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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Making Soy Milk

We're down to milking only one goat, Nigella, and the milk supply is noticeably meaner. At this time of dearth, I naturally start considering my options and they're limited: forgo milk or buy milk at the store. Neither is very appealing. Those of you home dairy enthusiasts out there know what I mean--store-bought milk doesn't have the 'fresh' taste we're used to, it tastes bland and dead, and it's a flavor most of us have gotten used to because the alternative takes a whole lot of work! 

So this is the season my soy milk maker reappears. Freshly made soy milk just doesn't compare to the soy milk available at the store in the same way fresh milk cannot compare with store-bought milk. Soy milk costs next to nothing to make at home. Dried soy beans are available at Asian food markets around town at about $2.99 for 2.5lbs. My soy milk maker produces about 6 cups / 1.5 quarts / 1.4 liters of soy milk in each batch and uses 1/2 cup dried beans per batch weighing in at about 1/4 lb. 3.75 gallons of soy milk, made at home, will cost only $2.99! Even better, you control all the inputs: no artificial flavoring, sugar, preservatives . . . need I say more? Here's a little tutorial to help you get started. If you don't have a soy milk maker, you'll need to use your blender and then gently boil the slurry for a predetermined amount of time but everything else remains the same--the soy milk maker is definitely worth it!

Start with dry beans

Add water and allow to soak overnight or 8 hours

Drain the beans after soaking

Fill soy milk maker bean receptacle with the soaked beans

Fill pitcher to fill line with water and add the beans

Press start and wait about 20 minutes

Finished soy milk!

This is the ground mash called 'Okara'. Okara should be scooped into cheesecloth and pressed as it contains quite a bit of rich soy milk

Strain the soy milk through a cheesecloth

Add the Okara to the cheesecloth and press, and press, and press until you've released all the soy milk

Here's the Okara after pressing, it takes on the shape and impressions of the cheesecloth and your hand

Break up the Okara to help it dry uniformly. At this point you can follow a recipe for turning it into soup, granola, fritters, the list goes on and on. You can even feed it to your livestock. I often give it to my dairy goats as Okara helps encourage milk production in dairy animals.

You can add any flavoring you like (or not!), my favorite is almond extract. I add 2 teaspoons per batch as it gives a delicate fragrance and pleasant flavor. I find no need to add sugar after adding the almond extract--though sometimes I do add some honey. 

Hot, freshly made soy milk flavored with almond extract and a spoonful of honey is a treat  on a cold winter day! I always keep some soybeans soaking in the refrigerator so that I can make a fresh batch the moment I run out. Enjoy!