November 20, 2009

The Beanier, the Better

Each production day at The Beanery, the tofu making team shows up for work in the morning and starts making fresh soymilk. Hodo's soymilk is the basis of everything that we do, including both tofu and yuba. One of the things that we have learned through the years is that the better the soymilk, the better the tofu and yuba.

People often ask why our soymilk tastes so different from what they commonly find at the supermarket. Simply put, it is because we love the natural flavor of the soybean.

Hodo's soymilk is made the traditional Asian way: soybeans are soaked in water, ground, cooked, and the liquid (or soymilk) is strained from the bean pulp. That's it. Nothing else is added. The result is a wonderfully fresh, sweet taste that is, well, "beany". In contrast, most of the soymilk in American supermarkets has been made to taste more like cow's milk. The bean flavor has been neutralized and flavorings are added.

At Hodo, the beanier, the better. Because when we use this soymilk to make our tofu and yuba, the fresh flavor of the bean is one of the reasons that they taste so good.

During production, one of the ways that we guarantee that our products have all of the flavor that we want is by measuring the Brix of our soymilk. The Brix scale measures the percent of solids in a given weight of liquid. The higher the number, the more solids in that liquid. As applied to soymilk, the higher the number, the greater density of soybean in the milk and, therefore, the more natural flavor. Hodo tofu makers love high Brix.

These are photos of our head soymilk maker, Ray Chang, first checking a batch of soymilk and then measuring the Brix with a refractometer. Interestingly, this same device has been used for years in the winemaking industry. Winemakers use the Brix scale to measure the quality of the grapes on the vine and the juice before bottling. We have adapted this same concept; we know that the flavor of our chief ingredient (in our case, soybeans) determines the flavor of what we produce.

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