So soya milk is a little retro, a little reminiscent of sprouts and wheatgrass and “health food”. It is not as hip and edgy as many nut and seed milks out there, but, Chez Greens, it is still going strong. It is the alternative to dairy milk that I was drinking with my coffee in the early days of my relationship with Mrs Green. Remember when soya lattes were unusual? It makes me a bit nostalgic, remembering the world before the arrival of a plethora of non-dairy milks to choose from at the corner store. An innocent time. They had not yet mapped out the genome. No one had thought to push the political boat out so far to the right it might come out in a war zone. Twitter had not been invented.
Mrs Green would characterise the soya lattes as “so California”, and I was never entirely sure that it was a compliment. In the early days of romance, when I still thought I could not “live without cheese” and thought steak was the best meal France had to offer, Mrs Green read an interview with Tim Robbins who had gone all organic and non-dairy. She read the entire piece out loud to me and prophesied that the soya lattes were only the tip of the iceberg and that, as I got older, I would start showing more and more of my true California colours. As she says, California is more of a state of aspirational self-perception and I would go all “health freak” in later life. I like Tim Robbins - he seems to be such a sensible man.
Like with the nut Milk recipe we like to use, it can be sweetened into a treat (try blending it with raw cacao and dates, yum!) and can also be used for the Cream Cheese recipe we like to make. In terms of kit, you will need a nut milk bag but otherwise it is straightforward.
Making soya milk requires some preparation which may seem to be a bit tedious. If you have space in your freezer, cook a large batch of soy beans and freeze them in bags portioned to make the recipe, or a smaller quantity of soy milk, to your preference. The forward planning required is much less off-putting if the cooking of the beans is done in advance and all you have to worry about is defrosting. You can’t use canned soy beans for this recipe, in my experience they won’t work and produce a somewhat unpleasant milk. I added the vanilla extract because Mrs Green does not really like to drink the plain home-made soya milk, she finds it “emphatically earthy”. I don’t add more than a hint, though, unless I am specifically asked to not skimp on the vanilla. Use a good quality extract (and never an essence) as it makes a big difference.
As is the case with nut milks there is a lot of “pulp” left over. We like to keep it, freeze it and then mix it with oats, maple syrup and dried fruit baked into a delicious and crunchy granola. The soya milk pulp, okara, is also the star of the Okara Project a blog dedicated to uses for the this nutrient-rich byproduct.
Ingredients: (for 4 litres of soya milk)
- 500g Dried soy beans
- Water (for soaking, cooking and - of course - 4 litres for blending)
- Vanilla extract, to taste
- Rinse and then soak the soy beans in a large pot (5 litre pot) with 2 litres of water for 12 - 18 hours. The soy beans more than double in size, so they should be soaked in a generous amount of water.
- Once soaked the soy beans are ready to cook, but should be hulled before taking them out of the pot to blend them with water to make soya milk. To hull the soy beans, use your hand to grind the beans together in the pot. As you grind them you will begin to see the hulls rise to the top of the soaking water. Continue to do so for about 5 minutes.
- Using a slotted ladle, carefully remove the hulls from the pot. Agitating the water allows the hulls to rise to the top. Remove as many as possible. All in all, the hulling process generally takes no more than 5 minutes.
- Drain and rinse the soy beans well and return to the pot with 2 litres of fresh water and bring to the boil. As the water comes to the boil, foam will start to gather at the top, simply remove the foam with a slotted ladle.
- Reduce the beans to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 2 hours or until soft. Cooked soy beans are similar to chickpeas in texture, they will not be completely soft, but also not crunchy.
- Drain beans and allow to cool.
- Blend 2 cups of cooked beans with 4 cups of water.
- Pour mixture into a nut bag and squeeze out as much liquid as possible
- Add a 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract, mix and serve! (keeps for about 3 days in the fridge)