Soy flour is made from ground, dehulled (that is, with the outer coating removed) soy beans. That’s the basic explanation.
But like many flours, there is a real variety in how the beans are milled, and what parts of the raw soybean are included.
These differences will affect the taste, the fat content, the nutritional content, as well as how the flour behaves in cooking.
What’s good about it?
Quite apart from being a great grain and gluten free flour alternative, soy flour is an extremely versatile ingredient that has a huge number of uses.
It is used in gluten and gluten free cooking alike to improve flavor and to add a wonderful moist quality to baked goods. It can also reduce the amount of fat absorbed when used in fried foods.
In addition it has binding properties, so it can reduce the need for other binding ingredients in baking, such as eggs. It can also slow the rate at which baked goods go stale. A bit like a natural preservative.
So unlike many grain and gluten free flours, flour made from soybeans can be added to give a lovely soft texture to your baking. It’s usually the opposite, where the more gluten free flour you add, the less of that bread-like texture you get. Bonus.
Look on the ingredients label of many commercial products, and you’ll realize that soy flour is extremely common. At home, you can use it in your grain and gluten free cooking to thicken sauces, to provide the base to burgers, to add texture and flavor to your baking and, of course, keep that gluten and those grains out of your diet.
Three useful tips to help you on your way....
1. Always stir the flour before measuring into a recipe. Soy flour can pack down as it sits in its container.
2. Reduce your oven temperature. Or at least, watch closely as your recipe bakes. Baked goods containing soy can brown quicker.
3. Enjoy the natural nutty flavor? Stir it in a moderately heated skillet for a few minutes before adding to your recipe to enhance the flavor.
Flour made from soybeans is protein rich. It is a complete protein, which means it contains all the essential amino acids needed by the human body. The proportion of protein in full fat soy flour is approximately 40%, and it increases as the fat content of the flour decreases. It is also a great source of dietry fibre, vitamin B, iron, calcium and potassium.
In particular, it is known as one of the best sources of isoflavones. These are naturally occurring plant chemicals. They are classed as phytoestrogens, which are compounds that act like estrogen in the human body (but to a much lesser extent than the real thing).
Isoflavones are best associated with their cancer fighting qualities. Research suggests that isoflavones prevent free radical damange to DNA and have properties similar to antioxidants.
The exact values of these nutrients vary depending on how the flour has been processed, and whether the flour is completely defatted, low fat or full fat. The protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals increase as the fat content decreases.
The different types
Full fat soy flour contains all the natural oils from the soy bean itself.
Low fat contains approximately 1/4 - 1/3 of the oil of the full fat variety.
The defatted flour contains no more than 1% oil.
There is also a lecithinated variety. This flour has had extra soy lecithin added into it. Soy lecithin is a group of fatty substances extracted from the soybean. It acts as an emulsifier.
The different varieties and brands vary immensely. If you don't like the taste of one, try another.
Where to find it
Soy flour is, as a general rule, more widely available than other grain and gluten free flours. If you can’t find it in the flour section of your supermarket, try health food stores, Asian grocery stores and specialty delicatessens.
Full and low fat soy flour should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The low fat variety will last for up to a year in the fridge. For the same period, keep the full fat variety in the freezer. The defatted variety can be stored at room temperature for up to a year.
Interested in trying some soy recipes? Click here to try this moist chocolate cake recipe, dish up breakfast with banana pancakes or fill your lunch box with our grain and gluten free bread recipes.
Return to Grain and Gluten Free Flours from Soy Flour