rants & recipes

Homemade Tempeh

Posted by ataraktos on 2010-07-24

Last weekend, we finally got around to making some tempeh. We'd wanted to do this for years and despite the failure of, by far and away the most expensive piece of hardware, our tempeh turned out perfect!

New piece of hardware #1 - a grain mill attachment for our Bosch Universal mixer. We used this to split the soybeans. Some sites instruct you to roll cooked soybeans with a rolling pin to crack them but we didn't want to handle them after they were cooked (to keep them more sterile), so we cracked them dry with the grain mill.

So we set this up, with a cute little red fan, whose job it was to winnow the soybeans as them came out of the grain mill. In practice, this didn't work too well. But there's nothing inherently wrong with some hulls in your tempeh, so we got out what we could and didn't worry about the rest.

We purchased powdered tempeh starter from Gem Cultures. $8 buys enough for 10 pounds of tempeh.

So we cracked the dried beans (1 pound of dried beans), de-hulled them as best we could and cooked them, on the stove, for about 1 hour. To the cooking water we added 1/4 cup distilled vinegar. Then we drained them and spun them in a salad spinner to dry them further still.

We poked holes in four sandwich-sized ziploc bags. To the drained beans we added 1/4 cup distilled vinegar and a 1 tsp of starter. We divided the mix into the bags and put the flattened bags into our oven.

Oven set-up - a light bulb and a fan, for air circulation:

Second piece of new hardware - a sous vide temperature regulator. This guy has a temperature probe and is connected to, in this case, the lightbulb - the idea is, you tell it what temperature you want and it controls the lightbulb to maintain the temperature.

The sensor failed at 1AM, shrieking an alarm because it thought our oven had reached 140 degrees. We used the back-up sensor which started alarming about 3AM. New temperature probes are on they way to us. We'll see if they do any better.

Anyway, we turned on the oven light and decided to just leave our tempeh in the oven, to see what would happen. We didn't have high hopes for it, as it was only about 80 degrees in the oven (recommended 88-95 degrees).

However, we were pleasantly surprised - after about 21 hours - we had tempeh!

Out of the bag, you can see the little black spots, where spores formed at the holes in the bags:

Cut, looks like tempeh:

We thought this was much easier than making homemade tofu. And, like homemade tofu, much tastier than store-bought. Its texture was quite different - spongy and a little furry. But, once cooked, it had similar texture to store-bought with much fresher, stronger flavor. We look forward to making some more, when our new temperature probes arrive. And trying with black-eyed peas, peanuts, soybeans+okara and chickpeas (if we can figure out how to crack dried chickpeas!)