What to do with okara from soy milk maker?
I just got a soy milk maker, and love the fresh soymilk, but am not sure what to do with the leftover pulp (okara). I've poked around the web a bit, and most of the recipes I am finding call for dried okara, but it seems to me that is an extra unnecessary step - can't I just use it fresh from the machine? Does anybody know how long it will keep in the fridge? Can I freeze it?
Yes, you can freeze okara. It freezes very well. But eventually you'll have to do some serious cooking or baking to it -- at least 25 minutes, preferably closer to 40 or 45.
The reason for this is that self-protective enzymes in the soy plant (the ones that have strong antibiotic properties and are somewhat toxic to animals that want to eat it) are even more concentrated in the okara once you remove the "milk". In fact, the antifungal and pest resistant properties in okara are so strong it's often used in making the stuff with which they treat wood for outdoor structures like decking. So you need to break those down with heat or strong acid, which also tenderizes it and make it more digestible.
That's why people buy the dried, because the factory will have steamed it before drying it, and you can just use it, as is, in short-cooktime things like cookies and veggie burgers, without worrying about it.
Fresh okara is great as an egg replacer in vegan baked goods that can take some moisture (like breads and cakes). 1 tablespoon of raw/ wet okara + 2 tablespoons water or vegan milk + 1 teaspoon oil = 1 egg. I also like to spread it on a cookie sheet, sprinkled with a little cinnamon and raw sugar, and bake it for adding to granola. And, in traditional Japanese pickle-making, they often use fresh okara as part of the pickling process (putting the antifungal and other enzymatic properties to use, instead of cooking them off), but then the okara is tossed after the pickles are made.
It's also a great fertilizer if you have nitrogen-poor soil. Much better than the petroleum-derived nitrogen they sell at big garden centers. It repels bugs, too!
When you say the okara needs to be cooked for at least 25 minutes, does the cooking time in the soy milk maker count? It gets pretty hot, and the whole process in the soy milk maker takes about 25-30 minutes. I'm asking because I made crackers last night from the fresh okara, and they were great, but they only bake for about 15 minutes.
We have so far cooked twice with the okara, once in veggie burgers that didn't turn out very good, but could probably be improved with a few tweaks, and last night I made crackers, which turned out great! The crackers were very easy, and tasted somewhat like Wheat Thins. We also dried about three batches of okara, and I'm going to figure out how to incorporate that into the bread we make 2-3 times a week.
In case anybody is curious about the crackers, I just started with the fresh okara from two batches of soy milk from the machine, added a couple tablespoons of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then added a combination of bread flour and whole wheat flour (stone ground) until I had a consistency like that for pizza dough. I then rolled the dough out thin on a flat baking pan (lightly oiled with olive oil), cut that into squares, sprinkled them with some sea salt, and baked for about 15 minutes at 375. I probably could have rolled them a little thinner, which might have decreased the cooking time. Next time I'm going to try different spices on top - it seems like the possibilities for flavoring them are endless.
I got the basic recipe for the crackers, along with some helpful hints, here:
The idea for the crackers came from several sites that mention okara crackers, but either didn't have a recipe, or had a recipe that seemed complicated.
By the way, using two batches of okara produced twice as much dough as I could use at one time on one baking sheet, so the rest is currently in the fridge, and I will make it tonight. That is all to say that a single batch of okara will make about one pan of crackers. I use somewhere between 3/4 cup and 1 cup of dried soybeans for making one batch of soy milk.