Since May 2018 we’ve been slow travelling with our car. Without wanting to sound either too pretentious or too first worldy, I wanted to share with you how we’ve started making our soy milk & tofu. It doesn’t take too long, it is way cheaper than buying it from a shop, there’s no waste and we have full control over the ingredients list. If you’re interested, read on.
What Will You Need To Make Soy Milk
If you want to make soy milk the old-fashioned way you’ll need a saucepan and a blender, dirty fingers, a cheese bag and a ton of patience. You could follow these written instructions from Just Hungryor watch this video from Mary’s Test Kitchen if you’re interested in making it by boiling the soy beans yourself.
If you want to make soy milk inside 15 minutes and with no mess you’re best using a milk maker. We use the Tribest SoyaBella Milk Maker. It looks a little like a kettle and has an inbuilt blender.
What Will It Take To Be Cost Neutral?
We estimate that per week we buy approximately 5 litres of soy milk. Soy milk in the UK costs roughly £1 per litre although it increases in price the more rural the location. £5 a week equates to £260 per year.
The first time we made Soy Milk with our Tribest we were staying at my parents house where they have smart meters attached to their appliances which gave us a precise cost. To make a litre of soy milk using the Tribest, cost us:
- 1 litre water = 1p
- electricity = 3p
- organic soy beans = 18p
We made our first batch of milk for 22p – not including the price of the Tribest Milk Maker.
If we consume 5 litres per week, it should cost approximately £1.10 per week or £57.20 per year. We predict in 12 months, it will cost us £187.15, including the price of the Tribest.
In order to be entirely cost neutral it will take 37 weeks and 3 days. The machine comes with a two-year guarantee! This does NOT include the figures for making our own tofu and we estimate that we spend £6 on tofu per week. If we continue to make our own milk AND tofu, we will be cost neutral in 17 weeks. For us this is a win-win situation and we don’t have to be worried about travelling to areas where vegan food is limited.
How Does The Machine Work?
You need to soak roughly 70g of soy beans (which by the way were produced in East Anglia) in water for four hours before milking them. I cheat and soak ours in boiling water for an hour before using them. The soy beans then sit inside a metal container which is twisted onto a head unit which incorporates the blades. Once filling the machine with a litre of water, the water is heated and the beans ground to a paste.
It takes roughly 15-20 minutes to produce piping hot soy milk. What I love is that there are separate containers for making rice milk and you can make any type of nut milk as well as use it to grind seeds and coffee. I don’t think I’ll be using mine as a grinder but oat milk (don’t soak the oats first) is very easy to make.
What To Do With The Left Over Paste (Okara)
Once ground, the beans turn into a white paste that is akin to mashed potato. It’s called Okara and is part of the traditional cuisines of Japan, Korea and China. It must be used within two to three days of being kept in the fridge.
We have made okara chocolate brownies (we substituted brown sugar for xylitol & brown rice syrup), hummus, unohanna, vegan meat balls using jackfruit & okara, mixed with veggie burgers, apple cake and there are a ton of recipes on Messy Vegan Cook’s website. A whole slew of okara recipes can also be found at The Okara Project (not all of these recipes are vegan) but a personal favourite of ours is okara falafel.
Just remember okara can be quite bland! It needs extra seasoning or sweetener but is great as a cake ingredient.
What Will You Need To Make Tofu?
If you’re looking to make tofu you’ll need a saucepan, a wooden spoon, maybe a thermometer, a sieve/colander, a cloth and something heavy to compress the tofu with. Alternatively you could cheat, like us, and buy a Tofu Press.
How To Make Tofu
I could spend the next ten minutes writing a list of instructions or you could watch this amazingly simple, 3 minute video from Mary at Mary’s Test Kitchen.
What Coagulant To Use?
So far, we’ve only used lemon juice, however the Japanese traditionally use a product called Nigari (magnesium chloride – a sea-salt derivative) however I’ve seen recipes that use Epsom salts, vinegar, calcium sulfate (gypsum) and old tofu water – which I’ll describe below.
What To Do With The Left Over Soya Whey?
In order to make tofu the soy milk needs to separate into curds and whey. The left over whey is highly nutritious and adds a flavor punch to dishes! Here’s how you can use it:
- Some of the leftover tofu whey (water) can be used as a soured coagulant for the next batch of tofu. I have read that it makes wonderful aromatic tofu and has a much more fibrous texture when frozen. Put the left over whey in airtight container for 10-14 days until the surface starts to froth. It must be airtight and it takes a higher volume than other coagulants.
- Use the whey to knead dough for breads and flat breads.
- Use it to cook your lentils/beans/peas in.
- If you don’t mind the taste, you could also temper it with a little cumin and curry leaves and drink it up! This is exactly how the Indians use paneer whey.
- According to this video by Maangchi, left over whey was used in Korea to make a popular stew, called Biji Jjigae. This video includes fish which you could omit for vegetable stock and pork for tofu. She blitzes soy beans for her sauce but instead the older recipes used the whey juice.
- Add it to smoothies and shakes as it’s a great source of protein.
- Use it as a milk replacement when baking.
- Soup stocks, pasta sauces, curry liquid…
- Add it to vital wheat gluten when making seitan.
I Hate Plastic So Why Did I Choose A Plastic Tofu Mold?
Initially I saw a wooden (bamboo) tofu mold and thought this would be perfect but further research told me no. Any wood would be entirely soaked in soya whey and some even used screws to apply pressure. Generally sodden wood turns mouldy and wet metal screws turn rusty. These are definitely not elements that I want in my tofu!
The other option was a stainless steel press but I really liked the simplicity of the Tofuture mold. It seems plastic does have a use!
How Much Room Does It All Take Up?
Ah, well space! If we didn’t slow travel, we could probably not take it with us anywhere. Let’s be honest, if you’re backpacking you’re hardly likely to take these with you! We now have a large car with a roof-box and have just bought a trailer too.
I’d like to say we travel minimally but with five of us, Bear the Malamute, three kittens and all the stuff we insist on hoarding around with us, we no longer travel lightly!! Nope, gone are the days I could fit my belongings into half a backpack lol.
Both come in boxes and I’m loathed not to use the box for the milk maker. So the two boxes are roughly:
- 25 x 30 x 20cm. I would never transport the milk maker without its box.
- 18 x 15 x 9 cm. The soy press doesn’t have to be kept in its box but whilst it’s in transit, I think there’s less chance of it becoming damaged.
Interested In Soy Milk & Tofu Products?
We bought both of these from Amazon and as we’re Prime members, they were both delivered the following day. I also bought a Nut Milk Bag which I do use but unless you want a super smooth soy milk, it isn’t necessary. If you want to make oat & nut milks though, I’d definitely recommend straining the milk using a bag. I also bought a cheese cloth to squeeze out the tofu. I tried it without the cheese cloth but it wasn’t solid and was quick to fall apart.
Just In Case You Need Convincing Here’s Five Reasons Why We Love Ours
- They’re actually both very simple to use and require minimal time. You just simply fill the kettle with water, add the soy beans to the pot and turn it on. To make tofu, you let the milk cool to 71*c, add in the lemon juice, drain the curds & whey and then press it. I think the entire process takes about 30 minutes.
- We have full control over all of the ingredients and all we need are soy beans, water and lemon.
- The cost! Even using organic soy beans, the cost is just 22p a litre.
- There’s no waste and everything gets used. The okara becomes both a sweet & savoury filler and the whey is used for stocks, soups, sauces and even water for bread.
- In order to get these both to work, they require minimal knowledge. I read the instruction book for the milk maker and for the tofu press, I watched a video and then read Tofuture’s Guide on How To Make Your Own Tofu.
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Making soy milk and tofu whilst slow travelling is quite easy, doesn’t take up too much space and will ultimately become cost neutral in under seventeen weeks. It’s definitely been worth while for us and I hope it can be for you too.