How to Make Tofu

(not what you were looking for? click here for Vegan Tofu Recipes)

Table of Contents

Ingredients – Japanese names and chemical compound name in parentheses

  • Blender
  • Cheeseclothes
  • Juicer – You don't need it but it would be extremely time and labor saving.
  • Molds (top cut milk carton with holes works fine)
  • Press (if you don't have a press, make from household items, like rolled up newspaper wrapped in plastic wrap)
  • Weights (plates, brick, etc.)
  • Cooking thermometer

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Cooking Direction

Soak the soy beans in water overnight (8 to 12 hours). Be sure to use enough water so the beans can double in size.

Prepare the molds using one milk carton per mold (you can use cheese molds if you have them). Cut off one side of the carton, and punch numerous holes in the sides and bottom to allow liquid to escape. Reinforce the molds by using a pair of longs sticks (one on each side) holding them together with rubber bands on the ends.

You should have one piece of cheesecloth per mold which should be big enough to fit squarely into the mold and cover the tofu inside.

The next day, pour out the water, and pulverize the beans in a blender using enough water to cover the beans (you will probably need to do this in four to five batches). Place a piece of cheesecloth in a colander, and pour the liquid through it into a large bowel. You can do this process much faster with a juicer by the way. Here is one demonstration how it is done. You can also boil the bean first then blend it.

The liquid that passes through is called soy milk and will become the tofu. The solid material that remains in the cheesecloth is called okara and is useful for various Oriental dishes.

Bring the soy milk to a low boil and lower the temperature, skimming off any foam that collects on the top. Boil for 20-30 min. stirring (and skimming) constantly. While it is boiling, dissolve the bittern (the leftover "stuff" that is formed when you extract salt from seawater) in a small quantity of water.

For each of the molds, fit the cheesecloth squarely into the corners. When the temperature of the soy milk cools to 70C (158F) pour in the bittern and stir gently. When the tofu starts to separate from the water (almost immediately), pour the mixture into the molds and cover with cheesecloth.

Next, place the plastic wrap covered newspapers on top of the tofu (it should fit squarely) and place weights on top to press out the liquid. After about 30 min., remove the tofu from the molds. This should be done under water in a large pot or tub. Store the tofu submerged in water.

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Tofu, Bittern (= Nigari), and Lemon

Bittern is the bitter liquid remaining after common salt has been crystallized out of sea water and is source of magnesium, bromine, iodine, and other compounds. To make tofu, the edible calcium sulfate should be used, instead of the industrial one.

The edible calcium sulfate is used as a kind of Chinese medicine and is available in Chinese drug stores, Chinese shops, other online stores, or Japanese and Korean stores may carry them as well.

Calcium sulfate is also called Fibrosum or Gypsum in academic field. Anhydrous calcium sulfate contains CaSO4, while hydrous calcium sulfate contains CaSO4.2H2O and is semi-transparent. If only hydrous calcium sulfate is available, you may fry it in a pan or heat it in a microwave to get rid of the water to make it anhydrous.

If calcium sulfate is not available, lemon juice can be used. 250ml lemon juice is needed for 500 to 600g dry soybeans. However, using calcium sulfate is easier to make tofu. If lemon juice is used, one should wait until the cooked soymilk cools down to 40 °C (104 °F ).

Then quickly pour the soymilk into the bucket that contains 250ml lemon juice. Very important: Do not move or stir the mixture at all. Let the mixture set for 5 minutes to coagulate into soya pudding, then continue to follow next step in the directions.

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Soy Milk

People say most laborious and time consuming part of making tofu is process of milking out cooked soy. So some people get soy milk maker. For people who live in rural area where tofu is hard to come by, and want to become a vegan, it is a good idea. You can also make rice milk, almond milk, oat milk, potato milk, etc. with soy milk maker. The best soy milk maker I found so far is Soyapower Plus.

Or you can use juicer to make milking out process more efficient and labor saving.

How to make tofu at home

Video – How to make soy milk with a juicer

How tofu is made in mass production - from discovery channel

Soyapower Plus Soy Milk Maker

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