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Homemade Tempeh

What is Tempeh?

How to Make Tempeh?

Ziplock bag method

Tupperware method

Banana leaf method

Bean Comparison for Tempeh

Tempeh Recipes

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh refers to fermented beans. Traditionally soy beans are used as the base. You find tempeh a lot in Asian cuisine, especially in Indonesia. It is often used in vegetarian and vegan dishes for a meat substitute. It's flavor depends mostly on the marinade and cooking method. Although soy beans are the traditional beans used in making tempeh, you can also experiment with using mung beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc. As the beans ferment, they bind together into one solid, that you then slice for cooking and consuming. The fermenting process typically takes 36-48 hours.

You can order the tempeh starter culture online by searching 'tempeh starter'. It typically comes in the form of a white powder.

When making homemade tempeh it is best to work with dried beans, cook and dry them, then allow the fermentation process to occur (see below for recipe and further instructions).


How to Make Tempeh?

Vegan I Gluten Free

Time: overnight soaking + 15-30 minute cooking time + 2-4 hours sun drying time + 36-48 hours fermenting time

1 kilo dried beans

1 tbsp. tempeh starter

2 tbsp. vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar)

Using a strainer, rinse 1 kilo of your dried beans of choice until the draining water appears mostly clean and clear.

Transfer the beans to a container, and cover the beans with ~5 inches of water (or enough that they can absorb liquid and still be submerged). Leave to soak overnight (or 8-12 hours).

Strain the water from the beans and prepare to cook them. Place the beans in a large sauce pot and cover with roughly 2 inches of water. Boil over medium heat, uncovered, for suggested time based on the package's cooking instructions.* Keep an eye on the beans, stirring occasionally. You are looking for the beans to be just slightly undercooked. You want the bean to still be in tact, not split or mushy.

When the beans appear to be done cooking, strain the water and prepare to dry them. Place the beans on a tray or in a container in a single layer, leave in the sun to dry until most of the moisture is gone. If the beans are too wet, your tempeh will mold (in an undesirable way haha!).

When the beans are dry, add them to a large mixing bowl along with the tempeh starter powder and vinegar. Stir until well combined.

Next, prepare the beans to sit and ferment for roughly 36-48 hours. You can do this by adding the beans to a zip lock bag, tupperware or banana leaf...

*Keep a watch on the beans, don't rely solely on how long the package says to cook them. For instance, hulled mung beans suggests 30-60 minutes cooking time, and it took me roughly 20-25 minutes to complete the cooking. You want the beans to be just cooked or even slightly undercooked.

Note: If using 1/2 a kilo of beans, half the starter and vinegar recommended.

Zip lock bag method:

Place the beans in a ziplock bag and lay it flat. Use a knife or sharp object to poke several small holes in each side of the bag. You want it to be breathable, but no bugs to get in. Store in a dark space untouched.

Tupperware method:

Place the beans into a glass tupperware. Cover with a breathable cloth such as a cheese cloth or poke small holes in plastic wrap and secure around your container. You can also place the tupperware with the starter into a larger box, tupperware, or cake carrier.

Store in a dark space untouched.

Banana leaf method:

Pack the beans into a container with your desired tempeh shape. Take your clean and dry banana leaf on the bottom side and lay flat, remove the big center stem so you have a pliable piece.

Flip the beans onto the leaf to keep the desired shape. Wrap the beans carefully by folding the edges of the banana leaf in and pinning them down. You can use toothpicks, skewers, threads, etc. to keep the leaf closed.

Store in a dark space untouched.


Bean Comparison for Tempeh

Brown Lentils:

Ferment: 2-3 days then move to the fridge

Results: The beans were still a bit loose after the fermentation. During cooking I worked carefully and was able to make slices, however, I think would work best in crumbles.

Did not work well for chopping in cubes and putting on a skewer, it would easily slip off.


Hulled Mung Beans:

(Mung beans without the shell.)

Ferment: 2-3 days, then move to the fridge.

Results: The tempeh is super easy to work with for a variety of dishes. You can make small strips, cubes, etc. and it keeps shape. I find it marinates the best and is easiest to work with.

Mung Beans:

Mung beans, with the shell on.

Ferment: 2-3 days, then move to the fridge.

Results: Holds up well in strips or smaller cubes. However, the shell on the beans creates a less uniformed texture and appearance than the hulled mung beans. Fairly easy to work with.

Organic Soy Beans:

Ferments: 2-3 days, then move to the fridge.

Results: Holds up well in strips or smaller cubes. Easy to marinate and work with for a variety of dishes.

Note: Typical tempeh is made from soy beans. Make sure to choose organic soy beans to work with since soy is a top GMO.


Tempeh Recipes

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