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When making soy milk, what is the best way to separate the okara (fibrous material) from the hot liquid?

My observations:

  1. When pouring through any kind of a screen, the screen becomes clogged almost immediately, and the material removed from the screen still contains a lot of liquid.
  2. Cheesecloth works well to remove the remaining liquid, except that it is a difficult and awkward procedure because the liquid is so hot.

Does anyone have a "secret weapon" for this process? Some thoughts that have occurred to me (but which I haven't actually tried) include:

  1. Using a large French press (of the type ordinarily used to brew coffee)
  2. Sending the thick liquid through a Juiceman-type fruit juicer (because juicers seem to do a good job of drying out and ejecting pulp)
  3. Using a smaller version of the centrifuges used in soy milk factories (but where to buy such a thing?)
  4. Simply waiting for the liquid to cool before attempting to separate it (time-consuming, but definitely would simplify the cheesecloth approach)

What is the best way?

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2 Answers 2

When straining things that clog up the screen, I tend to use a spoon or spatula to move the stuff around, so you can get expose un-obstructed parts of the screen.

Of course, you might end up pushing some of the pulp through the process, but it's generally minimal.

You can then either dump out the pulp as you go (possibly into muslin or cheese cloth, let it cool, then give that part a squeeze), or use the back of a large spoon or a rubber scraper to push the pulp against the strainer to get out some extra liquid. (or use an oven mitt, covered in a plastic bag ... it's messy, but it works).

Of course, if you have a cheap strainer, too much force on it can cause the whole screen to pop out, splashing you and making a quite large mess. (I've since made sure that my strainers weren't basically a screen just held in by pressure to a loop of metal that attached to the handle, but are actually one integral part).

...

If you're looking at buying new equipment, I'd look into getting a chinoise with the proper sized stick (not sure what it's called), which you can use to basically compress all of the pulp into the bottom as you're working.

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Nice. I do not have a chinoise, but it does look like a perfect tool for straining hot soy milk. –  Miles Erickson Nov 2 '10 at 0:49

I have done this in a few different ways and Cheesecloth works the best for me.

The only difference between you and me is I separate the okara (fibrous material) when it's cold. I usually separate the okara as soon as I get the mixture out of blender. I then boil the liquid (soy milk) afterward, so it's pretty simple.

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I like this idea of blending first and then boiling. I had been using a Joyoung soy milk maker, but maybe it would be easier to use the blender and stove instead. –  Miles Erickson Nov 2 '10 at 0:42
    
This is what I do as well. –  Sobachatina Jun 27 '12 at 1:33

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