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Archive for February, 2011

Making Tofu at Home

My dream to make tofu at home began with a ziplock freezer bag of Okara. A friend brought some over after making her own tofu at home and told me to use it when baking muffins, making smoothies etc. I had never heard of Okara, but after that week I wanted all my smoothies and muffins to be fortified by the creamy protein rich secret of tofu making.

Prepare the soybeans:

Soak 6 cups organic soybeans in 15 cups of cold water. 8-10 hours (0vernight)

After beans have soaked and doubled in size, rinse and drain them. Then grind 2 cups at a time in a food processor* to a gritty or sandy paste (roughly the size of raw quinoa).

Into about 2 gallons of rapidly boiling water use a wire wisk to add ground soybeans. Return to a boil then cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Stir occassionally, watch carefully, the soybeans have a tendency to foam over.

*Blender alternative: blend 1 cup of beans to 3 cups water for about 1 minute, then boil for 15 minutes.

Strain the soymilk

Use a fine mesh nylon or silk (cheesecloth if doubled or tripled) to line a large colander over a bowl to catch the liquid soymilk. What remains from the straining process is Okara, which can be stored in the freezer and used in various recipes from baking to smoothies.

Transfer the soymilk back to the large boiling pot. You might like to reserve some soymilk to drink warm or cold with a touch of vanilla and sweetening.

Curdling Agents

Not to be confused with curling or cuddling…

A curdling agent must be used to produce the tofu from the soymilk. Select one from the list below:

  • Vinegar 5% acidity
  • Lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
  • Epsom salts
  • Nigari

For 2 1/2 cups dried beans use 1 cup warm water and 1/4 cup of Vinegar or Lemon Juice or increase the water by 1/2 cup and use 1 1/2-2 teaspoons of Epsom Salts or  Nigari.

For 2 pounds or 5-6 cups of dried beans use 1 1/2 cup of warm water plus 1/2 cup of Vinegar or Lemon Juice or increase the water to 2 cups and add 3-4 teaspoons of Epsom Salts or Nigari.

Curdling the soymilk

Gently stir the warm soymilk (about 185 degrees F.) and create turbulence with a paddle. Slowly add the disolved curdling solution. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. The curdling is complete when clear, yellow, liquid (the whey) surrounds  fluffy, white curds. For firmer tofu, boil the curds and whey for a few minutes.

Curds and Whey

Strain and ladle out the whey until mostly curds remain. Ladle the curds into a colander lined with fine mesh nylon or silk cloth, set over a bowl to drain. You now have an answer to what Miss Muffit ate on her Tuffet. Try the curds with a little grate of fresh ginger and sweetening.

Press and Rinse the Tofu

Fold the cloth over the curds and press the tofu with a paddle, then set a bowl of water on top (for weight) as the tofu drains for about 20-30 minutes. Next, with a hand interrupting the stream of water so it doesn’t crash directly on the delicate tofu, rinse the tofu without unwrapping it, through the cloth with cold water (this washes away any bitterness from the curdling agent). Store covered in water in the refrigerator. Change the water daily.

Wash tools and tofu making pots and pans immediately.

I enjoyed some of the best tofu I have ever tasted and earned a healthy respect for the labor intensive product and complete protein. The process was made all the more enjoyable with family and friends learning with me.

Simple Tofu Salad

Juice from 1 lemon

1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Soy sauce

toasted sesame oil

black sesame seeds for garnish

1/2 to 1 pound fresh homemade tofu

Gently mix the lemon juice with an equal amount of soy sauce, add sesame oil equal to half the lemon juice. Dice the tofu and place one cube thick on a shallow dish with a rim. Drizzle with the dressing, garnish with chopped cilantro and sesame seeds. Diced tomatoes, cucumbers and sliced mushrooms can also top the tofu. Make additional dressing as needed. Dressing should pool in the bottom of the dish and marinate the tofu for about an hour. Serve chilled.

I hope this experience inspires you to make your own Tofu and Okara at home.

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