Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Not just fuzzy soybeans... tempeh!

Okay, okay. So I know you were expecting more muffins (and they're coming up soon!), but I couldn't wait to share my latest culturing adventure.


Before you run away screaming, these extremely moldy soybeans are actually intentionally so - they were inoculated with isolated spores and incubated under specific conditions to promote only the desired kind of fungal growth. It may look fuzzier than what you're used to, but it's... tempeh!


Culturing tempeh (specifically, growing the fungal mold Rhizopus oligosporus on soybeans) is an art and tradition dating back several hundred years with origins in Indonesia. The tempeh we eat today is likely the result of innumerable iterations of trial and error - and many very very moldy soybeans have made the well-known (and safe!) procedure for producing tempeh possible today. By taking advantage of unique microbial relationships, tempeh transforms soybeans into a more digestible, highly nutritious, and extremely delicious food product!


Though it's easy enough to get tempeh at a grocery store (our coop sells 2 lbs blocks for around $7), it's always fun to go back to the source and try and make your own. Especially if it means working with live cultures (and growing mold on purpose!). :)

I grew my tempeh using a powdered tempeh starter ordered from GEM Cultures in Washington, following the directions from this website.


I soaked my soybeans overnight, cooked, dehulled, cooked some more, cooled, dried, added vinegar, and inoculated them according to the site's recommendations. To incubate my tempeh, I put the inoculated soybeans in baking pans covered with saran wrap (with holes punctured to allow air flow). I decided to keep them (on a towel) in my oven that has a pilot light constantly on, with the door open so that the temperature wasn't too hot.

After about 36 hours, they had changed from soybeans to this delightful fuzziness.


I sliced 'em up and stored them in my fridge - though when I've made tempeh in the past I froze it so that it would keep longer (the website recommends steaming the tempeh strips and then freezing them).

We cooked them up with soy sauce and sesame oil, and enjoyed them in stir fries and summer rolls. Yummmm!

So give it a try! Grow and cook some tempeh of your own! :)


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey dear Vegans, I got try this one, thanks so much for sharing!!!

Ariel said...

Definitely do, and let us know how it works out! Thanks for checking out the blarg! :)

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