Soy milk is a healthy and delicious milk alternative to cow’s milk. So this is a perfect choice for people with lactose intolerance, and also for vegans who prefer plant-based milk.
Nowadays, every single grocery store carries soy milk, and you may wonder why I bother to make my own. I have two reasons: (1) it is so simple to make your own soy milk, and (2) this soy milk recipe will give you the soy milk flavor that you get in Asian countries and Asian grocery stores.
Technically, you can make homemade soy milk with only two ingredients: soybeans and water. But to get that Asian soy milk flavor, we will need to add sesame seeds and pandan leaves. I also add sugar for sweetened milk, though you are free to omit the sugar completely if you prefer unsweetened soy milk.
The quality of your soy milk depends on the quality of your ingredients, especially the quality of the soybeans. If at all possible, try using non-GMO and organic soybeans for the best result. The soybeans should be uniform in size, yellow in color, and about as big as frozen peas.
You can definitely make passable soy milk with tap water, but for a little bit of extra effort, you can get better and more delicious soy milk if you use filtered water or spring water. You can literally taste the difference if you make two batches of soy milk, one with tap water, and another with filtered/spring water. You won’t be using tap water once you have tried the later.
Making homemade soy milk is a pretty straightforward process, and once you master it, you’ll never want to go back to store-bought soy milk, ever.
1. Soak the soybeans
Wash the soybeans and remove any dirt/impurities and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Cover the beans with water by 2 inches (5 cm), and let the soybeans soak overnight at room temperature.
Once the beans are done, you should notice that they have swelled up. The beans should split easily if you squeeze them. Try splitting a couple of the beans, and if the inside is flat the beans are ready, if the inside is still concave it means the beans need a longer soak.
Soaking time varies from batch to batch, but I usually let my soybeans soak for a full 12 hours.
Drain the soaked beans through a strainer, and reserve the soaking water. Add more water to the reserved soaking water until we have a total of 10 cups.
2. Grind the soybeans
Grind the soybeans and sesame seeds with about 3 cups of reserved soaking water in a blender. Puree until the mixture resembles a milkshake. Pour the blended soybeans mixture into a large soup pot. Rinse out the blender with about 1 cup of reserved water and add it to the pot as well. Add remaining reserved water to the pot as well.
3. Cook the soybeans
Add knotted pandan leaves into the soup pot, and turn on the heat to a medium. Once the soybeans mixture boils, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
When bringing the mixture to a boil, please be vigilant. The first time it reaches a boiling point, the mixture will foam a lot, almost like the frothy foam head of a beer. You will want to quickly reduce the heat and stir until the foam deflates. It can be a pain to clean up if it boils over.
4. Strain the soy milk
The best way to strain the soy milk is if you can place a colander/strainer over another large soup pot. Line the colander/strainer with a piece of muslin cloth, or other suitable pressing cloth. You will want to drape the edges of the cloth over the pot’s rim.
Pour the hot cooked soybeans mixture into the lined colander/strainer. Pause when the milk fills the colander/strainer, and let it strain. Repeat until all the soy milk is strained.
Once it is comfortable enough to handle, gather the cloth and twist to extract all the soy milk. Please be careful and don’t burn your hands.
The remaining soybean pulp is called the lees, or okara. There is no need to discard this since okara is very healthy and can be transformed into more delicious dishes.
5. Cook the strained soy milk
Bring the soy milk to a simmer over medium heat. If you want sweetened soy milk, you will want to add the sugar now. Then reduce the heat and simmer for another 15 minutes, stir to ensure that all the sugar is completely dissolved.
I store my homemade soy milk in sterilized glass bottles. You can serve the milk warm or chilled. Store any leftover soy milk in the fridge, and they should be fresh for up to 1 week at the minimum.
If your soy milk doesn’t stay fresh for at least 1 week, either your bottles are not sterilized, or you are using a less than great quality soybeans. Using good quality soybeans not only ensure a great tasting milk, it will also ensure your soy milk stays fresh for so much longer.
The leftover soybeans pulp from making homemade soy milk is called soybeans lees or okara. You can make delicious dishes out of okara, so don’t throw them away. You can try some of these okara recipes: