This is kinda the ultimate vegan recipe because it yields 4 ingredients, with which you can make a multitude of dishes. The first portion of the recipe consists of making soy milk, from which you will have a bi-product called okara, the solids extracted from the liquid soy milk. Next you’ll make the tofu by coagulating the soy milk. This step creates curds and whey. The curds are the solids, which will be pressed into tofu, and the whey is the liquid, which can also be used in numerous dishes. So, you’ll be getting 4 awesome ingredients for the mere cost of a pound of dried soy beans and some sort of coagulant. I know that making your own tofu seems like an awful lot of work, but its really not. It definitely takes time, but most of it is inactive anyway. Yeah, you could just go buy your own, but homemade tofu tastes REALLY good. It has a creamier texture and sweeter flavor. Plus, you’ll be spending less money and using far less resources. I always feel really good knowing that I can make stuff like this from scratch, relying less on store-bought products. C’mon…you know you’re all gonna need skillz like these to survive the zombie apocalypse!
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3 cups dried soybeans
2 tbsp liquid Nigari *
Tools you’ll need:
Large bowl to soak soybean in
Food processor or strong blender
Large stock pot
Wooden spatula or spoon
Container to mold the tofu in **
Cheesecloth (I prefer the reusable kind)
Small piece of cardboard that you can cut into the shape of the top (opening) of the tofu mold
Things to weigh the tofu down (I used a glass jar filled with more soybeans and a large pot that I flipped over and placed on top)
*Nigari is a coagulant, consisting of magnesium chloride extracted from sea water. You can find this in liquid or flake/powdered form and it is usually sold in specialty asian markets. For this recipe I used liquid. Alternative common coagulants used in tofu making are epsom salts, which you can buy super cheap at any grocery store, and lemon juice.
**I found these great containers at Crate & Barrel that are meant for berries, but are perfect for making tofu since they have the basic shape I want as well as holes along the bottom and sides of the container for drainage. For this recipe I used one container.
Step 1: Soak the soybeans. Place about 1 lb (3 cups) of dried soybeans into a large bowl and cover with water. The soybeans will expand so be sure to cover them with at least 1-2 inches. Cover and place in the fridge overnight. They should soak anywhere between 12 and 24 hrs.
Step 2: Strain the soybeans and place them into a food processor (or really good blender). You’ll probably need to do this in 2 or 3 batches so add about 2 cups or more of water with each batch of soybeans before blending. Transfer blended soybeans and water to a large stock pot. Add about 10 cups of water and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Be sure to stir often so that the mixture doesn’t burn on the bottom. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes. At this point the mixture should be pretty foamy on top, which is fine. Just make sure it doesn’t boil over. Remove from the heat and pour in an additional 2 cups of water. Stir to combine.
Step 3: Strain the cooked pureed soybeans through a sieve lined with cheese cloth. Once it’s cool enough to handle, squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible. The liquid is now officially soy milk! The leftover pulp inside of the cheese cloth is called Okara. Save this because it can be used in other recipes. Check out The Okara Project for some ideas.
Step 4: Return the soy milk to a large pot. Heat to about 180 degrees F. Turn off the heat. Combine 2 tbsp of nigari (or whatever coagulant you are using) with 1/2 cup water. Pour this into the heated soy milk and stir just once with a wooden spoon. The milk should start coagulating almost immediately. Remove the pot from the stove, cover and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes.
Step 5: Once the milk has coagulated enough, forming large globs (curd) which should be separating from the liquid (whey) then you are ready to press the tofu. Prepare your tofu mold by lining it with about 3 layers of cheese cloth. Set a cooling rack in your sink and place the tofu mold on top. This will allow excess liquid to drain out. Using a sieve, scoop out the curds and put them into the mold. I had enough curds to fill up a pint-sized mold. Strain the remaining whey (liquid) and save this! It’s great to use in place of water or other liquid in baking (bread, muffins, etc) or you could use it as a base for a soup, add it to a smoothie for protein, etc. It should taste fairly sweet. Check out the Livestrong website for some ideas on how to use soy whey.
Step 6: Once all of the curds are in your tofu mold, fold the cheese cloth on top, covering it so that the surface will still be flat. Place a piece of cardboard (that you’ve cut to the size of the container) on top of the cheese cloth. Weigh this down with a container filled with dried beans, pie weights, water, etc. Don’t overload this with weight initially. You’ll need to press out some water to start firming up the tofu before you can really add more weight to make it extra firm. Gradually add more weight as the tofu comes together. I inverted a large pot and placed it over my container of beans. I placed more weight on top of that. I let the tofu sit like this for about 40 minutes or so. Once it has reached the desired firmness, remove it from the mold.
Step 7: Since adding a coagulant such as nigari can often make the tofu taste a little bitter, you may want to soak the tofu in cold water, rinsing a few times before storing in the fridge. Fresh tofu is best eaten the day of, but you could store it for a few days before eating. Just put it into a container of water and cover it to keep it fresh.