How To Make Tempeh in 7 Easy Steps
No, really. I’ve tasted a lot of different tempeh over the years, With varying degrees of luck. Some are just plain bitter and don’t taste good at all, some are OK, especially if they’re marinated and fried well. But that’s all tempeh’s ever been to the both of us: OK.
Until we decided to make it ourselves.
Gunnar’s now so smitten with it, he eats it daily – even raw, meaning without any seasoning or marinade whatsoever. And the kids? They went from not even being able to handle the smell, to eating it with joy and great appetite. So: is the difference between store-bought and homemade tempeh really THAT big? Apparently, yes. So we’re gonna go ahead and share our recipe for tempeh. It’s really easy to make, but it takes some time. It has to ferment for three days and nights (allthough we usually get away with just two). At the same time, don’t you just love food that makes itself while you can spend some time around the house? A hot tip: Make a lot and freeze them. We guarantee you you’ll need them. Once you go homemade tempeh, you’ll never go back.
Ingredients for about 2-3 tempeh blocks:
- 2 cups of dry soy beans
- 1/2 tsp tempeh starter (I buy mine from TopCultures.com)
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 – 3 ziplock bags
This is how you do it:
- You can make tempeh out of almost any bean, but our best result so far have been with soybeans. That’s also the most common bean to use in tempeh making. But try out different types and play with it. Just know that cooking times vary from different kinds of beans. Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with cold, fresh water. Let them sit overnight, and remember they will double in size so use enough water.
2. When the beans have soaked overnight, drain the water. Now it’s time to split the beans. If you don’t do this, the starter culture may not work properly, so this is an important step. In the beginning I did this by hand, one by one bean. But this was very time consuming so I had to find another method. My best method so far has been to add the beans to my Kenwood mixer with the paddler attatchment on and let the machine run for 10-15 minutes on low to medium. Then most of the beans will split in two. It doesn’t matter if some beans are left whole.
3. Find a large pot and add all the split beans to it. Fill the pot with fresh water, so that the water covers the beans and then some. Cook the beans for about 1 hour. After about 5 minutes you will see quite a bit of foam forming and the hulls rising to the surface. Use a spoon and remove all of the foam and hulls. You will need to do this every now and then. Throw the hulls away.
4. When the beans have cooked for about an hour, drain the water. Let the beans stay in the pot and let the pot sit on the stove on the absolute lowest heat for 10 minutes while stirring occasionally, until the beans seem dry. It may take longer time. You can also, after adding the vinegar, place all the beans on clean kitchen towels and let them sit there until dry. If the beans are too wet when placing them into the bags, it could increase the chances of bacteria growth and the tempeh will be ruined. The beans will have to cool down to about 98 F (37 C) before adding the tempeh starter. We use a cooking thermometer for this.
5. Add the vinegar to the beans and stir well. Then, add the tempeh starter. Mix well so that the starter gets really incorporated to the beans.
6. Find some ziplock bags and a tooth pick or a skewer. Make holes in the bags on both sides so that the tempeh can breath during fermentation. We use a skewer and pierce 6-8 holes in each bag, just stick it right through the bag. It’s important that the holes are going through on both sides. Flatten the bags or shape them to be the size and thickness you want for your tempeh cakes.
7. Now it’s time to get patient. The tempeh will need to be places in a suitable environment for proper fermentation. We have built our own incubator and it works very well! But you can use your oven with only the light turned on, or a cupboard with the right temperature and air flow, or a dehydrator with the right temperature. Some people also use an instant pot with the yoghurt mode turned on. Check youtube for good ideas. The important thing is that the tempeh needs about 85 – 90 degreees F to be properly fermented. After about 30 hours or maybe a little less, you can turn off the heat since the tempeh now generates its on heat. Be careful that the temperature doesn’t exceed 90 F, or the tempeh probably will be ruined because the tempeh starter dies.
Here is the recipe for your own homebuilt incubator. It’s easy to make and you can make several blocks at a time:
If you are looking for a good marinade look no further, this super easy and cheap bbq sauce will fit this tempeh block perfectly