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!