Today I want to share my tempeh making experience, I have a new batch growing ready for my friend that is coming to install my instant gas hot water system, my way to repay friends that help me is to cook up a storm for them and this friend is vegan so I’m making tempeh for him there is nothing like homemade tempeh, you won’t eat that store bought tempeh that I personally think smells like old socks again!!!
Not sure what I’m going to create with it yet something simple so as not to over whelm the mushroomy sweet taste of the tempeh, I will more than likely stir fry it with some rehydrated slippery Jacks (Suillus luteus) I dried from last season and fresh greens. I will also just fry some and serve with a hot dipping sauce, as in the picture I used here.
I love soy beans but it can be hard to get locally grown organic beans here in Tassie so I’m keen on finding alternate beans that I can make tempeh with and so far I have tried a rice and seaweed tempeh, that was nice and a home grown broad bean tempeh that needed twigging a bit the bean pieces needed to be smaller but it was a nice tempeh and broad beans grow well here in Tassie, I dry heaps each year I use them in everything I use flour in or I ferment them and make fermented broad bean pikelets another story.
I have been cooking and working with food for many years and never ever dreamt of making my own tempeh I thought it was going to be some specialized technically hard thing to create so never even bothered to look it up even though I make my own soy milk and tofu. I just thought because it used culture it would be beyond me but it is very, very easy….
On a recent trip to Indonesia where tempeh makes up a good part of their diet and they grow it there it was in every little corner store wrapped in banana leaves just sitting out with the veggies, It motivated me to really look into the process when I got home.
Plus my mother had bought me Sandor Kratz book Wild Fermentation on request which has now become my bible and it is no exaggeration to say this book changed my life! Sandor’s book has many other amazing recipes and directions and he made tempeh making sound so easy, so that was it I decide I was going to give it a crack, so I bought the cultures and I haven’t looked back.
I will explain the process and my experience with making tempeh and hopefully it will motivate you to give it a go you wont be sorry. So once you have everything you need which is beans, vinegar, culture a heat pad or heating source a frame to grow tempeh in and a good digital thermometer you are set. Ok I soak the beans overnight and early in the morning I de hull them by draining them and putting them into a clean tea towel and massaging and rubbing the hull’s off, this also splits the beans and if they are cooked rite they should only split in two not mash up, they are over cooked if this happens.
I then put them in a big pot full of water and scoop off the floating hulls with a deep frying spoon, the ones with wire scoop that they have in Asian grocer’s, now there is a trick to this technique, it is all about rhythm! or it’s all in the wrist as some say, you need to vigorously stir the beans to get a whirl pool happening and as the beans are swirling around and as they are starting to sink you come along behind in a circular motion and collect all the floating hulls and if you keep stirring in a rhythm and at a pace where you are stirring up the settling hull at every stroke and catching them in the scoop with the next stroke but not hard enough to bring the beans up…… play with it, it can be very relaxing as most rhythmic thing are.
So get as many hull’s out as possible because the next stage is cooking them in a pressure cooker, you can cook them in other ways but it takes 5 minutes in the pressure cooker and probable 4 or 5 hours just boiling and steaming, be careful because any hull’s that are left can get caught in the little steam release valve and I can tell ya it’s not pretty when this happens…….. It is quite dangerous so try to get all the hull’s out, after scooping as much as possible rinse them a few times and as you pour off the water each time more hull’s will float off.
Remember if you have to cook more than one lot make sure you clean out the hole in the lid before each batch ok…. and stand there and listen to the little toggle on top if it stops moving and making a noise it could be blocked so turn of the plate off asap and move away from the cooker hopefully it will settle down but DON’T try to open it, you will get burnt!!!
And if the pressure relief plug does break and it streams out DON’T go near it, it’s better to just clean up the mess after than get burnt all over ok, they go off like a bomb, but they are so efficient so you just need to be careful!
Each pressure cooker is different to, I only have to cook my split de hulled beans for 5 minutes in one of mine and 10 minutes in another… so you need to experiment with your cooker you want the beans to be just el denta, so still firm the culturing process cooks the bean fully. So once your beans are cooked and cooled put them in a big pot and stir in culture and vinegar, cultures should come with directions.
Most literature says to use plastic bags to grow in but I don’t like the idea of soft plastic and heat so I made a metal frame and I put cheese cloth in it and pack my beans into this to grow. Now for the harder bit in the process, I use an animal heat pad from when I was a wild life carer so I was lucky enough to have all the equipment I needed, please make sure you get a good quality heat pad with a good canvas or hard cover, not those soft ones they are selling as foot heat pads for people my friend had one of those and it could have burnt don’t the house, the wirers melted through the plastic cover over the night, just a bit scary!
I wrap my heat pad in a towel put it in a box and place my tempeh frame packed with the beans on top of this I put my thermometer sensor in beside the beans and cover it all up and sit temperature monitor on top so I can see it. It has to sit at between 30 and 32 degrees for 24 hours, I sit mine where I can see it at all times so I can just keep checking the temp, some way through the process the tempeh will start to create its own heat so you need to keep adjusting it so it doesn’t over heat.
The reason I make tempeh in the morning is it gives me time to get the temperature rite so I’m not going to bed worried I don’t have it rite! In 24 hour or so, Wallah you will have the most amazing tempeh you have ever eaten, please don’t give up if you fail a few times once you get it down pat you will be rite, I make a batch every month.
You will learn how many covers you need to get your stable temperature, I keep what I use for tempeh together so I pretty much get the temperature rite straight up with a bit of twigging depending on temperature in the room. I suggest you get a digital thermometer that has the little sensor and separate monitor so you can just tuck the sensor in with the tempeh and you don’t have to disturb it every time you want to check temp, it is much more relaxing just being able to glance at the monitor!
Well it is as easy as that really I can’t believe I’ve been a vegan cook and a vegan (not now) all these years and just learnt how to make tempeh!!!!
But as I always say, better later then never rite! I really hope this motivates you to give it a go! 🙂