Cooking with Soyfoods


There is plenty of ongoing research to illustrate the wide variety of nutritional benefits that adding more soy to your daily diet can have, but many people are intimidated by not knowing how to prepare soyfoods.

Because they don’t have strong flavors, soyfoods are the perfect addition to almost any recipe or meal. They are delicious and can easily be substituted for less nutritious foods in your recipes. Our best advice is to swop soyfoods into your recipes and just experiment and enjoy.

For those of you that want a little more guidance we have put together some tips and ideas for cooking with the following soyfoods.

Soy Flour

Kept in an airtight container, defatted and low-fat soy flour will stay fresh for up to one year. Full-fat soy flour will keep for up to one year in an airtight container in the freezer. Stir soy flour before measuring to avoid flour packing. Watch baked goods closely for over-browning. Baking products in a lower temperature oven (less 25° F) may prevent browning.

Full-fat and low-fat soy flours work best in sweet, rich, baked goods like cookies, soft yeast breads and quick breads. In these recipes, soy flour will substitute well for ten to 30 percent of the wheat or rye flour. Recipes specifically developed to use soy flour may replace more than 30 percent of other flours with soy. Replacing more than 40 percent of other flours with soy flour is not recommended because soy-rich dough browns faster. Since soy flour is gluten-free, it cannot replace all the wheat or rye flour in yeast raised bread. Soyfood cookbooks, soy flour packages, and company web sites supply tasty recipes.

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Fresh tofu is great baked, broiled, barbecued, grilled, fried, boiled, or steamed — flavored to your liking, of course. Flavored ready-to-eat tofu in the refrigerated section saves time! Freezing marinated tofu enhances the flavors, thus making it an excellent addition to chili, pot pies and lasagna. Many companies offer simple, creative Tofu recipes on their website or packages.

Handle packaged tofu as you would any perishable dairy product and check the label for a ‘Use By’ date. Freeze tofu no more than 6 months. Japanese-type silken tofu may be aseptically packaged, allowing it to remain shelf-stable up to nine months without refrigeration. Once opened, it should be refrigerated and used within five to seven days. Tofu packaged in water should be kept refrigerated until used. Once opened, any unused tofu can be stored in the refrigerator covered in water. Change the water at least every other day. Tofu will last a week, but discard any tofu that exceeds the expiration date on the package.

Tofu not used within a week can be frozen. Drain all water and wrap the tofu in plastic, foil or freezer wrap and store in the freezer for up to five months. Frozen tofu becomes chewy, spongy, and beige-colored.

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Because it is a fermented product, miso will add a cheese-like flavor to many of the foods it is added to. Recipes using miso usually require only one to two tablespoons. Boiling or prolonged heat will destroy the live microorganisms and the wonderful aroma of miso. For hot dishes such as soups, always add miso at the end of cooking. Also, blending miso with a small amount of liquid before adding it to a dish assures that it dissolves completely with a smooth creamy consistency. Store miso tightly sealed in the refrigerator, where it will keep for several months. It is not advisable to freeze miso.

Akamiso, which means “red miso,” is a specific rice miso. Because of its robust flavor it works best in stir-fries, marinades and simmered dishes that contain strong-flavored fish, poultry, meat or vegetables.

Shiromiso, a “white miso,” is another type of rice miso. It is less salty than akamiso and is much sweeter. It is especially good in sauces, dressings and marinades for mild-flavored fish, shellfish, and vegetables.

Hatcho miso is considered the miso of Emperors. Strictly a pure soybean paste, it is savory-tart and mildly sweet.

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Tempeh must be cooked, unless it is pre-cooked and ready-to-use when purchased. Just about any cooking method will work. This includes moist heat methods such as poaching, simmering, boiling or steaming. Dry heat methods work well also: tempeh may be baked, broiled, grilled, sauteed, and pan or deep-fried. To microwave, combine 8 ounces of tempeh with 3 tablespoons of water in a covered glass casserole dish and heat on high for five minutes.

Packaged tempeh will keep well for up to 4 to 6 months if kept frozen. Once thawed, tempeh will keep about 10 days in the refrigerator. When buying tempeh from a refrigerated case, make sure it has a “sell by” date.

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Whole Soybeans

When cooking dry soybeans, pick over beans, rinse and drain, then soak before cooking. One cup (1/2 pound) of dry soybeans will expand to equal about 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups cooked. Fresh soybeans will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator and several months in the freezer.

Whole soybeans need to be pre-soaked. For a long soak, use 3 cups of water for each cup of beans. Soak 8 hours or overnight at room temperature. Long soak method produces beans with smooth skins. For shorter soaks, use 3 cups of water for each cup of beans and bring water to a boil in a large pan for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and allow the beans to stand for 1 hour.

Put drained and rinsed soaked beans in a large pot, using 3 cups of fresh water for each cup of beans. Bring water to boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook beans for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Do not add salt or acidic ingredients such as tomatoes or molasses to beans until just before they are almost entirely cooked, as salt and acids harden the beans skins.

If a pressure cooker is used, place pre-soaked (8-12 hours soaked), drained and rinsed beans in a pressure cooker. Add 4 cups of water plus 2 tablespoons of cooking oil for the first cup of beans, 3 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil for each additional cup of beans (oil controls foaming). Do not fill the cooker above the halfway mark! Cook with fifteen pounds of pressure for 9 to 12 minutes. Quick release pressure by placing cooker under cold running water. Drain immediately.

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Soy Meat Alternatives

Having soy meat alternatives in the pantry or freezer is the perfect way to solve the “What’s for Dinner?” quandary. Fast preparation is why shoppers love these items. There is rarely thawing or pre-browning cooking steps. Most go from package to pan or can be prepared quickly with only the addition of water. Soy meat alternatives can be used in the same way as the foods they replace. Refrigerated soy meat alternatives will keep for 3-4 days while freezer storage varies from 9 to 18 months depending on the product.

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All soymilk should be handled like any perishable dairy product. Follow “use by” dates on packages. Shelf-stable aseptic soymilk has a 12-month shelf life. Once it is opened it must also be refrigerated. It will stay fresh for 5 to 7 days. A vigorous shake before pouring helps disperse the ingredients evenly throughout the liquid.

Soymilk works in any recipe. For sauces, gravies, soups and other savory dishes, plain, un-sweetened works best.

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Soy Dairy Free Products

All soy dairy-free products should be handled like any perishable dairy product. Follow “use by” dates on packages.

Soy sour cream works best in dips, toppings and garnishes. It does not hold up well in cooking on the stove top, but can work as an ingredient in baked goods. Soy cream cheese works well in all types of recipes, including cooking and baking.

Soy cheeses have different melting characteristics. Those containing casein, a milk protein, melt better and stretch to make a more “cheesy” product. For vegan choices, soy cheese made without casein is available. Soy cheese doesn’t contain lactose, a milk sugar.

Cultured soymilk, or soy yogurt, is a great alternative to dairy-based yogurt and offers the same cooking options and techniques. It is great in sauces, dressings and especially blended into a smoothie.

Expect to do some culinary experimenting if converting recipes to use soy cheese. Recipes from soy cheese companies or soyfood cookbooks may be your best bet.

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Soy Nut Butter

Soy nut butter is a direct substitute for peanut and other nut butters, and it can be stored in the refrigerator or cabinet in an airtight container. Follow the product ‘Use By’ date to ensure freshness.

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Soy Protein Isolate

Soy protein isolate beverage powder is an easy way to incorporate soy protein into the diet. Kept sealed and dry, the powder is shelf-stable for many months. Look for ‘Use By’ dates on the container.

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Textured Soy Protein

One cup boiling or hot water, broth or stock poured over 1 cup of small granules will reconstitute in five to ten minutes. For larger chunks or slices, use 2 cups of liquid to 1 cup of chunks/slices and simmer for 20-30 minutes until tender, but not mushy. Textured Soy Protein (TSP) granules or flakes can be rehydrated in a microwave, by covering the moistened granules and cooking on high for about five minutes.

A pound of TSP will equal about three pounds of ground beef. One cup dry TSP reconstituted in one cup liquid yields about two cups. Unflavored textured soy protein easily assumes the flavor of other liquids and foods. It combines well with ground meat or poultry, or can be used alone in favorite recipes.

Unflavored textured soy protein will last indefinitely if stored in a dry, airtight container. Stored the same way, flavored TSP will last at least one year. Both can be available for use at any time. Once rehydrated with liquid, TSP should be refrigerated or frozen until used. Refrigeration preserves the reconstituted TSP for only a few days and freezing preserves it for 3 to 6 months.

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