Gather your nut milk bags, kids, if you dare
If you’re avoiding dairy or just not that into cow’s milk, a carton of soy milk (and perhaps two other kinds of nut milk) constantly reside in your fridge. While many a dairy-free home cook is quick to proclaim the merits of homemade almond or hazelnut milk, waving their nut milk bags in the air as they rave, fewer recommend DIY soy milk. Soy milk made at home is not only cheaper than its cartoned counterpart, it’s also the best way to avoid additives and control the soy milk’s sweetness. Perhaps you’ve heard of a gadget called a soy milk maker? Spoiler alert: You don’t actually need one. In fact, you need just soybeans and water for the basic soy milk recipe. Tell me that’s not easier than milking a cow.
DIY soy milk starts at the grocery store, with the purchase of ½ cup white or yellow soybeans, organic if you can find them. Take the soybeans back to your kitchen sink, pour them into a fine mesh sieve or a colander with small holes and rinse well under cold water for about 2 minutes. Pour the soybeans into a large glass jar or bowl and cover with 2-3 cups of cold, filtered water. Place a lid on the container and move it to a cool place in your kitchen. Let the soybeans soak overnight, or at least 12 hours.
Drain the soybeans and pour onto a kitchen towel. Rub the beans with the towel to remove as much of the soybean skin from the soaked beans as you can. Pour the skinned soybeans into a medium saucepan with a few cups of water. Boil the beans until tender, which should take about 45 minutes. Drain the beans into a sieve or colander and let cool. Soy milk can also be cooked after the beans are blended, which can be tougher on the blender, but it must be cooked at some point in order to round out the milk’s flavor.
Pour the cooked soybeans into a blender with 3 ½ cups of filtered water. Blend the beans until smooth—this could take as much as 3 minutes in a standard blender, while a Vitamix or other high-power blender should only take about 1 minute. Pour the mixture through a doubled-up piece of cheesecloth, a kitchen towel, or a nut milk bag if you have one. Gather the edges of the whichever cloth you’re using and wring out the milk from the soybean pulp (also known as okara) into a clean bowl. Don’t throw away the okara! This super-high fiber ingredient can be used to make dairy free ice cream, yogurt, and tofu—but hang on, that’s another story.
To add a bit more flavor to the milk, whisk in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, a pinch of kosher salt, and 2-4 teaspoons maple syrup. Store the milk in the fridge for no more than 1 week—but let’s be real, there’s no chance it’ll last that long.