The lactose intolerant, or those who avoid animal products on ethical grounds, can consume one of the many plant-based alternatives to dairy milk. One of the most widely available is soy milk, which is made by grinding whole soybeans and steeping them in water. At home, it's simpler to make soy milk from already-processed soy flour. Whole-fat soy flour produces a beverage similar to whole milk, while defatted soy flour produces the equivalent of fat-free milk. Defatted soy flour is sometimes sold as "soy milk powder," which positions it as a convenience product similar to instant powdered milk.
Measure out a cup of defatted soy flour. Add it to 4 cups of cold water and mix them thoroughly. Use an immersion-style "stick" blender or a conventional blender.
Refrigerate the mixture immediately. Let it infuse for at least 4 hours before drinking, so the water can fully extract soluble solids from the soy flour.
Pour the soy milk though a colander or mesh strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth, taking care to disturb it as little as possible while you pour. Leave behind the bottom half-inch of soy milk, which will contain much of the sediment. This step is optional, but it helps minimize the "chalky" texture that mars homemade soy milk.
- To prepare a more concentrated soy milk for baking or cooking, use only 3 cups of water to 1 cup of defatted soy flour.
- Making soy milk from full-fat soy flour, which is sometimes better for baking, requires a slightly different process. The fats in the flour don't dissolve well in cold water, so the soy and water mixture must be simmered for 20 minutes before chilling and straining. Use 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of soy flour.
- Many consumers find soy milk more palatable if it's lightly sweetened or flavored with a hint of vanilla.
- Soy flour can be stored in the pantry at room temperature, but soy milk is as perishable as dairy milk once it's mixed. Refrigerate it immediately, and keep it in the refrigerator when it's not in use.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared on numerous home and garden sites including GoneOutdoors, TheNest and eHow.