Hi Friends, After several years of making my own tempeh, I have been able to improve the process into a much less laborious one with equally satisfying result. First thing is to get good quality organic and non-gmo soybeans.
Good quality soy beans not only means it is much better for your body but it also cooks better and tastes more creamy. I am starting with 2 cups of soybeans that I have soaked overnight or for at least eight hours.
Once soaked drain all the water. You may keep this water for the plants. This water is not good for us but it’s a good source of nutrients for the plants. This is better used for outdoor plants rather than indoor ones as the liquid might smell after a day or so.
One thing that I do differently now is that I do not dehull the beans. When I first started to make tempeh, I used to dehull the beans by hand by massaging them into the water until the hulls would float up.
Then pour them out and keep doing this until most of the beans are dehulled. But this is very time consuming and as it turns out, a rather unnecessary process as I’ve made successful tempeh even without dehulling the beans.
So now, I just rinse off the beans a couple of times with fresh water and place them in a large pot. Then fill the pot with fresh water to cover the beans so that the water level comes to about an inch above them.
Cover and cook on medium heat. The reason why I also no longer dehull the beans is that I have noticed that they take a whole lot longer to boil. Whereas when the hulls are left on, the beans become much softer and creamier.
Keep an eye on the pot and if the water starts to boil over, place the lid at a slight angle to let more of the steam escape. Then lower the heat. Once the excess steam has gone down, you can cover the pot again.
Also check for the water level every now and then. Check the beans for doneness as from 30 minutes. Add more water if needed to cook the beans for longer. Soybeans may take from 30 minutes to one hour to cook.
Cook the beans until they are almost done or to about 80% done. Then add in the vinegar. Continue to cook the beans until they are soft but not mushy. I add the vinegar at the last stage of cooking as when vinegar is added at the beginning, I’ve noticed that the acidity considerably slows down the cooking process.
I guess if you are using a pressure cooker, you can add the vinegar right at the start. The vinegar is needed to provide a slightly acidic environment that favours the growth of the mould. The good thing about making tempeh at home is that you can cook the beans to the doneness that you like them.
I usually cook the beans to the softness that I usually consume them. This results in a smooth and creamy texture; something that you will not get with most store-bought tempeh. Once the beans are cooked, drain off most of the water.
Then, return the beans onto the heat and evaporate the remaining liquid from the pot. Allow the beans to cool to about 35°Celsius (or 95°Fahrenheit). Next, we are going to add in the rhizopus mould which is the tempeh starter.
I buy mine online. I’ll leave you some links below from where you can get it. If you want to have tempeh without any black spots, make sure to get a good quality starter. Although if you do get black spots, the tempeh is perfectly safe to eat.
It is just the life cycle of the mould that has aged a little bit more. Once beans are cooled to about 35°Celsius, add in the mould and mix well. There are three ways that you can allow the beans to ferment.
A zip lock bag is the most convenient one. Perforate the bag at an inch interval all over using a bamboo or metal skewer. This will allow the mould to breathe. Decide on the number of portions you want to make and place a portion of the beans inside.
Then close the bag and fold it if needed to reduce the size so that you have a nice thickness for the beans. Then evenly distribute the beans around. If you use a good quality zip lock bag, you can actually re-use it several times before it wears out.
A more environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic is to use banana leaves which are also the traditional way of making tempeh. I get frozen banana leaves from my local Asian store. Cut the leaf to the size you need.
Banana leaves are porous so they do not need any perforations. Place some beans in the middle and lightly shape them to a rectangle. Then fold the leaf over and secure with a toothpick. I only placed a small portion of beans for today but what I tend to do is to place a larger amount and make a longer log.
Once the tempeh cake is formed, then I just cut through the leaf itself and store the smaller portions. Sandwich the bags or wrapped leaves in between two chopping boards and keep in a warm place. If you have an incubator, you may place them in there overnight or you can leave them in the oven with only the lights turned on.
Just remember not to turn the oven on by accident and to remove them from there or the incubator after 12 hours. During winter, if you have the radiator on, you just can place them close by. What I have also found to work is to just place the beans in a glass or ceramic dish.
Then place the dish uncovered in a closed large box. I have one of those cake boxes with a lid that seem to work great for that purpose. Otherwise, you can just use any large box with a lid. Just keep the box in a warm area of the house.
After 36 to 48 hours, the tempeh should be ready. The mould should be fully grown around the beans holding them together. For the wrapped leaf, you should be able to see some spores through the cracks of the leaf, so you’ll know that the mould have grown and the tempeh is ready.
For the one in the dish the spores may tend to go a little out of control with this method. Also, the resulting tempeh is a little less compact and drier than when using a bag or wrapped leaf. But the tempeh cake still holds together well.
Make sure to thoroughly wash the box afterward to clean it of all remaining spores. Tempeh can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or it can be frozen for several months. I usually make tempeh twice a year and freeze the batch for over 6 months.
Apart from soybeans, tempeh can also be made with other beans, legumes, grains, or a mixture of these along with some seeds added in for extra nutrients, taste and texture. You can make tempeh with chickpeas or lentils for a soy-free option for example.
If you make soymilk or tofu at home, a good way to use up the okara, that is the leftover soy pulp, is to make tempeh with it. This works out to be very economical. In fact, this is how tempeh was discovered in Java, Indonesia, during the production of tofu when the discarded soybean pulp caught the spores and grew around the pulp.
It was found to be edible and tempeh was born. If using okara, you would just add a quarter of the amount of vinegar to the warm pulp. Then mix in the mould and proceed as for the rest of the recipe. Tempeh offers a much more nutritious and digestible way to eat soy if you are not intolerant or allergic.
The fermentation process reduces the phytic acid in the soy and this allows the body to better absorb the minerals. The gas causing substances are also considerably reduced by the rhizopus mould. Tempeh has to be properly cooked before consuming.
It can be steamed or boiled, marinated and pan fried or used according to your favourite recipes. I hope you’ve enjoyed this video. Don’t forget to give it a thumbs up. And if you attempt your own tempeh, share a picture with us and tag us on social media @veganlovlie.
Enjoy and see you soon.