After living in Beijing for nearly three years, I came to understand the importance of soybeans in food storage. The Chinese people first record use of soybeans in 2383 B.C. They used soybeans as nearly their sole source of protein, where we in the states provide protein in our diets by storing meat, milk, eggs, and cheese.
The Nutritional Benefits of Soybeans
The US Food and Drug Administration food composition tables list the soybean as 40%-complete protein (unlike other legumes which are incomplete proteins), 20% soybean oil, and over 35% carbohydrates.
The soybean contains 23 times the vitamin B1 (thiamine) found in meat, and twice as much protein as beef (per gram). Soybeans do not contain the cholesterol found in animal protein or the gluten found in grains. Highly water soluble, soy carbohydrates such as galactan, pentosan, and raffinose encourage probiotic Lactobacillus bifidus bacterial activity and discourage harmful bacteria.
When you make textured soy protein or flour from soybeans, the protein increases to 50%, and the flour is substantially higher in vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), biotin (10 times), riboflavin (9 times), pantothenic acid (15 times), calcium (20 times), iron (10 times), niacin (5 times), and choline than typical wheat flour. The soybean is also a good source of the anti-ulcer Vitamin U (gastrazyme) and cholesterol-reducing lecithin. When soybeans are sprouted they provide 130 micrograms of vitamin C per gram.
So how do you use stored soybeans?
Make Your Own Soy Milk
To make soy milk for one person for one year takes approximately 50 pounds of soy beans plus a $119.88, 1.7 liter, Soyajoy G4 Soy Milk Maker and Soup Maker. The G4 has a powerful grinder and built in heater necessary to make soy milk, almond milk, or rice milk. Using 1-1/2 cups of organic soy beans will yield about a gallon of soy milk.
The G4 comes with all of the equipment you need to make soy milk, but I also use coffee filters to strain my milk twice for a smoother texture. The milk tastes far better when chilled overnight.
To look at a simple comparison of the costs, consider the following:
- Soy Dream Enriched Vanilla Soymilk, 32 Ounce Aseptic Boxes (Pack of 12) by Imagine Foods from Amazon.com with a one year shelf life will cost about $55.81 per 3 gallons of soy milk plus shipping or about $18.60 per gallon. One gallon per week times 52 weeks ends up costing a person about $967.00 a year.
- 52 pounds of canned dried soybeans (roughly 10 cans) from Emergency Essentials with a 30 year shelf life will cost $119.50 plus shipping (only $12.00).
- Compare that with milk sold in your local grocery store at about $3.50 per gallon with a week-long shelf life, at $182.00 per year.
- Soy milk can be sweetened with just a quarter cup of sugar, fructose, agave syrup, honey, or corn syrup per gallon if desired. It can also be flavored with 2 tablespoons per gallon of Dutch baking chocolate or vanilla extract.
- The American Soybean Association has indicated soy milk can also be used in an emergency as a replacement for infant formula based on studies conducted in China after WWI and in Germany after WWII.
- The leftover ground soybeans from the production of soy milk can be used as fertilizer, soy-burgers, or as animal feed, further reducing food costs.
- According to staff at Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, there is a one to one conversion between soy flour and wheat flour used for baking.
Make Your Own Tofu from Soybeans
The next way to use your soybeans is by making soybean curd (tofu). It is made from soymilk brought to a boil with an added agent that causes the protein to separate from the milk. The most common agents used include magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium sulfate (also known as Epsom salt), calcium sulfate (gypsum), vinegar (acetic acid), and citric acid. If you purchase a Soyajoy Premium Total Tofu Kit from Amazon.com the kit will come with the traditional wooden press box, two types of agents, and instructions. Varying the amount of agent and the time pressed will determine the firmness of your soybean curd.
Last, soybeans can be easily sprouted. Place clean soy beans in a stackable sprouter or quart mason jar. Soybeans will expand to about six times their original size. Soak the seeds overnight in a ratio of 4 parts warm water to 1 part beans. In the morning, rinse and drain the beans. If using a mason jar attach a sprouting lid or seal it with cheese cloth and a rubber band and then flip the jar over. Store slightly tilted over a dish rack to allow excess moisture to drain. Wash beans 3 to 4 times a day in cool water. This removes all unwanted bacteria from the surface of the shoots. Harvest the sprouts when 2” in length, just prior to the emergence of rootlets. The sprouts can be cooked, canned, stored in the refrigerator for three days, or frozen for later use.
Delicious Recipes Using Soybeans
2 cups soybean pulp (which is left over from making soy milk)
1-3/4 cups gluten or gluten made from King Arthur never-bleached flour
1 cup peanut butter
6 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons ground sage
4 teaspoons salt
First, if you are unable to find powdered gluten, you can make it from King Arthur never-bleached flour. Mix two cups of flour with enough water to form a stiff dough. Let sit for ½ hour, then, begin washing away the starch by kneading the dough in a bowl under water. Replace the water several times until the water becomes clear when kneading the dough. Make enough gluten to use 1-3/4 cups of gluten in the recipe.
Next, place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until uniformly mixed. Roll in log and slice into rounds or use as a loaf. Cook slices in a frying pan or loaf in a 350o F oven until done. After you master the basic soy-burger, you can add ground carrots, squash, or different flavorings to your burger.
1 cup of milk
2 tablespoons sugar (or fructose, agave, or honey)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 cake fresh yeast or equivalent
1 cup water
¼ cup lukewarm water
1-1/2 cups soy flour
4-1/2 cups unbleached flour
To prepare, begin by adding yeast cake to ¼ cup lukewarm water. Then, scald the milk. Add sweetener, salt, oil and 1 cup of water to the milk. Allow the milk mixture to cool to room temperature. In a mixing bowl, sift two flours together. Add the milk mixture and yeast gradually mixing until a ball of dough is formed. Knead dough on lightly floured board until surface becomes shinny. Shape into ball and allow to rise in warm draftless location 1-3/4 hours. Punch down and form 2 loaves; let rise again about 2 hours or until doubled. For a great result, bake at 375oF for 20 minutes and finish at 350o F for another 25 minutes. Brush with oil and let cool. I usually make four loaves at a time and freeze two for later use mixing one batch at a time but baking them together.
Soybean Brown Rice Loaf
2 cups cooked soybeans, coarsely chopped
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 beaten eggs
2 tablespoons ketchup or catsup
3 tablespoons minced onions
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon salt
In a food processor, pulse together ingredients in order of ingredients provided. Bake in greased bread loaf pan at 350o F 25-35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
2 cups soybean milk
¼ cup sugar (fructose, agave or honey)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs well beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla
In a double boiler, combine milk, sweetener, and salt. When warm add beaten eggs and continue to cook until mixture coats spoon. Cool and transfer to dessert dishes. Chill before serving.
Egg Foo Yung
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons diced green pepper
1 tablespoon diced red pepper
¼ cup minced red onion
2 cups cooked bean sprouts, drained
1 tablespoon soybean oil to fry each cake
In mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add all other ingredients except oil. In a large skillet, drop ½ cup portions of mixture and fry in oil until browned on each side (about 5-6 minutes). This dish is traditionally served with brown rice and a dash of soy sauce.
Warning: According to my interview with the American Soybean Association, raw, un-sprouted soybeans—including the immature green form—are toxic to humans, dogs, cats, pigs, and chickens. Un-sprouted soybeans must be cooked with water to denature the trypsin inhibitors that are toxic to most mammals.
Regional Disaster Services Instructor
American Red Cross
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Author interview with the American Soybean Association
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