A few weeks ago during some down time in the Admissions Office Emi announced, as it is the only true way to describe any flow of words from her mouth, that she was going to make soy milk.
“You want in on it?” she tossed over her shoulder while doing some background research on different types of soybeans.
A little background on my love affair with soy milk. My affinity for it started out back in the middle of fifth form (eleventh grade) when I was diagnosed with a skin condition that prevented me from consuming milk. Can I just say, this was devastating to me. I was the kid who’d drink a litre of milk at every meal and a glass in between. As far as I was concerned this was one of the most inconvenient occurrences of my year.
In any case, since there was no way I was living without the stuff a suitable substitute had to be found. The easiest solution was milk powder. In Jamaica the largest manufacturer of milk powder, LASCO, uses a soy protein isolate. So when the going got tough and my consumption made mixing the milk inconvenient, even in large batches, my mother decided to try out this ‘soy milk’ in its liquid form. I’ve been hooked ever since and moved through many different brands so when Emi excitedly extended an invitation to make my own, there was only one appropriate answer – ‘hell yeah.’
We pooled together with another housemate of ours, Crystal B, and 4 days later 35 glorious pounds of the magic beans were delivered to Bennington. Emi took to it right away and put a bowlful of the dry beans to soak; bless her soul. They doubled in size overnight and we transferred half the beans to a different bowl out of necessity. Fast forward a couple of hours and we have ourselves two bowls of soaking beans, chilling in the refrigerator.
The tools for this particular task included a food processor, a couple jars, one t-shirt (old but clean), pots for boiling and common sense. We washed the beans, got rid of their outer coating and got to work. Emi had tried running a few beans through the food processor and hadn’t gotten ideal results so we decided to boil some of them before processing this time around. The boiled beans seemed even less effective; for whatever reason it’s best to put them through uncooked and refrigerated.
The seeds we had had been sitting out for a couple days and a few had started to germinate but I don’t think this affected the process significantly (fingers crossed on this since by this point I’ve had a significant amount of the milk). We ran them through the food processor twice, the beans once and then the pulp from the beans one more time for good measure. What we got was a very thick, sticky gloop that was off-white in color and potent in smell. After we had ‘juiced’ all the beans we had approximately 4 cups of the stuff.
After transferring it all to a pot, we started with adding about 3 cups of water and set it to boil on high heat. Around 15 minutes later we separated it into smaller portions in three different pots and added more water (roughly a cup each). We had a few different sweeteners on hand so we decided to flavour each differently. We added a tablespoon of salt to each and experimented with different combinations. In the end we had a vanilla, nutmeg batch sweetened with organic sweetener, a cinnamon and vanilla pot sweetened with honey and an almond and nutmeg batch sweetened with regular granulated sugar. After we seasoned to taste we left it to boil and prepared the jars.
We used strips of the t-shirt (our directions called for cheesecloth but the t-shirt worked just fine, if slightly less efficiently) which were cut large enough to cover the mouth of the jars with a two inch dip and have some lag length to hold on to. While the results of the process thus far were still hot we strained it into the jars. A few minutes of scalded fingers later we had our soy milk which we let cool and put into the fridge for chilling.
As a first time run it was a pretty messy ordeal on our part and took about 2 hours from start to finish. We used the okara, which was the by-product after we ran it through the food processor, to make pancakes and cupcakes the next day. We ended up with approximately 2½ litres of milk in all. The milk could have been more diluted. Still, it was nice to have, what I like to consider, thick, creamy soy milk. We’ll see how it turns out the next time around but I’d say we got great results from our first run.
Post written by Shirley, Janiele O. 12′