Tested by Vivian Chan for Food Network Kitchen
For the last decade, non-dairy milk alternatives have been on a steady rise. Perhaps it’s the growing vegan community or the need to take better care of our planet from climate change or simply the desire to know what is in our food and drinks. Regardless of why, the evolution of nut and oat milks has sprouted another need — the nut milk maker for the home-cook. Almond Cow has been a favorite choice amongst this category. I have been a fan of milk alternatives for numerous years and have made my own several times at home, but it is usually a bit of a timely process. When I heard about the ease promised by Almond Cow, I was curious and eager to see if it could live up to the hype.
What Is the Almond Cow?
Before we get into the testing, let’s chat about what the Almond Cow is. It is a plant-based milk maker with more than 240K followers on Instagram and more than 6,200 4.5-star reviews on Amazon. You can say this is the “influencer” of the nut milk makers. They promise to make nut, grain and seed milk with ease — no soaking, no bags, no straining. Instead, this milk can be achieved with a touch of a button. The machine consists of just a stainless-steel base, filter basket and lid. In terms of size, the Almond Cow fits under most cabinets and is similar size to a Nespresso Vertuo machine.
The milk maker machine alone retails for $195, and there are two additional options, The Bundle for $217.90 and The Starter set for $292.70. The Bundle includes the Almond Cow, glass jug and jug brush. The Starter Set includes everything from the Bundle plus an 11-pound assortment of nuts and oats. Compared to other nut milk makers with the same capacity, the price is slightly on higher side. Yet, I think it is justified considering the blade is much bigger and more powerful and will give you a higher yield.
How Does the Almond Cow Work?
Almond Cow claims that you are just one button away from fresh and delicious nut milk. And while that is true — there is only one button on the entire machine — there are a handful of (easy) steps to do before you get to that point. Whether you are making a small batch (about two heaping cups) or a larger, five-cup batch, you’ll want to start by adding water to the stainless-steel base and filling the filter basket with ingredients of your choice. Next, secure the basket to the blade with a simple twist. Then, insert the top directly into the carafe, which sits in the center of the stainless-steel pitcher. Once aligned and plugged in, you simply press the button. One cycle consists of three different rounds of grinding, which are about 15 seconds per round. Once complete, the blinking green will become a solid green. Lift the top, and simply pour the milk into your storage container of choice.
What Do You Do with the Pulp?
Once your milk is emptied, there will be some leftover pulp in the filter basket. While you might be inclined to throw it away, Almond Cow encourages you to reuse the pulp in the kitchen. In our experience, not all pulp is the same. From the four pulps I had, the best tasting one was the almond with the dates and a pinch of sea salt. I added some toppings of berries, ground cinnamon and chia seeds, and it was fine to eat as a breakfast item. The pistachio pulp felt richer than the almond, so I added it to my smoothie, and it was fine. As for the oats, consistency was my main issue. It was too gloopy and starchy. I looked through the recipe booklet and tried to be inspired, but, honestly, I didn’t want to go through the process of preparing it for a recipe. In the end, I added to my compost, so I guess it will help “feed” the pile.
How Does the Milk Taste?
Regardless of price, size and looks, the real question you probably have is taste. How does it compare to packaged cartoons or jugs? Overall, the flavor seems to be subtle and diluted compared to its shelf stable frenemy. To be fair, these fresh “milks” do not have preservatives, added sugars and thickeners to give it a rich mouthfeel. However, I was hoping the flavor would be stronger. From the four milks, pistachios felt the most flavorful, and even that tasted like it was watered down slightly and didn’t have that beautiful pastel green shade I was hoping for. Classic oat milk did not have a grainy texture and no residue, which was a huge plus. I had the highest hopes for the two almonds milks I made, one of which was flavored and the other plain. With a name like Almond Cow, how could one not be excited? It was super smooth, but the plain almond lacked flavor. The one with dates, sea salt and vanilla extract was my favorite. To increase flavor, I would try to increase the amount of nuts, grains or oats per the recipe — but be careful not to overfill the canister, otherwise it will not grind properly. Sadly, the option of using less water is out because it must reach the minimum line for the machine to work properly.
Who Should Buy This?
Having tested out the Almond Cow Milk Machine, I can tell you that is a fun process, especially if you have kids. Watching almonds, grains and other nuts turn into “milk” in less than one minute with no additional prep is truly a fun, hands-on process. However, the cost per machine and raw ingredients versus the convenient store-bought options might understandably make you think twice before jumping on the milk-maker bandwagon. While the cost of ingredients might not lend you to saving money on your at-home milk, the real perks are the elimination of preservatives, customizable flavor profile and control the sugar, if desired.
As for cleanup, we found the process to be difficult considering the three-prone blade is very sharp. And while it is the same size as most countertop appliances, it still is another gadget you’re adding to your kitchen. This milk also has a more limited shelf life than its store-bought counterparts at about three-to-five days. (In my experience, that range is closer to three days.) I do appreciate the option for a two-cup versus a five-cup yield, which other nut milk makers do not provide. I personally would opt for the two-cup portion, so I can keep a fresher batch in my fridge and avoid keep it from expiring. Overall, my thoughts are if you have the space, are an avid non-dairy milk consumer and want to customize flavors and ingredient combinations, this gadget is for you. It is an extremely easy and foolproof machine to use, and there’s only one button to start your journey to homemade non-dairy milk making.