Okara: the Lagniappe of Homemade Soy Milk

I made this page for this recipe, I first posted it on blog as article January 9, 2017

After years of buying store bought soy milk I decided to make my own when I realized how easy it is to make at home. I started making my own soy milk at home last year after I got serious about cooking plant based cuisine. I use soy milk and coconut milk in baking, for smoothies, ice cream, and for many other cooking uses.  I especially like the idea that I can buy non-GMO, organic soy beans and make fresh soy milk without the preservatives, thickeners, or flavorings that are in store bought milk, plus the cost is a fraction of store bought. I buy soybeans by the pound in the Bulk Goods Section at Ever’man Food Cooperative  where I am a member. The okara is the byproduct of the soy milk making process, it is the lagniappe of homemade soy milk. For those who don’t know what lagniappe means it’s a term I learned growing up in Louisiana, it means something given as an extra bonus or gift. Sometimes I just want to make soy milk in order to get the okara! Okara is a wonderful healthful high fiber food that can be used in everything from a bean burger to a moist sweet cake dessert. I will share some recipes that I make with okara in another post soon to come. If I’m not going to use the okara within a day or two, I freeze it. My two fur babies Zoie and Terra are absolutely crazy for the okara; they always seem to know I’ve made it, I guess they know the smell, they will run into the kitchen and sniff around, then sit and look at me patiently waiting for me to give them some. I too like to eat it fresh from the straining bag, it’s a taste I can’t describe. It’s a very mild taste. It accepts any seasoning; I guess that’s why it is a good addition to savory and sweet dishes alike.

[update on sharing recipes: 7-23-17] check out recipe – Savory Okara Oat Flat Bread 

Below are pictures of the process I go through to make soy milk and okara.

I start the night before by washing 1 cup of soy beans very well. If you haven’t washed dried soybeans before, you will be surprised that they foam like they have soap on them! All beans sort of foam but soybeans are very foamy. As I wash the beans, I pick out any beans that look bad. I wash very well, then rinse well, and then place washed beans in a stainless steel or enamel ware pot and put at least 6 cups of water, cover and let soak all night. The next morning dump the beans and water into a colander and rinse well again. The beans will have absorbed water and doubled or tripled in size. You will have about 3 cups of soy beans now, and that is enough to make 48 oz of soy milk. If you want a richer thicker milk don’t add as much water. You can taste it and decide for yourself if you want to add more water. Soy beans have to be cooked for a minimum of 20 minutes in order to inactivate an enzyme that is bad for digestion. Cooking the beans also eliminates the “beany” flavor.

After cooking the beans for 20 minutes then either let set until room temperature or drain into a colander and rinse well. No matter which method just be sure you dump away that cooking water and rinse beans very well before using the beans. Then place about 1 cup in blender and add spring water as you will see in pictures below.

getting ready to grind the soaked soybeans in spring water

grinding the soaked soybeans in spring water

grinding the soaked soybeans in spring water

Getting the pan, stand, and straining bag ready

Getting the pan, stand, and straining bag ready – I made this bag by sewing it from 100% cotton, unbleached  cotton muslin with a drawstring channel at top of bag which I made the draw string from t-shirt yarn.

 

making soymilk pouring the ground soy beans and spring water into the straining bag, straining out the okara

making soymilk pouring the ground soy beans and spring water into the straining bag, straining out the okara

making soymilk pouring the ground soy beans and spring water into the straining bag, straining out the okara

making soymilk pouring the ground soy beans and spring water into the straining bag, straining out the okara

making soymilk, the ground soy beans and spring water straining out the okara

making soymilk, the ground soy beans and spring water straining out the okara

straining bag containing the soy okara

straining bag containing the soy okara – I use a steamer insert to help me press the bag while I squeeze the milk from the okara – some call it milking the bean bag

straining bag containing the soy okara and the pan of soymilk

straining bag containing the soy okara on left in bowl, and the pan of soy milk on right

Heat the soy milk on stove over medium-high heat until it starts to boil, then remove from heat, cover and cool for about an hour before pouring into a jar and refrigerating.

Heat the soy milk on stove over medium-high heat until it starts to boil, then remove from heat, cover and cool for about an hour before pouring into a jar and refrigerating.

straining bag containing the soy okara

straining bag containing the soy okara

Okara

Okara

The homemade soy milk keeps for 3 to 5 days in refrigerator. Mine doesn’t last that long because I use it in most everything I cook.

I want to answer what many have asked about the characterization of beans producing gas, many ask if soy milk develops gas in the tummy. No soy milk doesn’t give you gas.

One more tip for bean lovers who enjoy eating dried bean but who have problems with tummy gas. When cooking dried beans to eat it is best to soak the beans overnight, (soaking beans actually increases nutrition and make more digestible*) rinse next morning and be sure to use fresh water to cook your beans; then you shouldn’t have a problem with flatulence. If you find that you still have a tiny bit of gas production, then go one step farther and when cooking in fresh water, after 20 minutes of lightly simmering the beans, drain, rinse and fill with cold fresh water and then finish cooking the beans, adding seasonings and any fat after beans are almost done. I use olive oil for fat in my savory bean dishes.

*Phytic Acid and Enzyme Inhibitors in beans inhibit digestion but rinsing and soaking and rinsing again help reduce of the Phytic Acid and Enzyme Inhibitors so that makes more nutrients available and digestible.  

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325021/