basics · easy · Recipes · snacks

Soy Milk

Ladle partly submerged in a pot of soy milk, which is ready to be put into the French press for filtering.

Soy milk is a kitchen basic in our household. It’s good for drinking, but it’s also indispensable in the kitchen as an ingredient in many recipes. Soy milk is an excellent dairy substitute in cooking. It’s also a great egg substitute in recipes requiring the binding (though not rising) properties of eggs.

My family enjoys eating Hippo Bread, pancakes, brownies, and other bread- and cake-type foods made with it. Soy milk’s by-product, okara, if cooked thoroughly during the soy milk making process, can be toasted in a dry pan and used as a healthy filler for meatballs, dumplings, and the like.

My son Sprout loves to drink his iced “milk tea,” which consists of home made soy milk, a bit of water, ice, and a shot of Grade A maple syrup. DH drinks it straight cold. I drink it straight hot, warm, and cold.

My current method of producing soy milk results soy milk that is unfailingly respectable and drinkable, but only sometimes do I come up with stellar results. I’m going to continue researching soy milk recipes and experimenting with different techniques till I get this consistently stellar. For now, though, this is how I’ve been making soy milk.

The key is remembering to add 1 quart of water for every half cup of dried soybeans, or 1 part dried soybeans: 8 parts water. For a richer product, use less water.


  • dried soybeans (1 part dried soybeans: 8 parts water)
  • water

Sort beans and remove any stones, debris, and misshapen beans. Add water and wash by agitating water and beans with your hands. Rinse and drain. Cover beans with at least an inch of water and soak till softened, typically 6 to hours to overnight. Rinse and drain.

Add beans to large pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer 5 to 10 minutes.

Add a portion of the beans and water to a blender and blend into a coarse mixture. (Be sure there is enough water to help the blender do its job.) Pour slurry into large pot. Repeat with remaining beans and water.

Bring pot of slurry to a boil, then simmer 20 minutes, stirring now and then.
Soy Milk

In a separate pot, boil water. Add a large non-terry cloth kitchen towel, piece of muslin, or cheesecloth to water. Boil several minutes to disinfect. Remove cloth, drain, and wring out water. Set aside.

Place a large heat-proof bowl on a work surface. Into that bowl, place a metal sieve roughly the size of the bowl. On top of the sieve, place either a non-terry cloth kitchen towel, piece of muslin, or several folded layers of cheese cloth, making sure the cloth hangs well over the edges of the sieve.

Pour slurry onto the cloth. The soymilk will drip through the cloth and sieve and into the bowl. The solid part, the lees or okara, will stray trapped on top of the cloth.
Soy Milk

(Sometimes I extract the soy milk from the slurry using a French press. But this must be done with EXTREME CAUTION, as you can easily break the French press if you’re not careful. Even if you use a French press, you’ll need to resort to the cloth method to extract the last of the soy milk. (Quite honestly, I don’t recommend the French press method, but thought I should add this info since the top photo shows me using the French press.)

When it’s cooled off enough to handle, gather the corners of the cloth, twist the top edges together, and wring out any remaining soy milk.

Consume/use or refrigerate immediately. Use or further cook okara immediately, or refrigerate or freeze immediately. Soymilk and okara keep in the refrigerator for several days.

Scant 4 quarts

Enjoy the soy milk heated, warm, or cold. Enjoy it plain or flavored with a shot of maple syrup, ginger-infused syrup, etc. Or, save it to make Hippo Bread, pancakes, brownies, or something else.

Never leave the kitchen during the cooking process. Boiling soy milk can foam up and boil over before you can say “soy milk” — and that means you’re going to have to clean up the mess. Not good.

Some folks recommend filling the pot to no more than roughly half the capacity of your pot, as the soymilk, if you’re not vigilant, will foam up in an instant like MAD, overflow, and make a huge mess. But I don’t like making so little soymilk at a time, so I fill my pot up with maybe two inches to spare from the top and watch the pot with an eagle eye. It’s probably better to leave at least 30 percent of the pot capacity empty, though I don’t. What can I say? I like to play with fire (and soy milk). 🙂

To conserve heat, you can leave lid slightly askew on the pot, but be careful; mixture can overheat quickly, foam over, and make a mess in the kitchen.

When cooking the soy milk, you’ll notice it goes from a scentless mix, to a “green” beany/raw aroma, and finally arrive at the full-flavored, mellow, sweet, buttery, rich, and slightly nutty aroma. That’s when it’s done.

Grinding the soaked soybeans requires a strong blender. I love my 14-speed Oster Osterizer. The moving part in the base (the part in the base that connects to the bottom of the blender and ultimately turns the blades) is metal, making it sturdy and strong. We purchased it for $24. Our previous blender was much more expensive and considerably weaker. Pricier is not always better.

Wash used cloth, pots, pans, and utensils immediately after using, as the soy bean slurry can be difficult to wash off after it’s been sitting for a while. Also, stuff tends to grow on the cloth if you don’t wash it immediately — yikes.

I have heard great things about electrical soy milk makers. With the considerable amount of soy milk we consume, I wish I could buy such a machine. But as far as I can tell, all soy milk makers involve some kind of internal plastic component that becomes exposed to exceedingly high temperatures, which can leach chemicals from certain plastics into your food. So until someone comes up with a soy milk maker that involves no plastic parts coming into contact with the boiling soy milk, I’m going to stick to my enamel-covered, cast iron pot, metal sieve, and cotton dish towel.

Ingredient Sources
dried soy beans – Laura Soybeans from Fairview Farms in Corwith, IA (top of the line soy beans from a family farm, and outstanding customer service, too!)