This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
This - the Soja hispida - has been under culture in American gardens ever since Commodore Perry's memorable expedition to Japan. But no one seems to have known the use of it, and so it soon disappears, as, in the usual way of cooking it, any ordinary bean is better. Among Mr. Dreer's Japan collection at the State Fair we noted that it again appeared, and we are moved to give the following from the Gardener's Chronicle, as showing how to use it:
"The greatest use to which the plant is put in China and Japan is in the preparation of soy and of various kinds of food from the ripe seeds. The manufacture of shoyu, or soy, is thus described in a descriptive catalogue of agricultural products of Japan, exhibited at the late Sydney International Exhibition. Equal parts of beans and wheat are used; a small part of the wheat is mixed with koji, which is an alcoholic preparation from rice, and allowed to ferment; the remainder is roasted, and the beans are also roasted. The roasted beans and wheat are then mixed together with the fermenting wheat, placed in shallow wooden boxes, and kept for some days at a fixed temperature in a warm chamber with thick walls, until the whole mass is covered with fungus. It is very important that the temperature of this chamber should be kept at the proper point. By these processes part of the starch of the wheat is converted into dextrine and sugar, and lactic acid and acetic acid are formed. It is then mixed with salt lye. The mashings are removed to large vats, and kept there for at least twenty months, but more often for three or five years, the better qualities being those that are kept for the longer periods.
The best soy is produced by mixing that kept for five years with that kept for three years. After it has been kept a sufficiently long time, it is strained through thick cotton bags, and the residue submitted to pressure. Before filtering, honey is sometimes added. The residue, after pressing, is again mixed with salt and water, and again pressed, the yield being soy of an inferior kind. Sometimes water is added to this second residue, and it is again pressed. The residue first obtained is occasionally used as food, and the last residue as manure. (See Gardeners' Chronicle, vol. xiii., new series, pp. 178, 209, 242.) Shoyu, or soy, is a very important condiment; it is mixed with a great many kinds of food, and is produced and consumed in very large quantities. Regarding the use of the soy bean as a vegetable in Japan, the writer of the foregoing remarks on soy says: ' It is the vegetable which approaches nearest in chemical composition to animal food (meat), containing, as it does, one-fifth of its weight of fat. and often two-fifths of nitrogenous matter.
It is an extremely valuable adjunct to the food of a people who subsist so largely on a purely vegetable diet, of which the bulk is rice, so rich in heat producers - starch, and poor in flesh formers - albuminoids.' "