About a year ago I was browsing reddit and some blogs and I kept stumbling across people talking about making tofu. They all seemed to love making it were saying that, "It's so easy, there is no reason to buy it." Ever since then I have had it on the back burner to make my own tofu sometime.
I eat tofu pretty regularly. Probably 1 dish every other week. In my journey to going zero waste, I decided I wanted to learn to make my own tofu. Even though buying tofu is already affordable making your own tofu is even more affordable, more environmentally friendly, and extra nutricious then buying it from the store. Not to mention, it's pretty fun.
This blog post is meant to take all of my research I have done online on this topic and put it into 1 post for you to enjoy 😄.
Here are some pictures from me making my own tofu for the first time.
Spending my evening making tofu from scratch. All the way from soybean to soy milk to tofu.— Levi Bostian (@levibostian) March 12, 2018
To sum it up you pretty much heat up water and soybeans to boil, do something to the mixture, repeat. An hour later you have tofu! pic.twitter.com/lkVhgL6An0
Just about done! Here is 1 picture of the curdled soy milk and the other photo is me draining water from the curds using a cheese cloth. pic.twitter.com/lkokXnEnSR— Levi Bostian (@levibostian) March 12, 2018
Wow. I just made tofu. How cool is that?! 😁 I can't wait to try some! pic.twitter.com/LdYKUwdBHJ— Levi Bostian (@levibostian) March 12, 2018
Why make tofu?
Making your own tofu is a fun experience that saves some money, gives you lots of protein and fiber, and limits your food packaging waste.
Over the past few months, I have been really watching my plastic use including but not limited to my grocery shopping. To do this, I buy bulk ingredients in my own jar containers I bring to the store, I take reuseable produce bags to the store for my fruits and veggies, and I make homemade foods to replace foods I would otherwise buy pre-made and pre-packaged. I make my own homemade noodles, breads, pasta sauce, saurkraut, and a few more foods that we would normally buy pre-packaged. Each time that I buy something that comes pre-packaged I think to myself, "Can I substitute this? Can I go without this (drink water or tea instead of soda)? Can I make this instead of buying it pre-packaged?". Tofu was next on my list. I do not enjoy buying a block of tofu from the store when it comes in a tray of plastic.
Along with the environmental impact, making your own tofu is cheap. I purchased 5lbs of soybeans in bulk from my food co-op a few months ago for $12. I only used 1 3/4 cups of soybeans in the recipe to make 2 blocks of tofu I would usually buy at the store for $3 a piece. When you make tofu, you not only get 2 blocks of tofu, but you also get okara, a by product of making tofu that I will get into more below. So, you're not only getting some tofu, you are getting breads, crackers, deserts, or whatever else you wish to make from your protein and fiber heavy okara! What a steal!
Making your own tofu requires less then 1 hour of your time and is fun to make. At this time I am pretty new to it, but I feel quite accomplished after I am done making it. I suggest you give it a try!
What you need to make tofu
It's pretty simple. This is all you need:
- Soymilk. You can buy it already made or you can buy soybeans and make your own homemade soymilk. I will over both of these methods below.
- Cheese cloth. You can find this easily online or at some grocery stores and kitchen supply stores. I bought mine from my local food co-op.
- A stove top pot for boiling the soybeans.
- A blender or food processor if you plan to make your own soymilk. If you are buying already made soymilk, you do not need this.
- One of the following: Liquid nigari, powdered nigari, or gypsum. Pick up one of these ingredients which is used to curdle the soymilk and turn it into tofu. I found gypsum at my local vietnamese grocery store for about $1. I told one of the workers I was looking for a powder used to make tofu and they walked me over to the ingredient in the overwhelming big shelf full of different spices and mixes. Any asian grocery store should have it.
- A jar and container to put the tofu and okara in.
Methods of making tofu
From my research, I learned there are 3 different methods you can use to make your own tofu. There are pros and cons to each I would like to go over. I have only used 1 of the methods below, but I imagine they all have the same result.
Tofu is essentially curdled soymilk. You either buy or make your own soymilk, heat it up, add a powder to the soymilk which causes it to curdle into tofu. In short, that is the process. So from the 3 processes I am outlining below, they are all different ways to perform this task: curdle soymilk.
Store bought soymilk method
This method takes the least amount of time and is the most convenient because instead of making your own soymilk you simply buy it already made from the grocery store.
- Fastest method. Cuts the tofu making process in half (about 15-20 minutes less time).
- Not the most economic. Store bought soymilk is more expensive then buying soybeans and making your own soymilk.
- Not most environmentally friendly. Because you are buying soymilk in a container that has to travel by truck from the factory to your fridge, this method is not as environmentally friendly. Especially for me where I live in the Midwest of the United States where soybeans are grown locally.
- You miss out on okara, the by product of making tofu. Okara is essentally blended up soybeans which can be used to make crackers, breads, veggie burgers, and deserts for a high protein and fiber flour alternative. Great way to get more for your money and some good nutrients.
- Even though you can cut some time in your tofu making process, you don't cut anything else. You still need all the same equipment as you normally would as making your own soymilk.
I have not used this recipe before, but it should work just fine. Check out this recipe here I found on how to make tofu from soymilk.
This method of creating tofu involves buying your own raw soybeans and creating homemade soymilk using a soymilk machine such as one like this:
- Quick, convenient. I have never used a soymilk machine before, but I imagine it's a pretty handy machine to creating soymilk with the push of a button.
- You get the okara by product from making tofu that you can use to make crackers, breads, and deserts high in protein and fiber (I cover okara more in this post below).
- More environmentally friendly over buying store bought soymilk. You make it yourself instead! (Bonus points: Plant and grow your own soybeans to be even more enviornmentally friendly!)
- You have to buy a $130 machine.
- More time then buying premade soymilk from the store.
I have not used this recipe before, but it should work. Check out this recipe here I found on how to make tofu from soymilk once your machine makes it for you.
Blender and stove top method (my method)
This method of making tofu is the cheapest, most economical, most environmentally friendly, healthiest method of creating tofu. However, it takes more time to produce (about 15-20 minutes more time).
In this method, you will take raw soybeans, create your own soymilk using a blender/food processor and a stove top pot.
- Most econimical. Save the most money to get more bang for your buck.
- More environmentally friendly over buying store bought soymilk. You make it yourself instead. (Bonus points: Plant and grow your own soybeans to be even more enviornmentally friendly!)
- You get the okara by product from making tofu that you can use to make crackers, breads, and deserts high in protein and fiber (I go over okara more below in this post).
- Minimalist. You don't need to buy any special equipment to use as you would need to do if you bought a soymilk machine. All you need is a cheese cloth and strainer.
- Most time consuming method as you need to make your own soymilk. This adds about 15-20 minutes to the total tofu making time.
- Most complex method compared to using already made soymilk or a machine that makes soymilk for you with a push of a button. Making soymilk is not hard, but it does take time.
Okara. What should I do with it?
When you make your own soymilk from soybeans, you get this by product called okara. It's ground up soybeans and looks like this:
At this time, I do not have much experience with it. However, a quick Google search for "okara tofu" you get lots and lots of chatter about it. As it turns out, okara is a fiber and protein loaded food you can use as flour in breads and deserts, you can create crackers like taste like Wheat Thins, veggie burger patties, and other recipes as well.
Here are some recipe resources I have found:
- The Okara Project,
- soyburgers, raisin cookies, no-meat sausage, corn bread, apple upside down cake.
- Brown sugar biscotti
Wheat Thins recipe I found online in a blog comment.
I have to admit, I am not very experienced with okara yet. Give it some time and I will get there 😄.
I hope you give tofu making a try sometime. It's a fun, cheap, environmentally friendly way to make and enjoy tofu.
Give it a try and send me a picture when you make your first batch.