The Glos-soy-ry

Soy many terms! Let's make it a bit easier


Since there are so many products and soy terms out there that you might be unfamiliar with, I’ve included a Glos-soy-ry of terms to help explain some questions that might arise, such as the difference between “dried” and “green” soybeans.


Dried Soybeans

This is the most versatile, most widely available form of soybean. Dried soybeans can be stored at room temperature, and are simple to cook.


*Be careful when cooking dried soybeans because nutritional value can be destroyed if overcooked.


Green soybeans

Green soybeans are not widely available, and are not as versatile as the more mature dried bean. Canned green soybeans are available in some stores. Fresh green soybeans are a delicious cooked vegetable that can be eaten alone or can be added to other dishes.



Lecithin is a by-product of soybean oil, and is present in all natural soy products. Lecithin helps to break up fats and holds them in suspension. Lecithin may be purchased in granule or liquid form. Granular lecithin may be sprinkled on foods, while liquid lecithin is excellent for use in cooking. It also makes a non-greasy, non-stick coating for baking pans.



Miso is a seasoning paste made from a fermentation of soybeans, salt, and water. It is available in health food stores, Japanese markets, and some supermarkets. Miso soup is a staple in the Japanese diet. It is traditionally stored at room temperature.

Miso soup photo courtesy of mroach

Soy granules

Soy granules are also called soy grits. Granules are toasted nuggets of soybeans from which most of the oil has been extracted by pressure or by chemical solvents. They may be used to replace noodles or rice in soups, to make an excellent garnish for salads, and may be added to cereals.


Soybean oil

Soybean oil contains large amounts of linoleic acid, one of the essential fatty acids. Crude soy oil also has lecithin in it. Dry soybeans and full-fat soy powder contain this valuable oil in significant amounts. Crude soybean oil is not used in cooking because it foams, but blends of vegetable oil suitable for cooking are available in stores.


Soy milk

Soy milk is made from the emulsion of oil, water and protein. It is made by soaking dry soybeans and grinding them with water. Soy milk contains about the same protein as cow milk. The coagulated protein from soy milk can be made into Tofu.

 Soy milk photo with soybeans courtesy of mc559.

Soy Sauce

Japanese soy sauce is called “shoyu.” It is a seasoning liquid made from a fermented mixture of soybeans, salt, and wheat. It differs from Chinese soy sauce, which is not made with wheat.

Collection of soy sauce in store courtesy of Simon Law


Tofu is a bland, easily digestible “cheese” made from a coagulation of soy milk. There are many variations of tofu available today.

 Tofu man photo courtesy of Ari Moore


Yogurt is formed by the action of bacteria (see Lactobacillus bulgaricus) at controlled temperatures. Both soy milk and cow’s milk may be used to make yogurt.



Now that you understand soy terms, click here to see where the soybean came from.



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