Have you ever had the desire to make tofu at home? Are you a home cook who enjoys making things from scratch that most people buy off the grocer’s shelf?
Then homemade tofu is something you’ll want to put on your to-do list right now. If not for the nuanced flavor of homemade, then for the experience itself.
Freshly made tofu is creamy, sweet, and deliciously healthy. There’s no reason not to try.
Keep reading to learn how to make tofu at home. It’s not as hard as you think!
A Quick History of Tofu
Tofu, often referred to as bean curd, is a soybean product. And like many soy-based foods, tofu’s roots date back several millennia to China.
As with many foods we enjoy today, folklore claims the first tofu was a culinary accident.
A renowned chef (sometime around 2,000 years ago) added seaweed to a batch of soy milk. The soy milk curdled. The fact that the curdled milk didn’t give off a rancid scent piqued the chef’s interest. His taste test revealed a delicate, silky texture with a slight floral flavor. Further experiments eventually led to the blocked tofu you know and love today.
Tofu was not introduced to the American diet until the 1960s. But once people discovered its nutritional benefits, it soon became a staple of healthful eating.
The nutritional profile of tofu includes:
- Excellent source of protein
- Contains 8 essential amino acids
- Rich in Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin k (potassium), Vitamin C, riboflavin, and Vitamin B6
- Contains important minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and zinc
- Has 28% DV (daily value) of Omega-3 fatty acids
- Is low-calorie and almost fat-free
This is why it’s been a staple in Chineses and Japanese dishes for centuries, and why it should be a staple in your kitchen.
Ingredients for Homemade Tofu
The ingredient list for tofu is simple. You only need two ingredients: soy milk and a coagulant.
However, there are a few things you should know about those two ingredients.
The majority of expert chefs discourage the use of store-bought soy milk. the various additives and flavorings won’t give you the consistency you’re looking for. Instead, they recommend that you make your own soy milk.
Don’t worry. This is as easy as soaking beans. Literally.
To make your own soy milk pour a one pound bag of Laura Soybeans into a large bowl. Cover it with a good amount of cold water and soak overnight. The following day, drain and rinse.
Add the Laura soybeans to a food processor or blender. The beans should be soft and easy to chew. (Do this in batches if you need to).
Add 6-8 cups of water (depending on the consistency you desire) and blend until creamy. Voila! Homemade soy milk.
A coagulant is what curdles the milk.
Remember our world-renowned chef from earlier? The seaweed (coagulant) he added was Nigari seaweed. Nigari, also known as magnesium chloride, is one of the suggested coagulants for your homemade tofu.
Gypsum (calcium sulfate) and Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) are two others highly recommended. Don’t be nervous about the name–coagulants are a harmless ingredient. After all, if you’ve eaten sushi, you’ve eaten seaweed.
Now that you have your ingredients, are you ready to make some tofu?
Let’s do it!
How to Make Tofu at Home
If you’ve ever made (or watched someone make) cheese, the same principles apply when you make tofu at home.
Using a large pot (we suggest a 4-6 quart pot) bring your soy milk to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat so the milk is just above a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remeber to scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching. Skim off any skin that forms.
Place a large sieve over an appropriately sized bowl. Line the sieve with cheesecloth.
Slowly pour the milk into the sieve. Let the product sit to cool — about 20 minutes or until it’s cool enough to handle.
Bunching and twisting the cheesecloth, squeeze to release as much of the remaining soy milk as possible. Squeeze until the solids are almost dry. Discard the solids. You should have 4-6 cups of soy milk.
Dissolve your chosen coagulant in water. Use 1/2 cup of water for every one tablespoon of the coagulant. Make sure this is prepared before you do the next step.
Bring your homemade, organic soy milk back to the stove. In a pot, bring it to a simmer. Simmer for about five minutes (again making sure not to let it scorch). You want a nice warm soy milk.
Take the soymilk off the heat. Slowly add the dissolved coagulant into the war soy milk. Stir vigorously.
Tip: by adding the coagulant in stages, your bean curd will be more fluffy.
Cover the pot and allow the soy to sit undisturbed. Let sit about 15 minutes.
Now you should have a pot filled with whey. Your whey should have a pale yellow color and curds.
Once again, you need to drain the product of liquid.
Either strain using a slotted ladle or use the cheesecloth method above. If you use the ladle, you’ll need to add the curds to a sieve to allow liquid to release.
Transfer your curds into a square or rectangular mold. Cover the mold with several layers of cheesecloth. Add some sort of weight to the top of the mold to press the curds down.
Let this sit for 15-25 minutes. For firmer tofu allow the mold to sit for 5-10 minutes longer.
Once your tofu is molded into a solid, firm block, place it in the refrigerator to chill. This makes it easy to cut.
Of course, if you can’t wait, feel free to sample some!
When the tofu is firm enough, cut it into cubes.
And then . . . enjoy! Fry it, bake it, add it to a salad. Pour a simple syrup on it as a delicious dessert.
We hope you’ve found this tofu tutorial helpful. And we hope you’ve been encouraged to make tofu at home.
For more delicious soy recipes, make sure to visit our blog regularly. And if you have any favorite tofu recipes, make sure to share them.