-over rubbish?
And now here’s the really ironic bit: you’re not actually cooking, but dehydrating it. This stuff, which is already as parched as the bleached remains of a dead camel in the desert, is then going to be sucked dry of the tiny bit of moisture that couldn’t be squeezed out of it for milk. Are these people vampires? And I’m told I’m bonkers! Well, hey, I must be ‘cos I tried the recipe – though the version I followed required the crackers to be left in the oven for twenty minutes, rather than hours. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t taste so good? Perhaps I should give the longer version a try ... and join the rest of the dehydrating world in wasting energy, and time, trying to come up with useful things to do with pulp.