Yesterday I went to a chinese supermarket and bought a bag of dried, white and unprocessed soy beans because I wanted to make my own soy milk.
I took about 100 grams of them and let them soak in water for about 20-22 hours.
Then I put them into a blender with around 400ml of water. The result was a creamy and thick liquid (maybe a bit too much water) with some tiny chunks of beans. I was a bit disappointed because at this point the mixture smelled really nasty kind of toxic to me but I kept going.
I put this mixture into a kitchen towel and strained it to get the raw soy milk.
Afterwards I cooked the raw soy milk for around 10-20 minutes (didn't really measure the time) on low heat. At the beginning it nearly overcook because of all the foam, just like all the recipes mention.
The result was a yellowish, watery liquid.

The result still smelled quite bad, just like I mentioned above. Not as strong as the paste I got after mixing the whole beans but still a weakened version of this "toxic" smell.
Yet I tried a tiny portion of the cooked milk and beside the fact that I might have used too much water it still didn't really taste like soy milk from the supermarket, not even close.
I know that the milk from the supermarket contains some sweeteners and other additional ingredient but really, I wouldn't be able to recognize mine as soy milk if I would blindly taste it.

Is there anything I could have done wrong?
Is the smell I mentioned just normal?
Any further suggestions?

  • 1
    I believe that the ground up soy slurry is typically boiled before being strained (and not the other way around as you did it). I don't know what difference that would have made though.
    – brhans
    May 9, 2018 at 17:02
  • 2
    @brhans- You are describing the difference between Japanese and Chinese methods of preparation of soy milk. It is done both ways. May 9, 2018 at 17:22
  • thanks for your comments, learning never stops :) Do you have any experience making soy milk and can describe the smell? Is it rather neutral or good-smelling or like I described above?
    – TorbenJ
    May 9, 2018 at 18:54
  • Uncooked soy milk is mildly scented. The scent matches the flavor, fresh, slightly sweet, nutty, and grassy before it is cooked. It starts smelling more sour and loses the fresh nutty notes after a few days. May 28, 2018 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


I make my own soymilk regularly. The method I use is from Yoshiko Takeuchi's book Cooking with Soy.

She explains that traditional Chinese soymilk is made by grinding the beans with cold water, while the Japanese method involves heating the beans to reduce the strong bean flavour. "Western" style soymilk, she says, is made using a process that includes dehulling the beans and soaking them in an enzyme-deactivator. So, I don't think you will be able to get the familiar, more neutral taste of commercially-produced soymilk at home with basic equipment.

I use the soymilk I make for cooking and making tofu (though I'm still working on getting that right), but I don't usually use it, for example, in hot drinks, as the bean flavour is too strong.

If I use organic soybeans, I find the flavour is better and I can use the soymilk in more things without finding the flavour too strong.

The smell is mild at all stages. I certainly wouldn't describe it as toxic! The raw mixture has a fresh, sweetish, slightly grassy smell as mentioned by Sobachatina. It's very similar, I think, to the mild but quite distinctive smell of split black gram (sweeter) or green gram (more earthy) that has been soaked for an hour or more. After cooking and straining the smell is like that of tofu.

The method I use is this:

  1. Wash 100g soybeans in hot water
  2. Soak for 20 hours (in the fridge if climate is hot) in plenty of water
  3. Grind the beans very well with water to cover (in a blender - rinse the blender right away, otherwise washing it will be a pain)
  4. Transfer the mixture to a large pan and add 300-500ml extra water
  5. Bring the mixture to the boil over a medium-high heat, stirring constantly (or it will stick really badly). Skim all the foam off and discard.
  6. When it boils turn the heat down (or it will boil over very fast) and continue to cook on a low heat, stirring constantly, for 10-15 minutes, skimming foam if there is any.
  7. Transfer to a sieve or colander lined with a cheesecloth (please don't use paper towels!) sitting over a large bowl or jug (easier to pour the milk out of) and allow to cool (meanwhile rinse the pan immediately as with the blender!).
  8. Squeeze the cheesecloth to get out as much soymilk as possible. (The solid remnant is okara which tastes of very little but has a good, soft and crumbly texture, and some nutritional value - useful for some recipes.)
  • 2
    +1, I have read that the milk had to be cooked either way to reduce toxins and the off-putting grassiness. I thought it was just whether the beans were cooked before or after being ground/pressed. May 28, 2018 at 18:04
  • 1
    thanks for your detailed description. in the meantime i did further experiments and noticed that if i take 50g beans per 1l of water the taste gets way better and the strong smell i described is nearly gone. the smell now is more like the one you described so i guess everything is fine :)
    – TorbenJ
    May 30, 2018 at 6:11
  • I liked this answer because the method given also produces cooked okara. (I've heard that okara should never be eaten raw and pan-frying it is not enough.) Aug 15, 2020 at 21:33
  • Hey @Zanna, does 3-500ml extra water mean "somewhere between 300ml and 500ml" ? Aug 15, 2020 at 21:36

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