I have an intense nostalgia for fresh, homemade soy milk. Growing up in Shanghai, I always woke up to a cup of warm, slightly sweetened soy milk made by my grandma. There was nothing else like it. It was nutty, smooth, and filling, with a taste and smell that you simply cannot get from the soy milks sold in cartons at the big grocery stores in the United States.
Remembering how much I loved it when I was little, as soon as I had my own kitchen, I attempted to make soy milk from scratch. I was successful, but it was such a laborious process that I, a New Yorker now with way too many jobs, simply could not keep up. From soaking the beans, to boiling, to straining, it took an entire day. Thankfully, after I posted about my soy milk endeavor on Facebook, my Chinese relatives living in the states introduced me to Joyoung, a soy milk machine company that is as ubiquitous in China as the KitchenAid is in American kitchens. I could not have put in the order online faster.
When the package arrived three days later, it transformed my mornings. The Joyoung soy milk maker is elegantly designed to fit any modern kitchen counter with two color options: white or brown. It works by blending soybeans with water, then boiling the “soy juice” to cook it through, and lastly straining the pulp to make silky smooth, fresh soy milk. The machine processes either dry or soaked soybeans, which means that you can even skip the traditional soaking process to save some time and effort. Along with regular soy milk, it allows you to make an extra-creamy version that can be used in decadent smoothies and lattes.
Even if soybeans aren’t your thing, the machine comes in handy. As a Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) food therapist, I use it to make medicinal beverages like jujube date soy milk, herbal teas, and multi-grain drinks. You can use it to make whatever non-dairy milk you prefer, and given that a carton of non-dairy milk can cost $7-8, the $400 milk machine quickly pays for itself. It’s good for more than milks, too, capable of grinding coffee beans and squeezing fruits and vegetables just as efficiently as it processes soybeans. Plus, it can cook raw grains, including rice, millet, and oats, turning them into a soft paste, which is also an excellent function for making baby food.
As someone who has a small kitchen and not a lot of leisure time, I am very picky when it comes to adding any kind of appliances to my limited counter space. But after using this soy-milk machine almost every single morning for the past year, I can assure you that it is worthy of a place on your counter. Crucially, along with being a coffee machine, juicer, non-dairy milk machine, rice paste maker, and tea kettle all in one, the Joyoung has self-cleaning and preset functions that make it extremely easy to use.
Joyoung machines are primarily sold among the Chinese immigrant community, making them largely unknown to most Americans. But it’s time that more people knew they could be starting their morning with fresh soy milk, or whichever of the dozens of beverages this machine can offer.
Zoey Gong is a Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) chef, food therapist, registered dietitian, and educator based in Brooklyn, New York.