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Soy tempeh

This article is part of: tempeh.

What is it?

Tempeh is a fermented product from Indonesia made from soybeans and a fungus called Rhizopus. During the fermentation, the fungus feeds on the soybeans and grows in the space around them, binding them together. This processs breaks down the molecules and this pre-digestion allows us to absorb many more nutrients from the soybeans. That makes tempeh as rich in protein and iron as meat. It is also higher in fibre and calcium while being lower in saturated fat and salt. The taste of tempeh evokes aromas of mushrooms, nuts and yeast, and its texture is firm, chunky and "meaty". Extremely delicious!

What do we need to make it?

Ingredients (for ~375 g of tempeh)

  • 250 g soybeans
  • ​1⁄4 tablespoon of tempeh starter (rhizopus)
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar
Organic soybeans, rhizopus & rice vinegar
Organic soybeans, rhizopus & rice vinegar

Material

  • Something to wrap the soybeans together, this can be plastic wrap, a zipper lock freezer bag or a mould
  • An incubator, or a any other place that provides a constant temperature of about 30°C

How to make it?

The following process takes about 30 hours.

Remove the hulls

  • Soak the soybeans in water overnight or cook for 20 minutes
  • Massage them in a basin to remove the hulls
  • Remove the hulls from the water (by pouring the water from the basin, the hulls will come out first)
  • Repeat until there are almost no hulls left
Cooking facilitates and accelerates the removal of the hulls
Cooking facilitates and accelerates the removal of the hulls
A little massage does the trick
A little massage does the trick
Much easier than expected, isn't it?
Much easier than expected, isn't it?

Why remove the hulls?

The hulls of the soybeans prevent a good growth of the fungi and lead to bad tempeh.

Cook the soybeans

  • In a pot of boiling water: add a tablespoon of vinegar and cook the soybeans for 25 minutes
  • Drain the soybeans in a colander and rinse briefly with water
A tablespoon of vinegar helps keep bad bacteria away
A tablespoon of vinegar helps keep bad bacteria away

Innoculate the rhizopus

  • Dry the soybeans very well (we use kitchen towels, but some use fans) and let them cool to room temperature
  • Add 1⁄4 tablespoon of tempeh starter (rhizopus) and mix well
Drying the soybeans well allows the rhizopus to grow quickly
Drying the soybeans well allows the rhizopus to grow quickly
1⁄4 tablespoon of tempeh starter (rhizopus)
1⁄4 tablespoon of tempeh starter (rhizopus)
Can you see the spores?
Can you see the spores?

Shape the tempeh

  • Put the enhanced soybeans in plastic wrap, a zipper lock freezer bag or a mould
  • Make sure that the soybeans are well compacted (that there is not too much space between them)
  • Using a needle or a toothpick, make small holes on all sides to allow the rhizopus to breathe
The tempeh are ready to go into the incubator
The tempeh are ready to go into the incubator

Let it incubate

  • Put your growing tempeh in the incubator
  • Let your tempeh ferment for 24-30 hours at ~30°C

When can I see if it works?

Nothing visible happens in the first 15 hours. Then a white and cloudy feel takes over, which is a very good sign.

Tempeh is ready

Take the tempeh out of the incubator when the rhizopus has grown all around the soybean, turning it into a compact white block. Yaaay, fresh tempeh!

Storage

Fresh tempeh can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. Freezing is also an option to keep it longer but it is so good that we usually eat it in a few days, no need for preservation techniques in the club.

Created 06/04/2021

Updated 06/04/2021