Friday, March 25, 2011

JOT #8: Soymilk

I notice this series is quickly turning into "things I've stopped buying," and this is another example. But isn't making things at home the most local you can be? I have the luxury of time, so I take the opportunity (and will share if bribed, with, say, fair trade chocolate or freedom from toddler boredom).

Being vegan, I drink a lot of non-dairy milk, and most of it is soymilk. For a while, I was buying things in milk cartons or tetrapaks, both of which are not recyclable in my area. Then I found out that Hodo Soy Beanery makes fresh unsweetened and sweetened non-GMO soymilk for sale at the farmer's market (fyi, they also make some great tofu and delicious and innovative soy-based products). It comes in plastic (non-returnable, though recyclable) bottles and was starting to add up, plus it was often not available and the tiny bottles never lasted me long. Unfortunately, no one makes soy milk in glass, to my knowledge.

I debated buying a soymilk-maker (yes, they exist!) but then found it wasn't as impossible as it seemed in my head. The soybeans are from Whole Foods or my local natural grocery store - organic, grown/processed in the US (all over, so I may never know where mine come from) and Canada.

Here's the recipe:
1 cup soybeans
12 cups water, plus more for rinsing
a pinch baking soda (optional)
mesh strainer
cheesecloth
large saucepans
blender

Soak soybeans in 6 cups of water overnight at room temperature. In the morning, knead the beans vigorously with your hands for a few minutes until the skins come loose (you don't have to remove them all) and rise to the top. Rinse beans in water, removing most of the skins.

Set up a mesh strainer over a saucepan or pasta pot and line with cheesecloth or other thin cloth. Grind beans with 6 cups of water (two times with 3 cups of water each works well), increasing speed until the puree is frothy. Pour the liquid into the strainer until only the froth and solids are left on top. Lift the cloth and use your hands to squeeze most of the rest of the liquid out (save the cloth with the soybean solids*). Gently boil the soymilk for 5-10 minutes and let cool. When fully cool, pour directly into a pitcher, or add salt/sweeteners as desired before storing. Use within a week.

*The soybean solids are called okara, and are almost as rich in protein and nutrients as soymilk or tofu. I add a half-cup to bread dough (steam first, makes it soft), or toast the okara and use in place of coconut in dishes. It also can be steamed, seasoned and served as a dish on its own. More ideas/recipes here.

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