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Tempeh: How to Make it, Use it, and Love it!

tempeh

Image Source: VeganBaking.net/Flickr

I love  tempeh.  It’s probably my favorite out of all the vegetarian meat alternatives due to its versatility and texture.  Originating from Indonesia, tempeh is a soy product that is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake-like form, not too different from a veggie burger patty.  Tempeh’s fermentation process and its retention of the whole soybean give it a higher content of dietary fiber, vitamins, and protein, and it has a firm texture and earthy flavor that becomes more pronounced as it ages.  Tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine for its nutritional qualities.  Read ahead and find out how you can make some delicious tempeh for yourself, and then check out some yummy recipes that use it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups hulled soy beans
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 3/4 tbsp Tempeh Starter

Preparation:

  1. Boil the soybeans for one hour to cook.
  2. Drain the water and thoroughly dry the soybeans in any manner you see fit.  It is important that the soybeans be as dry as possible, as too much moisture can ruin the batch.  Try patting them dry with a towel or having them sit in the pot over low heat to let the water evaporate.
  3. Place beans in a dry bowl and allow them to cool down to room temperature, or around the same temperature as your skin.
  4. Add vinegar and mix well.
  5. Add the Tempeh Starter and mix well enough to evenly distribute it in the beans.
  6. Place the beans in two vented containers, or plastic bags with needle-sized holes poked through.  About this time, the beans should be 1 – 1.5 inches thick.
  7. Incubate the beans at 88°F (or 31°C) for 24-48 hours.  Check after 12 hours, as oftentimes the beans will have developed their own heat source, so it would be pertinent to decrease or even eliminate the external heat source.  Be sure to use a thermometer.
  8. After about 24 hours, the white mycelium will start to cover the surface of the beans.  Over the next few hours, it will grow through the beans and give off a slight nutty smell.

Tips

  • It’s not unusual for there to be a learning curve when making tempeh.  If your first batch doesn’t turn out very well, don’t fret.  Give it another shot!
  • If you wish to freeze your batch, first steam it over boiling water for 20 minutes, then cut into patties and soak overnight in salt water (2 tsp salt to one pint water).  The patties can then be pattied dry and frozen.

Incubation Methods

  • Large cube-shaped dehydrator (such as Excalibur or TSM Dehydrator.)
  • Oven with a low temperature setting or even just the oven light (check the temperature first as ovens can vary in heat.)
  • Cabinet with a low-level heat source such as a high-wattage bulb.
  • Low-level mat such as those sold to maintain sprout seedlings.  Keep in mind that this will keep the tempeh about 10° above the ambient temperature so it would still require a warm room to be kept in.  These are not the same as commercial heating pads which are usually far too warm for this purpose.
  • Styrofoam or plastic “cooler” with warm bottles to maintain heat.
  • Incubate outside if living in a warmer climate.
  • A warm part of your home during the summer months.

 Here are 5 Tempeh Recipes to get you started:

1. Tempeh in Spicy Onion Curry

tempeh do pyaaza

2. “Tempeh” Tuna Salad

Recipe: Tempeh "Tuna" Salad

3. Gingery Maple Glazed Tempeh on Baby Greens Salad

Gingery Maple Glazed Tempeh

 4. Tempeh Picatta

Tempeh Picatta

5. Pomegranate Sweet and Sour Tempeh

Recipe and Wine Pairing: Pomegranate Sweet and Sour Tempeh

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One comment on “Tempeh: How to Make it, Use it, and Love it!”

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Soymoon
9 Months Ago

I need to comment on your instructions for making tempeh. Your process seems good, but your culture is incorrect. You need Rhizopus culture to make tempeh. The Caldwell's starter is for culturing vegetables. I don't think this will give you good tempeh!


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