Instructions - Tofu Mold Kit
Fresh, homemade tofu is fun and easy to make and has a wonderful, fresh texture com- pared to store bought tofu, which can be rubbery and tough. Fresh tofu will add a new dimension to your vegan & vegetarian cooking, or any of the thousands of recipes that call for tofu. If you keep soy beans in your emergency food storage (a very prudent idea!), adding a tofu kit gives you the ability to convert soybeans directly into a healthy, protein rich food source.
In addition to the tofu mold and cheese cloth, you will need dried soybeans, and a coagulant. We recommend using lemon juice, vinegar or Epsom salt as a coagulant. With a little practice and experimentation you will soon be a tofu pro able to make tofu of varying firmness and find your own personalized technique.
Preview: Tofu is made from soymilk, so the first step is to make fresh soymilk from your dried soybeans. While the soymilk is hot (approximately 185 degrees Fahrenheit), you stir in some tofu coagulant (lemon juice). The soymilk will start to curdle and separate into curds and whey. Then you simply scoop the soy curds into your cheese cloth lined mold, and compress. All the excess water will be squeezed out and you are left with a nice slab of ultra-fresh tofu! The longer you press the tofu, the firmer it gets. Some coagulants like Epsom salt or Nigari will make a smoother, softer tofu, while lemon juice or gypsum will make a slightly firmer tofu. It is fun to experiment!
- Vinegar – Use the same amount as lemon juice (1/4th cup). Vinegar, like lemon juice is easy to find, cheap and plentiful. It yields tofu with a hint of flavor. Lemon juice and vinegar are strong coagulants and will yield a firmer tofu.
- Gypsum (calcium sulfate) – Yes, the same white chalky stuff they use to make drywall. Use food grade gypsum. Dissolve 3 teaspoons of gypsum in half a cup of hot water and agitate thoroughly just prior to stirring in. Gypsum will yield tofu with a similar firmness to lemon juice or vinegar.
- Epsom Salt (magnesium sulfate) – Food grade Epsom salt is available at most grocery stores. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of Epsom salt in half a cup of hot water just prior to stirring in the hot soymilk. Epsom salt will yield a softer tofu.
- Nigari – Nigari is the traditional Japanese coagulant made from the remainder after sea salt is extracted from sea water. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of Nigari in half a cup of hot water just prior to stirring in the hot soymilk. Nigari will yield a softer tofu with the smoothest texture.
Making Tofu from Scratch
- 3 cups of dried, organic soybeans
- ¼ cup of lemon juice
- About 8 cups of water
- Step 1: Soak 3 cups of soybeans in cold water for 8 to 12 hours. Discard any discolored beans and give your soybeans a good rinse before soaking. The soybeans will absorb surprising amounts of water, so be sure to use plenty. During hot months, soak in the refrigerator.
- Step 2: Drain the soak water and give the soybeans a final cold water rinse.
- Step 3: In a large pot put on 2 cups of water on medium heat. You will be boiling about 2 to 3 quarts of slurry, and it has a tendency to foam heavily and boil over. You need to use at least a 6 quart pot or larger to manage the foam.
- Step 4: Place half your soybeans into a blender with 3 cups of hot water and blend thoroughly into a fine slurry. Pour the slurry into the pot with the heating water. Repeat the process with your 2nd half of beans and 3 more cups of hot water. Add the 2nd batch of slurry to the pot.
- Step 5: Bring the slurry to a boil. Watch closely as it will foam up fast. When it begins to foam, remove from heat and allow to cool a little as you stir the foam back in. Reapply heat and bring to a boil again. Turn off the heat when it foams and repeat the process of cooling and stirring the foam back in. Repeat a 3rd time. It should be foaming much less at this point. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Note: The technique of boiling, cooling and stirring the foam back in is the traditional Japanese method for cooking the slurry. This technique is said to remove any bitterness from the tofu. If you find that your batch is slightly bitter, you can repeat the boiling/cool- ing/stirring process more than the 3 times in your next batch of tofu to experiment.
- Step 6: Strain the cooled slurry using a wire mesh strainer or cheese cloth to separate the soybean grounds from the soymilk. Press the grounds into the strainer with the back of a large spoon to extract the maximum amount of soymilk. The leftover soybean grounds are called “Okara”.
- Step 7: Optional: Mix 1 or 2 cups of very hot water back into the strained Okara and boil. Strain again to obtain the last remnants of soymilk. Step 8: At this point you have soymilk (about 2 to 2 ½ quarts), but it will be much thicker than regular soymilk, and of course completely unflavored. Place your thick soymilk back on the stove. Stir regularly until the soymilk just begins to boil then remove from heat.
- Step 9: Pour your hot soymilk into a large bowl, and allow to cool to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Measure closely with a cooking thermometer. Pour in 1/4th cup of lemon juice (or other coagulant substitution) and stir gently but quickly four or five times to make sure the coagulant is thoroughly mixed in. Your soymilk should begin to curdle almost immediately.
- Step 10: Allow to stand for about 15 minutes. At this point there should be a very clear separation of the soy curds from the whey.
- Step 11: Line your tofu mold with the cheese cloth. You have enough curds for one large mold (wooden or plastic) or 2 of the smaller plastic molds. Make sure your mold is in a shallow bowl or plate as the whey will drain off and you don’t want a mess!
- Step 12: Transfer the soy curds into the cheesecloth lined mold. You should see the whey draining off immediately. Once you have transferred all the curds into the mold(s) fold the cheese cloth over the top so your tofu curd is wrapped completely. Place the lid on top and press gently. Place a weight (2 to 3 pounds) on the lid of the mold to compress your tofu.
- Step 13: The longer you press the tofu in the mold, the firmer it will be. Press for 5 or 10 minutes for soft tofu. Experiment with pressing your tofu for up to two hours for very firm.
- Step 14: Once you have pressed the tofu for the desired duration, remove the cheese cloth from the mold and submerge the wrapped tofu in a bowl of cold water. Carefully unwrap the tofu and leave in the cold water for several minutes to firm up.
- Step 15: You have fresh, healthy, organic tofu!
- Storage -Your tofu is best served or prepared when it is fresh out of the mold, but can be stored for up to a week. Store in your refrigerator sub- merged in water, and change the storage water daily. Tofu can be frozen for long term storage.
- Cheesecloths – The cheese cloths are re-usable and with care will last for many uses. They are machine washable and should be washed and dried thoroughly between each use. Bleaching is recommended. Best not to wash with clothing. Additional cheesecloths are available from www.trueleafmarket.com.
- Stir Regularly – When cooking or heating soymilk or slurry, stir regularly to prevent too much from sticking to the bottom of your pot or burning.
- Use Caution – Making tofu requires dealing with hot liquids. Use care to prevent boil over and burns.
- Thick Soymilk – The recipe above makes very thick soymilk that is not really for drinking. However you can convert to drinkable soymilk by thinning out the mix to suit you. You might also experiment with some additives for flavor like salt, agave nectar, maple syrup, vanilla, ginger extract, etc… You can find many recipes for flavoring soymilk online.
- Soymilk Maker – Tofu is made from soymilk, so making your own soymilk using a soymilk machine is fine. Follow the directions in your soymilk maker to make soymilk. The recipe above makes about 2 quarts (8 cups) of thick soymilk. Soymilk made in a machine will typically be thinner. Two quarts of machine made soymilk will simply yield a smaller quantity of tofu.
- Soft Water – It is fine to use regular tap water to make tofu, but soft water will yield a better tasting, healthier tofu.
- Okara: Okara is the ground remnant of the soymilk & tofu making process. Okara is low in calories, high in fiber, and still has some remaining protein. Okara is highly perishable, so use within a day or freeze for long term storage, it can also be toasted dry. If you experiment with other tofu making techniques (see below) you need to make sure that the Okara is thoroughly cooked before using as food. Okara can be mixed into soups and sauces to add body. It can be made into a porridge or polenta, or used to extend oatmeal or other hot breakfast cereals. Toasted okara can be added to cookies, muffins, granola and more. There are dozens of other uses including animal feed. You can search online and find hundreds of uses and recipes for okara.
- Finding Tofu Recipes: Any good vegan or vegetarian cookbook will have many recipes and ideas for using tofu. A quick search online will discover thousands of exciting and delicious tofu recipe ideas. Tofu is great fried, in salads, in a quiche, in vegetarian casseroles, lasagnas, stir fry, pumpkin pies, and much more!
- Other Techniques: As you might imagine, there are many different approaches and techniques to making tofu. The technique described above is very close to the ancient Japanese method for making tofu (use Nigari as a coagulant to get closer). However, there are many different ap- proaches you could try.