Making Soymilk and Tofu

Making your own soymilk and tofu are big money savers, plus the results are very much nicer than anything you can buy. Very much nicer. The tofu is so good, I just eat it plain. My daughter also makes tofu, and she also thinks it is good enough to eat plain. I like the homemade soymilk too, and I never found any commercial soymilk I could stand to drink. When I'm making soymilk for drinking purposes (rather than specifically for cooking), I flavor it with just a tiny bit of maple syrup and vanilla.

Cost figures (not including the cost of the soymilk machine itself, see below, and not including electricity used):

1.5 quarts of soymilk - about $0.11 (not a typo - eleven cents)

2 lbs of very superior and delicious tofu - about $.50 (not a typo - fifty cents)

These prices are figured on the basis of buying 50 lbs of soybeans at a time from Fairview Farms (see below). If you can get soybeans locally, the price should be very, very much less.

Back in Medieval Times when I was young and stronger than I am now, I made soymilk and tofu using a blender. The process is described in 'The Book of Tofu' by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi (well worth reading for several reasons). I still have a copy. Lovely book. But the process was a pain in the tail, in my opinion. A lot of hassle.

Now, lovely machines are available that make soymilk automatically. This is the machine I have and I love it:

Mine is the SoyaJoy, not the SoyaPower. It cost me (and still costs) $90 (which includes shipping within the contiguous USA). I think it's an excellent machine, really excellent.

I have been buying Laura soybeans here:

Laura beans are reputed to be the best soybeans for making tofu and soymilk. I don't know if this is true or not; various people have said that they use just regular cheap soybeans and they are fine. I would buy locally grown soybeans, but there aren't any for sale that are grown locally. Buying from Fairview Farms (above) is probably the next best thing - at least I am buying directly from the grower and the beans are *not* GMO.

It takes me about 5 minutes of doing anything to make 1.5 quarts of soymilk. You need to soak the beans overnight or all day first. The 5 minutes is, basically, clean-up time. It takes 15 minutes elapsed time for the machine to do its job, but you can go away and do something else during that time.

Making tofu is more involved, although not excessively so. You need to make four batches of soymilk, then heat them in a big pot, then add solidifier, then scoop out the curds and let them settle in something (the something can be a tofu box, or a cloth-lined colander). I follow the procedure on this page exactly:

The tofu box can also be used in making semi-soft cheese, by the way. (I'll write about making soft and semi-soft cheese someday too.) When I bought the tofu box, the cloth they sent wasn't very generous. I washed an old white pillowcase and added some bleach to the wash water. Then I cut it up and I now have several generous-sized cloths. I wash them with dish towels and dish cloths which always get a little Clorox anyway, so they stay nice and clean.

I use nigari as the solidifier but people concerned that they aren't getting enough calcium can use food-grade calcium sulfate (gypsum). Both solidifiers are available here (which is a convenience, I had to buy nigari elsewhere because SoyaJoy didn't sell it; they've only recently begun to sell it):

I'd like to repeat that the tofu is really very, very superior to any tofu I have ever bought - and I've been buying it for about 35 years in various locations. I think making it is worth my time and effort (besides saving money).

I also know how to make silken tofu, the kind sold by Mori-Nu in little boxes. This posting is too long already, but if anyone wants to know how to make silken tofu, please email me and I'll let you know how to do it. There's a trick to it, and the trick is using the proper solidifier which is extremely difficult to find and buy. But the process is easy and faster than making regular tofu...if you can get the solidifier.

18 November 2006

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