Why I Make Soy Milk and How You Can Too
Sometimes I get really riled up about things that are not a very big deal, compared to real issues like human suffering and cruelty to animals. One thing that drives me nuts is all the stuff people add to food which doesn’t need to be in it, and that’s why I make most of the food I eat myself. I don’t like to eat sugar, and I refuse to eat corn syrup. If you start reading labels, you might be shocked and/or annoyed (or infuriated, if you’re me) to find that sugar has been added to even the most unlikely food products, like salsa or soup!! This is the kind of thing that makes me jump up and down like Rumpelstiltskin in grocery store aisles and go stomping off to the produce department with a black cloud over my head. I mean really. Why do they need to put sugar in soup??? It just drives me nuts!! This is yet another reason not to buy processed “foods,” but this happens even with the fancy organic-labelled products that cost twice as much and appear to be all natural and healthful…. Grrrrr.
I have been battling with my temper for several years due to soy milk. Every time I shop in a hurry (which is usually), I end up grabbing a box of soy milk that appeared to be normal, plain, unsweetened soy milk when I glanced at the big letters on the front (call me crazy, but I usually assume that plain means plain)…..and then at home when I check the fine print, it turns out to be full of added sweetener and flavorings and all sorts of stuff that I personally would not expect (or want) to find in “plain soy milk.” (Westsoy plain unsweetened soy milk, actually is, by the way, but most of the others are extremely not.)
Moreover, I have never been very comfortable with liquids that are stored in plastic containers. Those soy milk cartons are not only a recycling nightmare, but they cradle the soy milk in plastic. It’s been pretty clearly established that liquids that sit in plastic pick up the chemicals from the plastic and put them right into you, which does weird things to your hormone levels and who knows what else. Not to mention all the bad things plastic does to everybody else, but that’s another conversation.
So when I added some “plain unsweetened” soy milk to a very nice fresh pesto sauce I was making one evening, for a dinner guest no less, and suddenly smelled a strange warm vanilla scent rising from the olive oil, basil and pine nuts in my sauce pan, it was the final straw. First I sent some incensed emails to the soy milk company, asking them why “plain, unsweetened” actually means “we added vanilla and sweet things and called it “natural flavor”,” and then I decided the time had finally come. I needed a soy milk maker. Now obviously I am always reluctant to add more plug-in appliances to my life, but at this point, it had to happen.
I bought a Soyapower Plus soy milk maker from Amazon, for $120, and some dried soy beans. I figure that since I normally buy 1 carton of pre-made soy milk every week, it would pay for itself in about a year. Not counting the times I buy soy milk that turns out to be undrinkable by me. And, no more drinking soy milk soaked in plastic chemicals, and no more feeling like an eco terrorist every time I throw away those cartons. These things were all good. But I had never actually made soy milk, or seen it done, so….
As it turns out, it’s very simple. I bought a glass pitcher from the thrift store for $1 to keep the soymilk in my fridge. I also use a large glass pyrex pitcher (which I already had but you can buy at the grocery store or Target or the thrift store if you get lucky–you could also use this for keeping it in the fridge if you can’t find a little scotty dog pitcher at the thrift store) for the decanting process, so as to avoid pouring hot soy milk in the plastic pitcher that came with it (I’m not kidding about this liquid/plastic thing, you can research it. and it’s even worse to put hot liquids in plastic). After making the soy milk a few times, I found that it tasted a little “soy beany” with all soy beans, so I started to make a blend of brown rice, soy beans (half and half) with about 6 organic almonds thrown in for good measure. It’s amazing how little rice, soy and almonds it takes to make a pitcher full of soy milk. The little measuring cup is like an oversized thimble. It’s plastic, by the way, but everything is dry when you measure it. 🙂
Usually I put the rice, soy and almonds in a glass full of water and let them soak either all day or overnight. Then I fill the maker with water to the line inside, toss in the beans, and turn it on. When it starts beeping at me, I open it up, clean off the inside parts immediately (because if you wait at all, it’s harder to clean), and then pour the soymilk through a mesh strainer (comes with the soy maker) into my big pyrex pitcher. I let it sit on the counter for a couple of hours to cool, because this causes more sediment to settle, and also seems to make it taste good. After that, I strain it from the pyrex pitcher into my little scotty dog pitcher, and put it in the fridge.
When I notice I’m getting low (usually in a week or less), I put some beans in to soak again.
It’s pretty darn easy. And now I can save my passion for things that are truly maddening, like Sarah Palin and rooster fighting.