Soy Products and Their Uses
These are soybeans harvested when the beans are green and sweet tasting. They are usually located in the frozen section of the supermarket, and are available either in the pod or shelled. They cook quickly and can be eaten cold or warm, but not with the pod. Shelled beans can easily be added to salads, soups, pasta. They could be snacked on the go. One can eat them right out of the pod. Edamame are also a healthy substitute for popcorn and chips.
Soy Beans (Dry Soybeans)
They are a species of legume native to East Asia. They can be found as canned or dry in black and white varieties. Their characteristic beany flavor and the presence of anti-nutritional factors are the main reasons for the non utilization of soybean at domestic level in rural and urban areas. A study conducted on making soybeans completely free from the inhibitor with simple and inexpensive methods of heat treatment which can be adopted at home level revealed that pressure cooking or twelve minutes of roasting at 85 to 90 degrees or boiling the beans for 20 minutes was found sufficient for complete inactivation of the inhibitors.
In recent times soy foods such as soy milk, soy ‘paneer’ or soy cottage cheese, soy cheese, nuggets find a good place in the market. But in India most of them are beyond the reach of common man due to higher prices. In such a case soy flour becomes a common inexpensive variant that can be easily used to prepare traditional recipes, roti blends, biscuits/snacks, germinated soy bread, fermented products, supplementary foods and therapeutic foods.
Soy Nuggets and Granules
Soy is processed to make soy nuggets and granules. These are creamish in color and easy to digest as compared to beans and flour. These just have to be soaked in warm water before use and therefore have a varied application. They could be added to curries, cutlets, parathas, stir fries, pulavs and various other recipes.
Soy nuts are produced when whole soybeans are soaked and then baked until browned. Roasted soy nuts are available in most grocery stores and are great for snacking.
Soybeans, soaked, ground, strained and fermented produce a fluid called soybean milk, which is a good substitute for dairy milk. It is rich in protein and calcium. It can be used in place of cow’s milk for cooking and drinking. One can easily make smoothies, soups, or sauces using it. Soymilk comes in non-refrigerated recyclable boxes found on grocery shelves. Soy milk comes in chocolate, vanilla or plain flavors too. It also can be found in single serving sizes which makes it a great on-the-go snack and needs no refrigeration before opening. Soy milk stands out as it is easy to digest, high on protein and enriched with calcium, vitamin D and B12 which are some of the most essential nutrients for health.
Soy yogurt is made from soymilk. Fermentation improves the nutritive value of the product. Yogurt’s creamy texture makes it an easy substitute for sour cream, cream cheese or dairy yogurt. Soy yogurt is rich in protein, calcium, and is a source of probiotics.
Very similar to cottage cheese, known as soybean curd, tofu is a soft cheese-like food made by curdling fresh hot soymilk with a coagulant. Tofu is a neutral-flavored product and easily absorbs the flavors of other ingredients with which it is cooked. Tofu can be used instead of cottage cheese in any recipe. Tofu is found in water packed tubs in the refrigerated section or on grocery shelves of supermarkets. Silken tofu, which is smooth and creamy, can be used in place of cream in soups, as a substitute for mayonnaise or sour cream in salad dressings and dips. Soft tofu is moist and firmer than silken tofu. It can be substituted for soft cheese. Firm and extra firm tofu will hold its texture and shape and can be used in place of meat in salads, for stir fries, Chinese curries, fajitas etc. Unlike cottage cheese it has a greater amount of protein and nil cholesterol.
Whole soybeans, sometimes mixed with another grain such as rice or millet, are fermented into a rich cake with a smoky or nutty flavor called as Tempeh. Tempeh is sold in vacuum packed rectangular shaped cakes/patties. Tempeh can be used in stir-fries or pasta dishes. It can also be grilled or baked and used for sandwiches and salads. It is a good source of protein, calcium, and probiotics.
It is a smooth paste, made from soybeans and/or grains such as rice or barley, with salt and a mold culture, aged in cedar vats for one to three years. Miso is the main ingredient in the traditional Japanese soup. Miso can be found in many grocery stores and it can be used as a soup base, in salad dressings, and sandwich spreads.