Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How to Make Soy Milk

This was cross-posted over at DIY Mama

Homemade soy milk is easy, inexpensive, and delicious!  If the only soy milk you've ever had is from the grocery store, you're in for a real treat.  It keeps in the refrigerator for three days, so you can make as big (or as small) a batch as you need.  I make 2 quarts at a time, which is enough for my daughter for three days, plus a glass or two for me.
This is a really simple process- soak your beans, grind your beans, boil your beans, strain your beans.  The rest of this post is a LOT picture heavy, but keep those four steps in mind!
Homemade Soy Milk
What You'll Need (for 2 quarts)
1/2 pound dried soybeans
8 cups of water
bowl for soaking
large pot
cold water
tea towel or cheese cloth
large bowl or pot (needs to "nest" under the colander.)
Are you ready?
Measure out your soy beans, and let soak until you can easily bite through- about 8-12 hours or overnight.  Change the water a few times during the soaking time.
soaking soybeans- 1/2 pound is about 1 1/4 cup.  See those bubbles at the top?  The beans make the water kind of slimy.
This is what dried soybeans look like- they're round.  Don't spill them, you'll never find them all!
Soaked soybeans.  They're not round anymore.
At the end of the soaking time, reach into your beans and massage them a bit with your hands to crack them in half and slough the skins off- this will make the process more efficient.  Drain and rinse your beans, and either float or pick as many skins out as you can.
massaged beans
Here are three possible outcomes: whole bean, split bean, sloughed off skin
Soybeans have an enzyme that, if not destroyed with heat, will make your soy milk bitter or beany.  Microwave your drained and rinsed soybeans for 2 minutes before putting your beans in a blender with enough water to just cover- blend on high 2 to 3 minutes.  (If they don't blend, add a bit more water.)  They should turn into a foamy puree by the end.
foamy soybean puree
Measure 8 cups/2 quarts of water into your biggest pot, and add the soybean puree.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer.  Cook 20-25 minutes.  Don't walk away for a little bit- this will foam up.  You need to be there to stir it down.  If it can't be stirred down, toss in a bit of cold water to deflate it- maybe a 1/4 cup.  It will slow down after a few minutes, but come back every 5 minutes or so to stir and make sure it's not sticking.  I like to get this going while I'm cleaning other parts of the kitchen, so I'm right there and it's not a big deal to reach over and stir.  You can brush a little oil or non-stick spray around the top of the pan to keep it from boiling over, too.
Starting to foam up.  Two seconds after this shot I threw down the camera to stir.
Just added some water- see where it foamed to?
After it's simmered 20-25 minutes, the foaming should have stopped and you can see grains floating in your milky liquid.
Nest your colander over a pot or bowl, and line it with a thin towel or a few thicknesses of cheese cloth.  You could sew your towel into a simple bag shape, and that would make the process easier too.
I'm pretty sure that using a raggedy old flour sack towel, with my dorky embroidery, makes for a much finer product.
Pour the soy milk into the colander, and start stirring and scraping with a wooden spoon.
Just poured it in
Scraping soybean puree from the bottom, so the liquid can pass through
keep stirring and scraping
it's getting there!
When most of the liquid has drained out, gather up the edges of your cloth and twist together to push as much liquid out as you can.  I hold it steady with the wooden spoon while I twist with the other hand.
You've made soy milk!
What's left over is called okara- it's bland and a little beany.  You can dry it to a powder in the oven and use it in cooking, but I give it to my worms in the vermicompost bin.
Enjoy!  This is delicious plain, or you can sweeten with a bit of sugar.  I like to add a few tablespoons of sugar to the pitcher with a pinch of kosher salt.

Sources I researched:
http://www.justhungry.com/milking-soy-bean-part-1-soy-milk (Best resource I found- she has information on making this into tofu, too.  She says you can use a food processor to grind your beans, but I didn't have good luck with that.)


  1. I love homemade soy milk. Tastes just like Chinese grocery soy milk. My mom used to make it quite often. Tastes so much better than grocery store milk.

  2. This is driving me bananas - I can't leave comments on pop-up comment forms!!!!! It's been days. Grr.

    Anyhow - love the cross posting!