When people tell me they don’t like soy milk, I’m always mystified. What’s not to like? Besides the fact that soy milk is rich in protein, calcium, and iron, the dairy-free breakfast beverage is also just flat-out delicious. But I’ve since realized that those who are anti-soy milk are almost always referring to the kind you buy from grocery stores. With a gummy texture from all the added preservatives, store-bought soy milk is indeed a bit gross, and only resembles milk in the loosest of definitions. The vanilla and chocolate flavored soy milks are made a bit more tolerable only because the copious amounts of sugar masks what little flavor actually exists.
If only more people knew about the magic of soy milk makers, which allow you to experience the joys of fresh soy milk, made right in your own kitchen. I remember when I was little, I would wake up to the clicks, whirs, and beeps coming from our soy milk machine, and I’d know that my mom would have a delicious pitcher of piping hot soy milk waiting for me in the kitchen, usually accompanied by a platter of Chinese donuts (you tiao) for dipping.
Fresh soy milk is not gummy at all. The texture is actually akin to that of regular milk—creamy, but thin enough to be drinkable. The nutty flavor of the soybean is also allowed to shine uninhibited by any additives or unwanted sugar. That’s another great thing about making your own soy milk: you can adjust the sweetness exactly to your liking, using any kind of sweetener (honey, brown sugar, etc.) you prefer. I always like adding a tiny nub of rock sugar to dissolve in my soy milk.
Soy milk makers are available to buy online, and sometimes you can even find one at your local Asian supermarket or in Chinatown. Although the initial cost seems pricey (makers can run from $50 to $200), it really does pay for itself over time if you buy alternative milk regularly. My favorite brand is the SoyaJoy, which comes with a measuring cup, pitcher, sieve, and recipe booklet.
They are extremely easy to use. All you have to do is add soybeans and water, press a button, and then 20 minutes later, you can start enjoying soy milk the way it was meant to be enjoyed. And for those of us who tend not to plan for breakfast the night before, there’s even an option to use unsoaked beans (although soaking the beans overnight is always preferable). The leftover soy pulp (okara), rich in fiber, can even be added to your favorite muffin or polenta recipe, making this whole process a zero-waste endeavor.
If you’re not impressed yet, you should know that soy milk makers can make other kinds of milk, too. Almond milk, walnut milk, rice milk—basically any kind of bean, nut, or grain milk you desire can be made in this magical appliance. You can mix and match ingredients to fit your taste preferences and dietary needs.
Sure, there are other, more complicated breakfast machines. But my soy milk maker is the only one I couldn’t live without. And neither should you.