Yield: 1 servings

Measure Ingredient

2 cups washed soybeans, preferably a large, low oil variety such as Vintons (Pinetree Seeds), but any will do. 6 quarts boiling water Cover beans with water and let soak for a few hours--until the beans, when split, have flat surfaces and break easily. The will have a pale color throughout--if there are sunken yellow spots, soak them longer.

This is one of the most important steps! Do not undersoak the beans, and do not let them ferment (Bubbles rising to the top) or the results will not be as good.

Drain the beans. Bring 6 quart of water to a boil in one pan or kettle, and another 16 quarts to boil in a large deep pan. Turn off heat. Blend one cup of beans with 1½ cups boiling water from the smaller pan until well blended. The resulting mix will look kind of like wet cream of wheat. Continue to blend the beans 1 cup at a time and add the mix to the water in the large pan. Stir.

Now you need a "tofu bag." Old flour sacks work very well. So do 2 non terrycloth kitchen towels sewn together into a sack. A large piece of cloth will suffice. Do not use cheesecloth--you need a tighter weave--something that the point of a straight pin can go through without piercing a thread, but no looser...

Line a large colander with the sack (moistened with water) or the cloth, and place it on a rack over yet another large pan. (Canners work great.) Pour the stuff from the large pan into the sack and drain, pressing it to squeeze out all of the soymilk.

You now have soymilk and okara (the stuff in the bag). Set the okara aside or freeze it for later.

Put the soymilk back on the stove and over med-low heat bring it to a simmer. This takes awhile, but you don't want to burn it. If you religiously stir it you can heat it up faster. It will cling to the pan, and skim over on top just like milk does. Bring it to a simmering boil and boil for 7 minutes. If it gets a good "skim" on the top, remove it in one piece with a chopstick. This is called "Yuba" and is used in the Orient as a meat substitute. Fried up in a little butter or oil it tastes like chicken skin...

While the soymilk cooks, make up the coagulant: 2 teaspoons epsom salts in 1 cup warm water, or 2 tablespoons of nigari (and if you know of a source for it tell me!) in 1 cup warm water, or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in 1 cup warm water... Take the soymilk off the heat and sprinkle about ½ the coagulant solution gently over the soymilk. Cut through--do not stir--the soymilk to distribute the coagulant. Let stand for a few minutes. The curds should begin to form. Sprinkle ½ the remaining coagulant in the same manner.

Repeat as needed (you may need to mix up more solution) until you have white curds in pale yellow whey--no creaminess left. Now you need a pressing box (a 6"x8" wooden box with holes on each surface, and a removable top and bottom, or a colander will do ). Place the box on a rack over a large pan, and line it with a moistened cloth.

Drain off as much whey as you can from the curds without disturbing them too much. Then gently ladle the curds into the pressing box.

Cover the tofu (that's what you've got in the box!) with the cloth, put a board or plate on top and weight it down with a 3-5 pound weight for 20 minutes. Submerge the cloth wrapped tofu in cool water, remove the cloth. Store tofu in water in the refrigerator, changing water daily, or freeze it for an interesting texture change. It takes awhile, but you will end up with a couple of pounds of the best tofu you ever ate, a gallon or more of okara, and a couple gallons of whey--all for the cost of 2 cups of soybeans! Whey, btw, is great stuff. It's good for your skin, gentle enough to wash babies in (natural detergent+lecithin), makes a good liquid for bread baking, is a natural wood polish, and wonderful fertilizer. If you're still with me, I'd suggest you go out and buy "The Book of Tofu," some beans, and get cookin! I've got my tofu and okara made. I'm gonna make soysage right now--dontcha wish you were here? FROM: Cissy Bowman

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