Tempeh is becoming increasingly popular as a healthy alternative to meat. Last fall, I began a wonderful journey of exploration into the world of homemade tempeh. There is plenty of valuable info on how to make tempeh on the Internet. After a fair share of hits and misses, mostly hits, fortunately, I seem to have come to a method that works well, and makes yummy tempeh! (See my recipes for General Tao Tempeh and Tempeh Chickpea Toast Topper!)
For incubation, I use a Brod & Taylor Folding proofer, available at Amazon. It is perfect for maintaining correct temperature. Folding Bread Proofer and Yogurt Maker At first, I used a food thermometer, but it didn’t like being kept in the proofer and gave wild readings. I found an aquarium/terrarium thermometer that works very well.
I start with 3 cups of beans, either organic split soybeans, or a combination of soy and chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans and sunflower seeds. These are the ones I have tried so far. The beans are cooked until firm, so undercooked, drained and allowed to cool.
I dry the beans with a blow dryer to remove any excess moisture, until they are no longer shiny, about 10 minutes. They can also be dried in a towel. The batch in the picture is a combination of pinto beans and soybeans. Following the instructions I received with my tempeh stater, I add the vinegar, dry a bit more, then add the Tempeh Starter.
I tried these 5.5 inch plastic sandwich boxes. I drilled holes at about ¾ inch intervals. They make nice square blocks of tempeh, but they tend to allow moisture accumulation which makes the fermentation uneven. I also spoiled a couple of batches with this method.
My preferred container is the plastic sandwich bag, (pierced every cm for proper aeration). 3 cups of dried beans makes 4 bags of tempeh, about 270g.
I have also tried a Pyrex dish and ceramic ramekins. Although there is no ventilation on the sides or bottom, it seemed to work well, and is also a common practice, but there is moisture accumulation on the surface and less even fermentation of the beans.
I think these supports are used for roasting chicken, but I have no idea how they work, since I don’t eat meat. I found them at the Dollarama, and they are perfect for raising the tempeh in the proofer.
Placing the tempeh on the grill at the bottom is too close to the heat source. A grill can be placed over these supports to hold the bags or boxes in place. A shelf kit is now available for the proofer, but it is a bit pricey. Folding Proofer Shelf Kit
Fill bags with beans that have been dried and inoculated with tempeh starter. Preheat proofer to 88°; place bags in proofer. With a good thermometer, I have found that the temperature will generally be maintained between 88° and 89°, which is perfect for making tempeh.
I start my tempeh at around 6 P.M. so I don’t have to watch the temperature during the night. It will begin to generate heat in about 12 to 14 hours, at which point, as the temperature begins to rise above 89°, I turn the proofer temperature down, and not long after, I turn it off and set the lid off centre to allow excess heat and moisture to escape. Tempeh is ready in about 22-24 hours.
Black bean soy tempeh after about 23 hours.
The tempeh is steamed for 20 minutes. It is allowed to cool, then wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer.
Black bean soy tempeh, steamed.
Soy and sunflower tempeh, steamed.