I’ve never been a fan of cow milk. The smell makes me gag and never in my life have I ever been able to drink a glass of plain cow milk. Even so we do buy organic whole fat milk for our morning coffee, English style tea, and for cooking and baking purposes. Now and then I like to take a break from regular milk and replace it with non-dairy alternatives. Typically I would run to the health food store and buy whatever option they happen to have or one I was craving that week. While the prices tend to be a tad higher than standard milk I always felt it was worth the extra cost.
A few years ago it finally dawned on me that I could easily make my own soy and almond milks at home. Once I started I was not only saving money but also enjoying my versions much more than store bought brands. My homemade versions guarantee no preservatives, no additives, no sugar syrups or artificial sweeteners and colors, and no thickening agents. Yes, I am aware that every brand is different and I do read every package before I buy it. But making my own I know exactly what is going into the milk.
The only drawback about making non-dairy milks is that they are not fortified with vitamins and minerals like some of the commercial brands. But as long as you make sure to consume the daily requirements of vitamins and minerals then there’s no worries. It’s all about a balanced healthy diet and a multi-vitamin doesn’t hurt either. Of course if you have a soy allergy or special dietary needs it is best to stay away from soy milk and consult your doctor first.
Over the few years of making soy milk at home I have picked up some helpful tips.
- use the freshest dried soy beans possible.
- if buying organic is in your budget I highly suggest you do. If it isn’t then choose a brand with no GMO and read the label to double check.
- soaking the beans overnight for a minimum of 10 hours will really help in easier blending and better milking. They should be doubled, or more, in size after soaking. The container should be large enough to allow the beans to expand.
- either a cheese or muslin cloth can be used for straining. I use a muslin cloth and am happy with the results.
- to reduce the beanie taste remove the outer skins after soaking. This adds more work to the process and it can be skipped. It depends how much time I have and I do skip it sometimes.
- prevent a messy spill by keeping heat down and an eye on it
- the boiling causes a layer of “skin” to form on top, skim off and either discard or save for cooking. For more information read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tofu_skin
- thickness can be adjusted by adding or omitting water
- it can be sweetened or flavored if desired
- after milking the ground soybean meal is called okara. It can be saved, dried and used in baking, for fried foods or many other options. Read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okara_(food)
- the soy milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week
- to prevent it from curdling in your coffee or tea first pour the milk into the mug then add the coffee or brewed tea to it. I don’t understand the physics behind it but it just works:)
- 1 cup or 160 g dry organic soy beans
- 6-8 cups of water (1.5 to 2 liters)
- salt, to taste
- sugar, to taste and optional
- vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate or flavoring of choice, optional
- strainer or fine sieve
- muslin or cheese cloth
- large pot
- blender or food processor
- Wash and sort the soy beans then place in a large bowl and fill with water. Allow to soak overnight, change the water at least once and if needed add more water if beans soak it up. The next day beans should be doubled or more in size. Check that they are soft and can easily be cut through, if not they need to soak longer. Rinse thoroughly.
- If you would like to remove the outer shells do so now otherwise skip this step. Pour the soaked beans into a large bowl and cover with water. Grab some beans between your palms and start rubbing them together. (refer to the photo collage) This will loosen the shells so continue to do so until they separate. Place the beans back into the water and give a gentle stir with your hands. The shells will float to the top of the water or just above the beans, scoop then out and rinse the soybeans.
- Place a cheese or muslin cloth over the strainer and set on top of a large pot. No we blend the soybeans. I like to do so in batches. Place 1 cup of the soaked soybeans in the blender then add either 2 or 3 cups of water (500 or 750 ml) Cover and blend for about 3-5 minutes until the beans have completely broken down. Pour liquid into the cloth covered strainer. Allow to strain for a minute or two then bring all the ends of the cloth together and twist until all the liquid is squeezed out. Remove the ground soybean/okara and set aside, place cloth back on strainer. Blend the next batch of soaked beans and water, strain and repeat until all of the soybeans have been processed and strained. (There are 3 batches with the amount of beans I soaked.
- Place the pot on the stove over medium low heat and bring to a boil, stir from time to time. Keep an eye on the soy milk because it can bubble and over flow. Once the milk has boiled add the salt, flavoring and sweeteners you may want to add. Turn the heat down to low and allow to cook for another 20 minutes, again keep an eye on it otherwise it will make an ugly mess on the stove. Turn the heat off and allow the milk to completely cool before you use it or store it. Scoop out the "skin" or film that forms on top. Discard it or use it in cooking.
- Once soy milk has come to room temperature it can be stored in the refrigerator. Make sure to remove any skin that may have formed on top. Store in the refrigerator no more than one week.
The photo above is the leftover soybean meal after milking, this is called Okara. It has many cooking and baking uses so before discarding it do a quick recipe search.
I know this post and recipe are long. But don’t let that discourage you in any way. Most of the text is my over explaining the process.
Once you make soy milk for the first time you’ll see how easy, delicious and inexpensive it is. I love that I can decide if I want it sweet and if I want to experiment with any other flavours. Mostly I leave the soy milk plain so that I can use it in drinks, savory cooking and sweet baking.
I can never wait until it has cooled down. So I make myself a cup of English style tea in my antique tin cup with a swirl of plain homemade soy milk and some grab a few sweet biscuits too. A little bit of heaven! Enjoy the recipe and your homemade soy milk.