Have you always wanted to learn how to make your own tempeh? Then this article is for you!
Tempeh is one of those unique fermentations that shakes up most westerners and throws them out of their comfort zone.
Common in Indonesia, where it is produced traditionally, it's a bit like "Indonesian Brie cheese" if one judges it according to its mycelium (the name of the moss produced by mold) covering.
But unlike Brie, tempeh is a food that's very easy to make. While you wait about a month for sauerkraut to be ready, why not try tempeh, which takes only 36 hours?
It's like instant gratification!
- Fermentation type: Proteolytic, Mold
- Culture: Rhizopus Oligosporus/Rhyzopus oryzae
- Preparation time: 2 hours and 12 hours of soaking
- Fermentation time: 24 to 48 hours
- 1 teaspoon (3 to 5g) of tempeh starter culture
- 700g (1.5lb) of dry soy beans, or any other beans
- 3L (12 cups) water + water needed for soaking
- 3 teaspoon vinegar
- Large bowl with large spoon
- Medium Ziploc-type bags
If you want to keep it easy for your first recipe, we suggest you choose split peas. They have no skin (tegument), so you can jump from step 1 to step 4.
- Soak the beans for 12 to 24 hours.
- Vigorously rub the beans to remove as many beans teguments as possible (the little skin surrounding the bean). You can also mash them or even grind them using whatever technique you wish. It's important to remove as many of the teguments as possible because they prevent the fungus from penetrating all the way through the beans.
- With a skimmer, remove as many skins as possible. Drain and rinse.
- In a large pot filled with water, cook the beans over medium heat (without salt) for 30 minutes or until cooked al dente.
- Drain well, then spread them out on a clean cloth to cool and allow the water to evaporate. Excess water will promote the growth of bacteria and could prevent the growth of the mold.
- Transfer into a large bowl when the temperature of your beans is approximately 40°C and their surface is completely dry.
- Sprinkle with tempeh starter culture. Add the vinegar. Mix for at least 1 minute to properly spread the spores on each bean.
- Fill the Ziploc bags. Using a fork, poke tiny holes about 1-2 cm apart (1/2 inch). This allows the tempeh to breath. Caution: the holes must be as small as possible, as too much air can cause the formation of unappetizing (but non-dangerous) black spores. At the same time, if there are not enough holes, the tempeh will have problems developing. Tip: Ziploc bags (fruit and vegetable bags) can be found already perforated.
- Spread the beans in the bags and gently flatten them to a thickness of about 2 to 3 cm to remove the air.
- Place in an incubator with a temperature between 20 and 34°C (82 and 93°F). For an incubator, you can use an oven with its light bulb on for low heat. Allow it to ferment for 24 to 36 hours. Flip the bags after 12 hours.
- After 12 to 16 hours, white spots will begin to appear. This is the mycelium beginning to grow. You can turn the light off in your oven or cut your incubator's heat because your tempeh will begin to produce its own heat at this stage.
- The tempeh is ready when it forms solid blocks and the beans are covered in a thick white mycelium, usually after 24 to 48 hours of fermentation. If black spots appear around the aeration holes, it's not a problem. It's only a sign that it's ready.
- Immediately refrigerate or freeze to prevent it from over-fermenting. Do not stack the bags when you put them in the refrigerator, as the ones in the middle could produce heat and over-ferment. Over-fermented tempeh will develop a rancid odor.
Tempeh is eaten cooked. It's cubed or sliced and often marinated, then grilled in a pan, roasted in the oven, pricked on skewers or as a vegetable burger. It's not totally safe to eat it raw.
The tempeh can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Note: If you use a dehydrator as an incubator, place the bags on a perforated aluminum tray to avoid over-drying the tempeh.