Monday, February 12, 2007

Homemade soy milk ups and downs

Vivacious Vegan asked me if I am happy with the purchase of my soy milk maker overall. I thought that maybe several of you have that question, so I decided to do a post just weighing what I have found to be the pros and cons. Overall, though, the answer is certainly YES--I find that it is completely worth it to own my own machine.

I'll start with the down side.

1. Cleaning the machine is a bit of a chore. It doesn't really take that long, maybe about 5-7 minutes after the soy milk is done, but it's not one of those things you can really "put off"--the sooner you clean it after it's done with the milk, the easier it is to clean. Bob hates cleaning the machine; I still hate washing the food processor more than I dislike cleaning out the soy milk maker.

2. We have to plan ahead. The machine only makes 6 cups at a time, and that's not really all that much. We find we have to make it about every other day, which means soaking the beans/grains at least 8 hours ahead of time, planning to make it several hours before it's needed so it has time to cool, and just overall not getting behind. Obviously, much less planning is needed when you just buy it from a carton.

3. The taste takes some getting used to. I like the flavor of it very much; it's better than some brands I have purchased. When you love the flavor of Silk Light Vanilla soy milk, though, and then you switch from it, you have to learn to be just as satisfied with something else. Part of this is playing with the recipe to suit your tastes--it took many trials before we settled on the method we like the best. I add rice to cut the beany flavor, and I find the barley makes it creamier and thicker, like milk should be. Another related issue is that there is some very fine sediment in the homemade stuff. At first this bothered me, and I tried to strain it. Straining all the soy milk you make, though, would be an awful lot of work. So I just got used to it. Now, I don't even notice it anymore, so it's not a problem at all.

Now the up side.

1. It's cheap!!! I have not calculated what my price per quart is of homemade soy milk, but it's a heck of a lot less than what I was paying before--at least $3 per half gallon of Silk Light Vanilla.

2. It's satisfying. I've always been a do-it-yourself kind of person, and I strive toward frugality and simplicity in my life as much as I can. When I make soy milk and clean up after myself, instead of thinking "What a hassle," I think "I'm being self-sufficient and saving money!" And it makes me feel good. Plus, there are no preservatives or thickeners or anything at all weird in it--only what you put in.

3. Making soy milk is not an intrusive chore. What I mean is, you can set it up to go and then it makes the soy milk while you are washing the dishes, cooking dinner, etc. Then you can finish it and clean it up as you go, and it doesn't feel like a separate chore--it's just part of getting everything done.

4. You can get creative with it. I haven't experimented much with it yet, but I plan to. A recipe that the machine came with suggested soaking dates in the hot soy milk, then puréeing it together to make a special sweet drink. Or hot, fresh soy milk would be perfect for making fresh tofu, homemade soy cheese, or anything else you got a whim to try.

5. Okara! I'm getting quite a stockpile of this stuff now, and according to Susan V, it has some good nutritional characteristics. I haven't been good about seeking out recipes for okara, but it's on my list of things to do. Any suggestions?

There you have it--my analysis of owning one's own soy milk maker. I find that the benefits are great, and it's just all around pleasing. And it's not too much of a burden, especially when you get used to incorporating it into your routine. If any of you have been considering making a purchase, I hope this helps you make your decision.

I will post some food pics in just a couple of days--and I have some great stuff to show you!



Ruthie said...

Thank you for the post! As I said before, I've been needing to get inspired to make my own soymilk. :) I have the machine, I just get scared off by the clean-up! I think I just need to keep your "positives" in my mind while I'm scrubbing away.

Vivacious Vegan said...

Thank you for posting about this. I like your positive outlook. I think that for now, I'm going to hold off on this purchase just because it seems to require too much pre-planning for me to sucessfully accomplish at this point. I buy my soymilk from Costco and it's only $10.99 per case of 12 quarts which makes it .912 per quart. The taste of it is better than any other soymilk I've ever tasted (Silk included). But, I'm sure this is going to be on the back of my mind for a long time and someday I'll probably give it a go.

Aarwenn said...

I'm with you about the food processor--I HATE cleaning that thing, but it's so necessary, and immediately, too.

Sigh. Worth it for fresh hummus and basil, right? Right.

Vicki said...

Thanks for the pros & cons of making soy milk. I love your statement, "I'm being self-sufficient and saving money! And it makes me feel good." I admire your style, Laura, an I can't wait to see what you've been cookin up! :o)

Twisted Cinderella said...

Thanks for the information! I have never heard of making your own soy milk, but I would definitely consider it!

Candi said...

Oh! I have one of these makers too. I think you analysis is perfect! I feel the same way. I stopped using it because I just can't plan that far ahead lately! Lol! I never quite got used to the taste either. I'm going to give it another go when I have a bigger kitchen though!!

Urban Vegan said...

All in all, it sounds like a good thing. Soy vey.

Carrie™ said...

How cool is that? You make your own milk! You could try chocolate, vanilla, etc. etc. I'm very impressed! The post is great BTW.

laura jesser said...

Ruthie, I have definitely learned that having a positive outlook on anything changes the situation completely!

Crystal, it's great that you are able to buy soy milk so cost-effectively. If I had been able to get it for that kind of price, I would have been less convinced to give the homemade soy milk thing a try. It's working great now, but I think you're right--as the circumstances around us change, we have to decide where to put our time and energy.

Aarwen, ANYTHING would be worth having fresh hummus! :)

Vicki, thanks for your comments! I haven't had much time this week and before I post my stuff, I intend to try to catch up with everyone else I've missed!

Twisted cinderella, I got my soy milk maker from, if you are interested! Thanks for visiting my blog!

Candi, I know what you mean about planning! It's not that hard to do under normal circumstances, but if I am cooking something that needs a lot of milk, or if I am having friends over for lattes or anything like that, sometimes I forget to plan for that and then I have to catch up!

UV, my thoughts exactly! :)

Carrie, thank you for your comments! I had fun going back over the reasons why I am happy with my machine... It was reaffirming. :) Chocolate soy milk is next on my list of things to try. Yum...

Melody said...

I make my own soymilk around 75% of the time... and I think your assessment was right on 100%.. I hate cleaning mine, but if you do it immediately. it's not so bad.. and like you said, if you just do it.. like you do everything else.. it is really simple..

Okara.. I love the stuff. I make burgers from it all the time.. I rarely write anything down when I do stuff.. but I add tomato paste/sauce and oats, garlic, onions and spices to mine. I don't have the proportions.. but if you add it to the hot okara.. it will mix together nicely.. then cool it.. and fry in a cast iron.. (very little oil).. when the mixture is hot, it won't hold together, but as it cools, it will.
The next time I make it, I'll measure and give you the proportions.

I've also added okara to panckaes and baked good with great success..

I've tried to make Tempeh with it several times with NO success, but I haven't given up.. I'm still trying to find the right incubator for that.

laura jesser said...

Melody, thanks for your okara suggestions! I remember your post about your okara burgers, and they look delicious! It would be great to be able to make tempeh, but I'm sure it's tricky... I hope you have success with that soon!

Johanna3 said...

Thanks for the info.!

zandria said...

Great pro/con list! I just recently heard about the soymilk maker, and have been thinking about getting one. :)

Kati said...

I'm glad you posted about this. I've been thinking about getting my own soymilk maker for awhile, so I appreciate your input.

laura jesser said...

Johanna, you're welcome! :)

Zandria and Kati, I hope it helps you make your decision. I had thought about getting mine for awhile too, but it wasn't until I read about Dori ( and her experience with hers that I decided it would probably be a good investment. I know that when you're making a decision like that, it helps to hear from other people what their experience has been! Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I have a soyquick too and I agree with your pros and cons.

Something I do that really helps is soaking a lot of soybeans (and rubbing off their skins all at once), then I freeze them in individual portions. When I'm ready to make soymilk I thaw one baggy in the microwave and I'm ready to go!

kimmykokonut said...

I was intimidated by okara, too--but I can add it to muffins and tea breads (like adding wheat germ) about 1/4 cup per dozen batch, then you can play with it more/less if you like. It keeps really well in the freezer. I've also just tossed it with herbs and pan-fried it until brown and eaten it like that. Good luck with your mountain of okara!

Jan Altus said...

Many thanks for a great article. I currently make my own soy milk using just an old grinder and a plastic sieve and large pan. Clean up, using soap, a steel wool pad and a nylon brush, takes about 2-3 minutes.

I am struggling with whether to buy a soy milk maker or not (I am a gadget addict) and my query is this:

I am disabled (including profound arthritis in hands) and would like to know a bit more about what this "5-7 minutes of cleaning" the soy milk maker involves. That sees quite a long time. What does it entail please?

Tom W said...

I would like to add the thought the by making your own soy milk the amount of thrown away packaging dimensishes 99% and the amount of fuel used to transport the processed milk is also greatly decreased

Elizabeth said...

I purchased my soymilk maker a few years ago and while I do still use it from time to time (especially when I need that tasty okara) but I have a nasty habit of putting my beans out to soak and then totally forgetting about them and then they sprout and make a smelly, awful mess. Then, inevitably I need milk right away and I don't have it becuase I have to soak the beans. Has anyone tried freezing soy milk? Like, what if I spent a Saturday just making 2 or 3 batches and then putting some in teh freezer?

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