'Soy' easy ... or is it?

_MG_5731 edit cropped smallbrightWhen one of my roommates brought a soy milk machine from her parents’ house, I was shocked to see that such a machine even existed. I usually don't like soy milk, so I never thought about how it was made. Okay, I lied. I do drink soy milk, but only in one way: ice-cold, vanilla-flavored and mixed in with instant coffee powder. On average, I buy a pack of two half-gallon cartons every other week just so I can drink this every day at work — believe me, I love my coffee-flavored soy milk! When the soy milk maker sat in my kitchen for a total of six months, I decided it was finally time to take a shot at making my very own soy milk.

The challenge (for me at least) was to figure out how to make my soy milk taste like the vanilla one I buy in the supermarket. I looked up countless recipes and how-to videos, only to reach the conclusion that it is nearly impossible to achieve the same taste. However, I figured I should still attempt to make my own since it's cheaper than buying it and healthier since it has no preservatives.

From what I’ve seen, these are the basic directions:

  1. Soak the beans in water for about 8-10 hours.
  2. Grind up the beans in a blender.
  3. Cook the pulp in water.
  4. Strain with a cheesecloth.
  5. Flavor or sweeten as desired.

Here are some general tips:_MG_5729 edit cropped small2

  • Removing the skins that cover each bean results in a less “beany” taste. However, this is difficult and time-consuming.
  • You can also add in some rice or oats to reduce the “beany” taste.
  • This same process can be used for nuts instead of soy beans to make other milks, such as almond milk.
  • Flavor the milk with pandan leaves or extracts such as vanilla.  You can also try instant coffee powder (yum).
  • Sweeten the milk with sugar, honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup.
  • Save the soy bean pulp! It’s called “okara” and can be used to bulk up foods such as chili and casserole.

I also suggest reading about VeganYumYum’s experience or watching this video from Everyday Dish for tips on how to make soy milk without a machine.

So how did my soy milk turn out? Well, it was pretty troublesome taking off the soy bean skins, but now that I have a lot of leftover soaked and peeled soy beans, it should be easier to make the next few batches. Taste-wise, it’s slightly beany, and less sweet and thinner than store-bought soy milk. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the results — my healthy drink just got healthier, and my wallet lighter!

Photos by Tammy Hui