Tofu 101

A Chinese discovery, a Japanese word, mostly grown in USA.. Wherever it come from we love it!

Made popular in western culture in the 1970’s, this beautiful block of bean-curd has been a staple ingredient in East-Asian cuisine for almost 2000 years. Given that it is quite bland in it’s natural flavour, you can add it to stir-fries and curries, baked, crumbed and fried, even put it in dessert, it will take on just about any flavour you throw at it.

Tofu has been the #1 source of plant-based protein among those following a vegetarian or vegan diet for decades, with 8g of protein per 100g. It contains 9 essential amino acids to supplement a complete protein source and is low in calories, with only 70cal per 100g serve.

So, what is it? It’s basically soy milk squished into a block. If you think about it, it’s pretty much the same way cheese is made. Milk is coagulated (a fancy word for a liquid changing into a semi-solid state) to form curds, it’s separated from whey (the watery by-product) and then pressed firmly into the moulded shape you see in the store.

So, because we live in an industrialised world where our every hope and desire is available at our fingertips (likely wrapped in a neat plastic package) how do we get our delicious tofu? Well, we make it! For about half the cost of the store bought version and minimal ingredients, it’s easy to make no compromise tofu.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1.5 cups of dried soy beans, as organic and as fresh as you can find them
  • 12 cups (2.8 litres) of tap or filtered water
  • 4.5 cups (1 litres) of water for soaking
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 colander or similar for draining
  • 1 food processor or blender
  • 2 cheese/muslin clothes
  • 1 large boiling pot
  • 1 wooden spoon and/or ladle
  • 1 Sourced Sustainability Wooden Tofu Press

Here’s how you make it:

  1. Soak 2 cups of soy beans in 4.5 cups of water overnight (or for at least 8 hours). Keep in mind the beans will absorb the liquid and will get close to triple in size (so make sure you use the right sized bowl).
  2. Drain the soybeans through a colander or strainer. Thoroughly rise them under a tap. Don’t forget to catch this water with your recently emptied bowl, you can water your garden or plants with it no worries.
  3. Add soybeans and water to your blender. The amount you need to add will vary on the capacity of your machine, but my general guide is to use 1 cup of soaked soy beans to 3 cups of water, so you will likely need to process them in batches.
  4. Line your colander with a cheese cloth over the large pot. Pour the mixture in to the cheese cloth and allow the raw milk to drain through into the pot. Gather up the corners and edges of your cheese cloth and squeeze it firmly to squeeze out all the available milk.
    You’ll be left with the soybean pulp in the cheese cloth, called okara. Don’t throw this away, as it can be used in other cooking recipes.
    Repeat the blending process as many times as required until you have thoroughly blended and milked all of the soybeans.
  5. Place the pot on the stove over a high heat, continually stir with a wooden spoon as the milk will form a skin on the bottom and can burn!
    Keep an eye on the foam level as the milk gets closer to boiling, it can bubble over the edge of the pot. Turn the heat down or carefully take the pot off the heat if it gets too close to boiling over. Return to the heat and aim for a rapid boil for 3-5mins. This is a necessary process to take some of the raw, “planty” taste from milk but also evaporate off some water to give the soy milk a richer flavour. Congratulations, you’ve just made soy milk!
  6. Leave it rest for around 20mins (uncovered, preferably) and allow it to cool slightly. If you have a thermometer, the temperature we’re aiming for is 70-80°C.
  7. Juice your lemon into a cup, be sure not to let any seed fall in!
  8. Once the soy milk is at the desired temperature, pour in the lemon juice and stir thoroughly. You should already start to see some curds forming, where the soy milk starts to clump together (that’s good!).
  9. Cover the pot and allow this to sit for 20-30mins, you should hopefully see the curds (the white lumps) separate from the whey (the clear liquid around it). Now we’re ready to press!
  10. Assemble your Sourced Sustainability Wooden Tofu Press and line it with a cheese cloth, ensuring that there is plenty of cloth overhanging on all four sides.
  11. Gently spoon in the curds with a wooden spoon or ladle, it doesn’t matter if you spoon in the liquid also, because this will just drain out the bottom.
  12. When all of the curds are inside the cheese cloth, fold the overhanging edges towards the centre of the press, making sure there is no hole at the top where the curds may come out!
  13. Place the lid and the screw press on top, screw it down to start seeing some liquid draining out the bottom and sides. You may need to tighten this down from time to time, as more liquid pushes out. Monitor this every 10mins or so and tighten as required for the next 30-45mins.
  14. Disassemble the tofu press, leaving you with your finish block of delicious tofu!
  15. Place the tofu (still in the cheese cloth if you wish) onto a similarly sized container, fill it with cold tap water and put it in the fridge, this will help the tofu firm up. Leave it in fridge for a few hours before using it in your favourite recipes. 

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us by commenting below or sending us a DM on Instagram (@sourcedsustainability). 

Below are a few items mentioned in the article that can help you get started!

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