Help me Froth my Almond Milk!
January 29, 2013 12:27 PM   Subscribe

In an effort to healthify, I've replaced milk in my coffee with almond milk (unsweetened vanilla). It is awesome and yummy. I've taken to using my aerolatte to whip it into a tasty froth before adding my coffee. Add a little cinnamon on top and magic happens. So this worked great until my last purchase of almond milk (pure almond from Silk). It Will Not Froth! MY QUESTIONS: 1. Why won't it froth? 2. Could the absence of Carrageenan be the cause? 3. Should I worry about the presence of Carrageenan in my nut milk?
posted by leotrotsky to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Part 1: if the previous stuff was frothing, then either it had more protein, more fat, or more something else (probably carageenan). You need SOMETHING giving your milk or milk substitute body in order for it to froth. Part 2: Yes, it could. Part 3: no. Carageenan is SUPER-DUPER neutral; it's made from seaweed. It's a very, very common thickener - if you eat/drink processed foods, you're consuming it. THE SOLUTION!!!: get higher fat/protein/thickening-agent almond milk. Or you could try something wacky that I read on the side of my box of powdered milk - apparently THAT stuff will froth (despite having no fat whatsoever) if blended in a high enough concentration with ice-cold water. Who'da thunk?
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:44 PM on January 29, 2013

Do you have any particular sensitivities to sea vegetables? Do you have overall inflammatory issues? Because if not, there shouldn't be any issues for you with carrageenan.

I don't use it because I have crazy inflammatory issues, but I don't see how the amount of carrageenan that would be in an almond milk latte would be an issue to someone with a normally functioning inflammatory system.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:44 PM on January 29, 2013

I drink a lot of soy milk with carrageenan in it and it foams beautifully... it's from seaweed so I don't worry at all about it. Almond milk doesn't have as much protein as soy so it might not foam without carrageenan in it and I don't have any to try in my bodum frother but I'm sure I've frothed the earth's own brand almond in the past, I used to drink a lot of a lot of moka-pot cappuccinos.
posted by glip at 12:46 PM on January 29, 2013

Do you have access to this product? If so, it may solve your foaming issues.
posted by Kitteh at 12:47 PM on January 29, 2013

caraageenan may indeed be the secret ingredient that helps it's also a perfectly healthy food additive, though admittedly somewhat's actually the vegetable protein 'slime' from off of north atlantic seaweed...odd, but actually good for you.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:47 PM on January 29, 2013

sexyrobot, carrageenan (and sea vegetables in general) consumption is strongly discouraged for people with digestive or systemic inflammatory issues.

So it's not healthy for everyone. Of course this is true of almost all foods; something might be great for most people and deleterious for some people.

This is why I'm very wary of blanket pronouncements about "eating healthy". My current calorie-dense, low-fiber, anti-inflammatory diet is what's healthy for me, but pretty much the opposite of what's generally promoted as "eating healthy".
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:52 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Kitteh, the product you linked to has carrageenan in it, which is why it foams. Products without carrageenan in them don't foam. The carrageenan replaces the milkfat as the foaming agent.

leotrotsky's choices for non-dairy lattes are non-dairy milks with carrageenan in, which will foam, or non-dairy milks without carrageenan, which will not foam. I don't think leotrotsky needs to avoid carrageenan unless they have one of the particular health issues for which carrageenan consumption is discouraged, but that's up to leotrotsky to decide.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:57 PM on January 29, 2013

Yeah, that's what I was gonna say - basically, "if you need to avoid carageenan, you probably already KNOW you need to avoid it". No food is perfect for EVERYONE, of course (hell, some babies are allergic to their mom's milk!), but carageenan is pretty low on the list of OMFG HIDDEN KILLER IN MAH NUT MILK! foods.
posted by julthumbscrew at 1:00 PM on January 29, 2013

That Silk Pure Almond is really a lifesaver for people with inflammatory digestive issues, though, because it's one of the few non-carrageenan-having non-dairy milks out there. If, God forbid, I ever have to go back on anti-inflammatory shakes instead of food, it will be so awesome not to have the added step of making my own nut milk.

I am telling you people who have properly functioning digestive systems, y'all are living in paradise and you don't even know it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:05 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Almond Breeze says their almond milk has carrageenan. I don't know whether the concentration is enough to enable foam, but I do notice it seems thicker than milk. I LOVE their Unsweetened Vanilla.
posted by lakeroon at 2:03 PM on January 29, 2013

One thing I'd recommend for a lovely, thick, fatty cup of coffee is Coconut Cream.

I found the almond milk to be too thin to really cream up my coffee, but the coconut cream is perfect.

I used Thai in the cardboard box, but I can also get it in cans in the coconut milk section of my farmers market.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:55 PM on January 29, 2013

Soy milk froths naturally and easily without any gelling agents added, although the foam is harder than a milk foam so I've been trying quite hard to make mine softer when I make my daily cappuccino.

In terms of binding gums, carrageenan is pretty much the last likely to cause digestive problems, being a protein that gets digested as opposed to the cellulose like xanthan gum which is basically pretty rough dietary fibre.
posted by ambrosen at 10:20 PM on January 29, 2013

Soy contains lecithin, which acts as a foaming agent; it's sometimes used in molecular gastronomy type stuff to create foams. So I'd imagine it might be possible, if you have no issues with lecithin, to use it to help your milk foam. The resultant foam is a lot more stiff and stable than milk foam though; it feels a bit like bubble bath foam.
posted by destrius at 8:04 AM on January 30, 2013

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