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Thanks to its properties, this drink has paved the way for new eating styles. And to a large variety of products. It is rich in proteins and unsaturated fats, low in saturated fats and free of cholesterol, as well as lactose, which many have difficulty digesting, and has a slightly lower nutritional power than cow’s milk: it is “milk” of soy, a typical food of Eastern countries which, for all these reasons, has now become part of our eating habits.
Since its arrival to western countries, many things have changed and soy “milk” and other vegetable drinks are no more chosen exclusively by those who have problems with dairy products or by those who practice a strictly vegetarian diet, but by those who generally look for a balanced diet. The same goes for the resulting products, such as “yogurt”, desserts, or the alternative to spreadable cheeses, all created to meet an increasingly varied nutritional demand.
History of soy milk
Soy “milk” was born in China many centuries ago, where the cultivation of this legume has a tradition of almost three millennium. From there it first spread to the rest of the East and then arrived in the West. Its real success, however, originated about forty years ago, with the development of a culture attentive to plant nutrition and also thanks to the addition of aromas that make it more pleasant on the palate. And, above all, with the birth of industrial production techniques that guarantee an aseptic environment: these have made it possible to produce it in large quantities and distribute it everywhere, whereas previously it was made at home or sold in small shops and drugstores.
How to make soy milk
High temperature, high pressure and water are the elements involved in cooking soybeans, which serves to make them digestible.
The cooked seeds are subjected, with the addition of water, to a first coarse grinding and then further reduced to powder. The result is a white and warm paste that includes tiny insoluble parts.
To remove these parts, a large centrifuge is used. The fibers that collect outside the basket and are removed are called okara. They are not thrown away: they will be processed for other uses.
The liquid is conveyed into a large tank and mixed in the proportions provided for by the recipe with the other ingredients, such as sugar, vitamins and vanilla, coming from other smaller tanks.
Thanks to the action of high temperature and high pressure, under vacuum, the “milk” is sterilized. Then a high-pressure pump breaks down the fat particles, so they don’t separate from the rest of the drink.
The “milk” travels without coming into contact with the air, which could carry germs and bacteria. It is cooled to room temperature before being stored in aseptic silos.
Also this phase takes place in a strictly aseptic atmosphere, without contact with the air, preserving the food safety of the finished product.
Other uses for soy
Seeds: Soybeans can be consumed, after cooking them, like all legumes.
Drinks: The drink commonly called “milk” is also used for cooking; there are also alternatives to cream and béchamel sauce.
Burger: thanks to its protein content, soy is suitable as a substitute for meat.
Desserts: and cheeses from soy “milk”, processed, you get desserts, alternatives to yogurt and cheese.
Oil: it can be used as a condiment, like all other vegetable oils.
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