Tempeh, making it

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Master Chef
Mar 25, 2008
A standard recipe for making tempeh would be, 2 cups of dried soybeans, soaked 24 hours, rub off the hull and split the beans. Cook boiling for 1 hour, let cool. Add 2 T white vinegar (or pasteurized vinegar). Mix well. Make sure the beans are air dry, no shiny spots of moisture on them. Dry with a hair dryer if needed. Add mold starter and mix well. Put in zip lock quart bags with holes punched every inch or centimeter. Incubate at 83-95 deg F for 24-48 hours. I put mine on top of dish clothes on top of the dehydrator (excalibur) while it is set at 95. Three thermometers around the tempeh to monitor the temperatures. I cover them with more dish clothes to hold the temperature steady.

This is the first batch, (chick peas and wheat and rye berries slightly broken in the food processor) beautiful on one side, but not on the other side, and this is the batch that used active vinegar-Don't do that again. I scraped the white mold for starter and had to throw away the 'sour' batch. Sour from the active vinegar.

The second and third batch. I mostly liked the hand hulled and split beans. That batch stuck together the best.
2nd batch was hand hulled soy beans on the left, the 3rd was broken up hulled soy beans on the right.


I trimmed the edge to keep to dry for starter, then sliced and cooked it.


I cooked the tempeh in water/soy sauce/garlic and onion powder. I cook it until the liquid is gone, about 20 minutes. I would describe the taste as smooth, nutty, and a little cheezy (which surprised me). I really liked it. I liked it better than store bought, which in comparison, even when cooked the same way was less flavorful. I refrigerated some to eat and froze the rest.

I have a 4th batch of black and white beans going. They may be TOO cooked to get a good tempeh, too soft, we'll see when they are done. The 'just cooked' and still firm soybeans seemed to be the best texture. Future batches will use 'just cooked' and still firm beans, whichever kinds I try.

Whatever kind of grain or bean used, must have thick skins or hulls broken or removed. I was thinking these black and white beans are pretty broken so should work.

The 4th batch of black and white beans have white mold forming! This is the first batch I'm doing with my own starter and it's working! I was worried that my starter might not be strong enough to grow but it seems fine.

I have more starter drying from the tempeh from yesterday too. Once dry I just grind it in the coffee grinder into a powder. I will keep this in the refrigerator.

This is mold on the 4th batch this morning.


Most of the tempeh smells nutty or earthy or mushroom-y. At the end their might be a slight whiff of ammonia which is okay, but if it is strong, throw it out. I smelled the slight whiff of ammonia in the soybean tempeh, but that was gone after refrigeration and after cooking.
You got me thinking about this again, @blissful! It's been years since I made any tempeh, when a friend of mine was still living in the area, and we were always tinkering with odd foods! The stuff we did was white soybean, with a culture, and it came out sort of like a mushroom flavor, which is why we both liked it. Your mention of the chick peas gave me an idea - since these things always call for soaking, then rubbing the hulls off, and splitting, which is the PITA, why not use chana dal, which are just a type of chickpea, that this has already been done to! And next time I go to the Indian market, I'll have to see if they actually have soybeans, that this has been done to - soybeans aren't very common in India, but they are found in some areas.

I remember the temperature I tried to keep it at I achieved on my griddle, with the 4 pilot lights under it. I put a tray, on several layers of towels, until I get the temperature I need, and it would stay fairly close. The Instant Pot also has a mode, in "YOGURT" that in newer varieties can be set to a specific temperature, and in my old model has the lowest temp mode that keeps it around 90°, ± a degree or two, though I haven't tried this yet.
I've done soybeans dozens of times, never tried any other beans ( yet). You've definitely taken t to the next level. For a snack I like cutting into sticks, fry in oil, then drizzle a little soy sauce on them. Thats the way I was introduced to tempeh ( 40 + years ago) and I still love . I also cut into 2 X 3 squares, fry then baste with BBQ sauce, bake on a low heat - BBQ Tempeh. I've recently been trying a bunch of new Indonesian dishes. Tempeh Kekap (Tempeh n a sweet soy sauce) and Indonesian Sambal Goreng Tempeh (Tempeh with strignbeans ).
@pepperhead212 we seem to be approaching a christmas miracle here. I was looking through FB market place for an instapot of some kind. I was hoping for $30 or less so I set those parameters.
I don't have an air fryer or instapot or pressure cooker (canner yes but it's huge).
For $28....I found the ninja foodie 8 qt 12 in 1, dehydrator, air fryer, and instapot. On amazon it is $219 currently. AS you said it has a yogurt setting and low temperature setting for yogurt (in the dehydrator part), but I could do tempeh in it as well.(I think.) (making natto might be in my future)
We're supposed to pick it up tomorrow at 11:30. If it goes without a hitch, then it is a christmas miracle. I am over the top thrilled to find this.
I did get the ninja foodie 12 in 1 8 qt, wow. I'm so happy. Now I just have to learn to use it! It's a miracle and a christmas gift to myself!

I left the black and white bean tempeh incubate for 60 hours. It smells good. I'm refrigerating it, I'll cook it later and freeze it.

@pepperhead212 Last night I looked up indian groceries and found 2 near the shopping area we go to. Since today is shopping day, we looked up maps and made directions for mr bliss to find them and look for chana dal.
Well, he couldn't find them-the stores. So I will try to try the chana dal, when I can get out to those stores. Hopefully I can find them.
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Some of the tempeh sources say the temperature needs to be between 80 and 87 deg F. I guess I've let mine run hotter, on top of the dehydrator, but they are turning out.

I'm testing the dehydrating at a temperature in the ninja foodie. It allows temperatures in 5 degree increments. I tried 85 and it works. It allows 12 hours then it turns off. I'd reset it every 12 hours, which is not a problem since I tend to check things often. {edited to add: many sources say that after 12 to 24 hours the tempeh generates its own heat and shows moisture and doesn't need to be heated, just covered to conserve its own heat} It is so QUIET, even compared to the excalibur dehydrator. I love that.
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Ninja FD401 Foodi 12-in-1 Deluxe XL 8 qt. Pressure Cooker & Air Fryer that Steams, Slow Cooks, Sears, Sautés, Dehydrates & More, with 5 qt. Crisper Basket, Reversible Rack & Recipe Book, Silver ($219 amazon)​

I'm sure you'll get a bunch of use out of that, @blissful! And you'll find unusual things, like the tempeh, and things like when I use it to germinate those tropical seeds. That's great you can set an exact temperature.
I did another big batch of soybeans for tempeh, in the foodi for fermenting. The top ran too hot, so the 2 packages on top weren't done as well as the two on the bottom. So I could use it, if I keep them away from the top fan.
After the tempeh was done I made starter from some and cooked the rest, froze it for eating when we need it.
I'm looking forward to anyone else that makes some. The hardest part is getting the beans partially cooked with the right texture and yet dry on the outside before beginning the fermenting part.
I decided to try making natto. I made a batch using spearmint stems because I didn't have starter. It was a little slippery and not stringy or sticky, had a fermented odor. I ate most of that batch is was O-K.

I ordered some starter and made a batch starting 2 days ago.
4 cups soybeans soaked overnight.
Using only sterilized equipment, drained it and then put fresh water in the IP covering the beans plus 2 inches, cooked on pressure LO for 30 minutes and warm for 40 minutes, release pressure. (I've done it on HI, but that is too soft for my taste.)
Then put it in a metal bowl that will fit in the IP.
Mix one envelope of starter with sterilized hot water 120 deg F 1/2 cup.
Pour that over the beans and stir the beans.
Cover with foil, punch holes in the foil for air.
Set the IP on dehydrate at 80 deg F-the thermometer read about 107 deg F the entire time, for 24 hours.

The beans on top were darker (drier) and had a white film from the fermentation. It had a slight whiff of ammonia (slightly over fermented like camembert), sticky, slippery, stringy, perfect.
I put that in the fridge and freezer to develop more flavor.

Once refrigerated the ammonia scent is gone. It's good!
Next time I'll start sniffing it at 20 hours and again at 22 hours and stop the fermentation a tiny bit earlier but my recipe is a success. Yay.
Natto again. I made soybeans in the IP, 32 minutes on low, 45 minutes on warm, drain. Mixed some natto started 1/4 tsp with 1 cups of boiled cooled water, mixed it into the beans back in the IP pot. Now 24 hours at 100 deg F. I set it on dehydrate at 80 deg F but it is just a little over 100 deg F when I measure it. I covered the beans in plastic then foil to keep the plastic down, putting the thermometer on top. They'll be done at 1ish tomorrow. I'll freeze it in 1 pint containers.
I'm out of tempeh. I need to make a big batch of that soon.

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