Soy beans have become all the rage in recent years in the health food circle and for good reason. These little beans are packed with proteins and nutrients and are very diverse. From soups to milk, the soy bean functions as far more than just a mere bean. Some even use soy as a meat replacement, preparing soy burgers rather than hamburgers. Learning how to cook these tiny marvels can give you a new independence on the culinary front and help you take charge of your diet and health for the better.
Preparing Soy Beans to cook
Like all beans, the soy bean will require certain preparation steps prior to being cooked. Cleaning and sorting is a must, lest you find yourself with a pot of beans full of dirt and pebbly, uncooked rejects. Pick out any deformed or underdeveloped beans to discard and wash the remaining good beans thoroughly. Then it’s hurry up and wait. You’ll need to cover the soy beans with water and allow to soak overnight, but no less than 8 hours for proper rehydration.
If you are growing your own soy beans, or are able to find them fresh rather than dried, it is possible to skip soaking. Still, it is important to clean and sort your beans, even if they did come straight from your own garden. You will, however, need to shell the soybeans if you are to cook them. Simply soak them in boiling water for about 3 minutes or so then drain and rinse with cold water. Removing the beans from the pod is as easy as breaking the pod and squeezing the beans out, leaving you with ready to cook soy beans.
Cooking soy beans
Once your soy beans have gone through the preparatory stages, cooking them is simple, albeit time consuming. If you soaked your soybeans, you may use the soaking water to cook if you like, although some people would rather use fresh water. This is totally your preference as it will not affect the final product either way. Bring the beans to a boil, adding one teaspoon of salt to one cup of beans.
As the beans come to a boil, you will notice hulls and froth coming to the surface. Skim these off and reduce the beans to a simmer. Cover the pot and allow the beans to simmer for 2-3 hours until firm but tender. Check the soybeans about every half hour to see if they need more water or if you need to skim the surface again. When the beans are done, remove them from the heat and allow them to rest to allow any remaining hulls to surface. Remove what appears at the top and your beans are ready for use.
Storing cooked soy beans
You may use your cooked soy beans immediately if you wish. There are many recipes that allow you to use soy beans in ways you never imagined. Visit Soy Foods: Recipes for a few ideas. Drain the beans well before using them, but consider saving the cooking water for use in soups as a base stock.
If you do not intend to use the beans right away, they can be either refrigerated or frozen. To store soy beans in the refrigerator, keep them in the water and put them in an airtight container. You will need to use them within a few days or they may spoil. If you have prepared a large volume of beans for later use, drain the beans and place them in freezer bags or containers and they should keep for several months in the freezer for you to use at your convenience.