After a successful maiden voyage on the seas of plant-based milk with my almond adventure, I was eager to try my hand at soy milk.
While I wouldn’t kick a box of soy milk out of the fridge, I’ve enjoyed the real-deal for years. Whenever I visited Vinh Loi Tofu in Reseda, California, I grabbed a bottle of freshly made soy milk. Kevin Tran, who owns the restaurant, makes his own (and tofu too).
There’s definitely a difference in comparison to the conventional stuff Americans have on their grocery shelves. Fresh soy milk has a noticeable beany quality. Where fresh almond milk has a pleasant, somewhat blank flavor, soybeans make their legume-history clear.
Before starting, I made a perfunctory glance on the internet and learned that homemade soy milk is made with dried soybeans, not fresh edamame like I’d originally presumed.
On my next grocery trip, I stopped by the bulk bins and loaded up with a pound of organic dried beans, roughly the weight I’d buy to make beans from scratch. That night I covered the beans with water, and when I awoke they were ready.
At that point, I decided to consult more thoroughly with a video on making soy milk from scratch (without a soy milk maker).
I followed the recipe on the video, but I didn’t include sugar or the pandan leaf, which has the taste of vanilla. I knew I wanted to use the milk for both sweet and savory uses, and so I left it a blank canvas.
After my research, I realized I’d already made some beginner mistakes.
Here’s what I wish I would have known before making soy milk from scratch…
1. Just a cup or two of dried soybeans will work for a household of two.
While the beans were soaking overnight, they expanded to over twice their size.
To make soy milk, a person adds three and a half cups of water for every cup of beans. Of course, not all of the liquid makes it through the cheesecloth straining, and it will cook down to some degree, but even just a cup or two of dried beans will likely be plenty for two people.
Also, the soak, blend with water, filter with cheesecloth, simmer on the stove method isn’t too arduous for a couple cups of soybeans. For a pound, it’s a lot of work. I was in the kitchen for about two hours.
2. Homemade soy milk goes bad more quickly than boxed varieties.
From what I read after I was committed to the process, homemade soy milk should be enjoyed within three days to a week. Otherwise, it will start to curdle.
After the soybeans were strained and the cooking was done, what remained was jar, after jar, after jar, after jar of soy milk. That’s a lot to use in a few days’ time.
I gave three jars away, made cream of broccoli soup, mashed potatoes, had soy milk in my tea, and soy milk in my coffee (not recommended)… I was starting to feel like Forrest Gump’s best friend in the singularity of my food trends.
Oh, and did I mention that I also soaked almonds on the same evening, and so I had three jars of almond milk too? My refrigerator looked like I was on some kind of liquid fast. It was ridiculous.
I tried to get down as much soy milk as I could in as short of time possible, but it’s been a week since I’ve made it and by using the very scientific “sniff test,” mine still seems okay.
(And there are two jars left! Egads.)
Regardless, next time I’ll err on the side of caution and only make as much as I can easily use within a few days. Plus, it’s much less of a hassle to do the blending, straining, cooking process when it’s being done for a smaller amount of beans.
What I also didn’t realize when I grabbed the amount of dried soybeans I’d use to make chickpeas or pintos from scratch is that…
3. Unlike beans made from scratch, fresh soy milk cannot be frozen without compromising the texture.
If it’s frozen, it has to be used in ways other than drinking by the glass. (Think smoothies.)
I was hoping that since I was flooded with soy milk, I could just freeze it and use it later, but no such luck. Although, I did fill a couple of ice cube trays with soy milk to use in iced tea and for making smoothies.
Will I make soy milk again someday?
Sure. But honestly, almond milk is a lot more versatile. It tastes good in coffee and smoothies, there’s no beany taste to compete with, and it’s easier. There’s still the soaking, blending, and straining, but there’s no cooking after that.
Plus, after the soy milk extravaganza that has been this week, it may be a while until that seems like a fun way to pass the morning.