Category Archives: Tempeh & Other Cultures

Knowledge on tempeh fermentation and information on other less-known culture starters, like Tapai – a fermented rice cake culture.

How to Make Koji-Kin Rice From Koji Spores

Use for Amasaké, Saké, Light Misos, or Japanese Pickles

Making your own fresh koji rice is not complicated if you have the correct tools and utensils on hand.  Some equipment listed will make the process easy for someone with culturing experience.  Making koji rice may not be the best culture for someone
new to fermentation or culturing..

What is needed…

  • A large bowl or pot for soaking 6 cups (1420ml) of sushi style rice
  • A sieve or colander for draining the rice
  • Wooden (traditional) or metal spoon to stir the rice
  • A large cooking pot for steaming the rice.  Also, a modified bowl and a bamboo or metal vegetable steamer (See photos)

    Tools for making koji at home
    Items for steaming sushi/polished rice
  • Pans or trays for inoculating the steamed rice
  • Heating mats/incubator with temperature control or a food dehydrator
  • Flour sacks material or cloth for holding the steaming rice.  No cheesecloth.
  • Towels for covering the inoculating rice

Ingredients…

  • 6 cup (1420gr) polished sushi rice (Plain white or brown rice will not produce the same results)
  • ¼ cup (237gr) white rice flour or fresh grind from sushi rice
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) koji spore starter

Fermentation Time:
24 to 48 hrs
Incubation Temperature:
85 F (30 C)

How to Make Koji Rice…
Let’s Us Get Started…

Step1:  The first step is to rinse and soak the sushi rice for 6 hours or more.  Time this to end at the point you wish to start steaming the rice.  Rinse the 6 cups of rice several times in fresh cold water until the water runs clear.  This will take around 3 to 6 washes.
Soaking sushi/polished rice  Rinsing is very important to remove the starch from the rice kernels.  If not removed, the finished steamed rice can stick together and makes complete inoculation difficult.

  After rinsing, cover the rice with 2” or 50mm of water and soak the rice in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours.  We soak ours overnight. 
Note:
  If allowed to soak more than 10 hours will make the rice soft and may affect the inoculation process.

Step 2:  After soaking, drain the rice in a colander to remove excess water.  Removing the extra water between towels will also work.  This step aids in keeping the cooked rice lump free.  Once ‘dry’ place the rice in the pan setup.  The setup includes the large cooking pot, a bamboo or metal steamer, and the modified bowl that will fit into the bottom of the pot.  Add two inches of water to cover the bottom of the pot, but does not touch the steamer.
Steam koji rice setup 01steaming koji rice 02

 

 
Line the steamer with the cloth and add the soaked rice.  Press the rice out to the sides so the steam will go through the rice and not around it.
We find that making a hole in the center of the rice helps in correct steaming.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil.  When the steam rises through the rice (not just up the sides), time the steaming rice for 50 minutes.  Watch to make sure the water does not boil dry.  Add additional water by pulling rice bundle to one side and pouring the water down the side of the pot.  About halfway through the process you may wish to turn the rice so the bottom will not over steam. 
Note:
Do not poor the water on the rice. 

CAUTION: Steam is very hot, so use utensils to avoid injury and safety.
Steaming sushi ricesteaming sushi rice

 

 

 

Step 3: As the rice is steaming, prepare the koji spore starter for inoculation.  Start by heating a dry skillet and lightly toast the rice flour to sanitize it.  Not not burn the rice flour.  Cover skillet and place in the refrigerator until cooled to room temperature.  Once cooled, add the koji spores and mix well with clean spoon.  Expel the air from the spore starter bag and reseal.  Spores are very small and adding them to rice flour helps in even distribution of the spores.  At this time, clean your work area, too.  Wash and sanitize the trays for inoculation.
Prepping the rice flour mixture Step 4: After steaming for 50 minutes, the steamed rice will look like a hot rubbery lump.  You may check to see if the rice is ready by taking a small sample and tasting it.  Properly cooked rice will have a rubbery feel and taste, the colour is somewhat clear.  Rice should not be hard (under cooked) or soft like boiled rice (overcooked). 

Steamed rice ready for koji spores  NOTE: Over cooking of the rice will not produce the desired finished product, as the spores cannot encapsulate each grain of rice.  Most important is that the rice grains are whole and not broken by over cooking/steaming.  The trick is to have enough moisture within the rice grains for the koji mold to form, yet not overcooked to the point that the rice will start decomposing.

Remove the rice from the steamer and place in the incubation trays.  Use a wooden spoon or rice paddle to brake up any clumps in the rice and create a uniform overall moistness and spread evenly in pan or tray.  Cool to a temperature between 113 F (45 C) to 80 F (30 C).

Polished steamed rice ready for inoculation

Once cooled, the freshly steamed rice is ready for inoculation.  Use the previously prepared spore and flour mixture for this purpose.  Sprinkle half the starter-flour mixture over the cooled rice and mix thoroughly.  Again, spread out the cooled rice, add the second half of the starter-flour mixture, and mix well.  Now cover the trays/pans with the cover or use plastic wrap and place tray(s) in the incubator or on the heating mat.  Sometimes an oven with the light on will produce the required heat.  Incubate at a temperature of about 90 F (35 C). 
Note: It is important to get the koji mold actively working before unwanted bacteria can take hold.  It is also fine to add extra spore starter, which will speed up the culturing time.

Step 5:  Throughout the day, every 2 to 4 hours, check the internal temperature of the rice koji.  Should hold temperature at 81-96F (27-35C).  This temperature range is optimal for the development of enzymes necessary to make sweet cultured foods like amazaké and make sugars available for saké yeast.  Temperatures higher than this will not ruin the koji for miso making, however, prolonged overheating will kill the koji mold and unwanted bacteria may take over.  Once the temperature is checked, make necessary adjustments to the incubator.

After 24 to 48 hours at 85F (30C):  Wash your hands and open the trays.  There should be a faintly yeasty smell with a sweet fragrance of mushrooms.  The grains should start to show white, fluffy signs of mold growing.  If the koji rice is not fully cultured, mix the koji and allow incubating several more hours.

Inoculating koji rice

Note:  As the koji rice ferments, it will produce heat from fermentation so decreasing the incubator temperature will be needed.  To allow better heat distribution, run furrows one inch deep and two inches apart.

Replace the lids and place back into incubator or on heating mats.  Make sure lids are tight to keep in moisture.  If the rice becomes to dry fermentation will decrease or stop altogether.  Adding a damp cloth over the trays can help if more moisture is needed.
The internal temperature should not drop below 77 F(25 C) nor go above 104 F(40 C) for very long.  If the rice is over heating, stir the koji rice mixture, level off and replace furrows.  Cover and place into the incubator and adjust temperature.

Step 6:  Keep checking the temperature about every 4 hours and stir koji rice at this point.  Level off, replace furrows, and cover.  Keep incubating the koji rice mixture, until rice grains are about 70 to 80% encapsulated.  Check this by breaking some of the grains in half.  By now, the rice should have a chalk-like whiteness and a sweet taste.  Once mature, bring trays to room temperature and stir from time to time, until cooled.

Measure out the amount needed for immediate use.  Once cooled, package the koji-kin into airtight containers and place in refrigerator or freezer.  Dry the finished koji rice product for longest-term storage (Dry at a temperature below 85 deg F).

Fresh koji-kin rice will last about a month, dried and keep refrigerated 6 months, and dried and frozen will last up to a year.

See our koji recipe section for ideas on how to use your fresh koji in many traditional Japanese dishes.

Advanced Techniques

 Some have asked on how to make koji spores themselves.  If the finished koji-kin rice is left on it’s own, without drying, it will start to produce spores.  Koji spores are dark green in color, as pictured below.

Koji-kin rice going to sporesTray of Koji-Kin Spores

koji rice spore productionTray of Koji Close Up

  Once the spores are produced, the natural culturing cycle is complete.  The cultured rice is dried at a temperature of under 85 Deg F and then ground to a powder.  The only problem arises from doing this yourself, is that of quality and purity controls.  Because the spores are produced in a home environment vs. a lab the chance of contamination by other molds and/or bacteria is high.  We do not produce any spores at our Culture Bank.  We buy our tane-koji and kin-koji spores direct from Japan! 

Happy Culturing… Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods

Spore selections from our store:
15gr Koji-Kin Spores    ‘EM’ Tane-Kin 454gr Packet
Tane-Koji Spore Packet 20gr

How to make Natto…Natto Kin Spores

 

How to Make Natto…Natto Kin From Spores

Natto kin ready to eat

What is Natto?

Nattō (なっとう or 納豆?) is a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis var. natto.  Some eat it as a breakfast food.  Nattō may be an acquired taste because of its powerful smell, strong flavor, and slimy texture.  In Japan, nattō is most popular in the eastern regions, including Kantō, Tōhoku, and Hokkaido.

Before Making NATTO:

  • Be sure the entire processing area is cleaned for production.  Make sure all utensils, pots, cheesecloth (FUKIN), etc. are as sterile as possible.  (Boil utensils for 5 minutes prior to using.)
  • The packet of NATTO spores comes with a special small spoon; be sure to use the small spoon to measure the appropriate quantity for the recipe.
  • The fermentation process requires the NATTO be kept at approximately 100°F (37°C) degrees for 24 hours.  Ovens with a low temperature setting can be used, an oven w/ light on only, or inoculate in large cube-shaped food dehydrators.
  • NATTO is quite odorous while fermenting, and you may want to isolate the fermenting NATTO during this time.

Ingredients and Supplies
needed for Making NATTO:

  • 2 pounds (900g) soybeans (about 4 cups)
  • 10cc water, boiled for 5 to 10 minutes to sterilize
  • One spoonful (0.1 g.) NATTO-kin spores (use the special spoon that came with the packet)
  • Cheesecloth or butter muslin (FUKIN in Japanese)
  • Non-reactive pot (i.e., stainless steel, enameled, ceramics, etc.) or Pressure cooker
  • Large stainless steel, wood, or plastic spoon or spatula
  • 3-4 oven-proof glass containers with lids

Instructions for Making NATTO:

– Wash the soybeans using running water to gets rid of tiny dirt or dead skins off the beans.
Cooking the soy beans for natto– Soak with clean water for 9 to 12 hours (longer soaking time recommended during colder months). Be sure to use approximately 3 parts water and 1 part soybeans to allow for expansion. You will end up with 8 to 12 cups of beans.

soaking the soy beans over night

– Drain the beans from the soaking water. Place beans in a large pot with mesh bowl and pour in water. Steam it for 3-4 hours.
Or fill with water and boil 5-6 hours. 
The recommended way is to use a “Pressure cooker”, that can be cooked faster than in a normal pot. Please refer to the
pressure cooker instruction manual for operation guidelines.

steaming the soy beans for fermentation

– Drain the cooked beans and place in a sterilized pot. Dissolve 1/5 special spoonful of NATTO spores (0.1g) into 10cc of sterilized water.

preparing the natto spores

– Immediately pour the NATTO spore solution over the beans while the beans are still warm but not hot to the touch. Stir the beans and water mixture together carefully using a sterilized spoon/spatula.

mixing in the spore mixture

– Place a thin layer of beans in each of the 3 to 4 containers. If at any point during the process some beans are spilled on the counter, etc., discard the spilled beans as they can contaminate the other beans if added back in to the batch.

mixing the beans and spores

Place the sterilized cheese cloth over the top of the containers and place the tight-fitting lid over the cheese cloth. Preheat the oven, dehydrator, or KOTATSU Japanese Warmer to 100°F (37°C).  Place the covered containers in the oven, dehydrator, or warmer and allow the NATTO to ferment for 24 hours being sure to keep the temperature steady at 100°F (37°C).  Check the temperature throughout the day/night.

fermenting the soy bean mixtureAt the conclusion of the fermentation period, let the NATTO cool for a couple of hours, then remove the lid and the cloth, replace the lid, and store the containers in the
refrigerator at least overnight.

NATTO can also be aged
in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Smaller portions of finished NATTO can be stored in the freezer and thawed for later use.
Happy Culturing!

Looking for Fresh Natto spores?  Right from Japan?  We have connection for fresh spores(3g)…right here !

Happy Culturing !  Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods.

Benefits of Tempeh and Simple Recipes

Tempeh is a staple food of Indonesia, which is gaining popularity all around the world, for its distinct nutty taste and nougat-like texture. Tempeh starts by cooking soybeans, followed by inoculation using a culturing agent like Rhizopus oligosporus spores.

Tempeh in BBQ Sauce
~ Tempeh in BBQ Sauce ~

To finish the culturing process, incubation occurs overnight turning the soybeans into a solid white cake. Use the fermented tempeh cakes in a number of dishes, as a healthy meat alternative! Tempeh works great marinated in your favorite herbs and condiments.

Tempeh is a highly nutritious food rich in protein, which has been the traditional cuisine of Indonesia for more than 2000 years. Today, tempeh is a popular meat alternative for vegetarian and vegan cuisines. Because it is a low-fat and high-protein food, many vegetarians choose to include tempeh in their diet on a regular basis.

  Tempeh is extremely rich in protein, low fat, and contains fiber and vitamins. Now a common site in Co-ops and health food stores, it is easy to enjoy tempeh at anytime! Store bought tempeh is ready to cook and eat or one can make it much cheaper at home with pre-packaged spore starter and some basic equipment. Below are some health benefits of Tempeh.

Health Benefits of Eating Tempeh

  • Tempeh is a rich source of proteins. The proteins in tempeh have the additional benefit of lowering cholesterol level, unlike the protein from animal sources, which raise the cholesterol level of a person. Thus, tempeh is an excellent alternative to meat.
  • Tempeh contains magnesium, which plays a vital role in cardiovascular system and in more than 300 enzymatic reactions. Magnesium is also necessary for the reactions like the control of protein synthesis and energy production.
  • Tempeh may help in preventing heart diseases. It reduces the cholesterol level and hence, lowers the risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • Tempeh also raises the HDL cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol passes through the body and collects the cholesterols in the arteries to be disposed off by the liver. Tempeh can even lower LDL cholesterol levels, apart from raising HDL.
  • Tempeh, like other soy foods, is rich in dietary fiber, which binds fats and cholesterol and prevents their rapid absorption. In addition, the dietary fiber binds the bile salts and helps throw them out of the body. As it disposes the bile, liver is stimulated to convert more cholesterol into bile salts, thereby lowering the cholesterol level in the body considerably.
  • The fiber present in tempeh may assist in lowering the risk of colon cancer, by being able to bind to the cancer-causing toxins. It is also preventative against some other cancers, like breast cancer.
  • Tempeh is also helpful in treating menopausal symptoms. The isoflavones present in tempeh bind to the estrogen receptors and provide relief from the uncomfortable symptoms associated with the decline of natural estrogen. In addition, it may aid in reducing the bone loss that generally follows menopause.
  • Tempeh contains a good amount of the trace minerals, like manganese and copper. These minerals play an important role in numerous physiological functions.
  • Tempeh is an extremely healthy food for people suffering from diabetes.       Its natural properties that assist in lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels prove helpful for diabetic patients. Also, tempeh aids in lowering the triglyceride levels in diabetic patients.

Cooking Tips

  • Always cook the tempeh cakes to kill the active mold and/or spores.       Do not eat tempeh RAW.
  • Tempeh will take on the flavors of the marinade or recipe ingredients.       By itself, tempeh has a mild taste.
  • To make tempeh, you will need soy (soya) beans, few tablespoons of vinegar and tempeh spore starters like Rhizopus oryzae or Rhizopus oligosporus.
  • Soak the beans for 8-14 hours in water. De-hull the beans by hand and split the beans into two. Skim off the hulls and discard.
  • Make sure the beans are very dry; otherwise, undesirable bacteria may take hold and produce bad or off flavors.
  • Keep the beans in an incubator, while wrapped in the plastic, at a temperature of 30°C/85°F. You can also keep them at any warm place for a day or two or until you see, the plastic completely filled with white mycelium.
  • The tempeh is ready when the soybeans become one complete solid mass.
  • The fresh tempeh will be warm and has a pleasant mushroom flavor.
  • You can store tempeh in the refrigerator, for around ten days. However, if you keep it in the freezer, it can stay for a few months.

Recipe For the Week

Tempeh Super BBQ Burger

tempeh burger
An Easy Way to Use Tempeh Cakes

Ingredients Needed

  • 1  tempeh cake (about 4 to 5 cups)
  • 1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, grated
  • 1 broccoli stock, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup brown rice or spelt flour
  • 2 Tbs arrowroot starch
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs dried basil
  • 1 Tbs dried oregano
  • 2 Tbs dried parsley
  •  sea salt, to taste
  • 1 egg or egg substitute (1 Tbs ground chia + 1/4 cup warm water)
  • Add other spices, if desired, like chilli, herbs, or spice mix.

Instructions

  1. Cut tempeh up into cubes and toss into a food processor and process until into small pieces, or finely chop.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together ground tempeh, onion, zucchini, broccoli stock, brown rice, arrowroot starch, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, basil, oregano, parsley, baking powder, sea salt and egg or egg substitute.
  3. Mix with a fork until it starts to come together, and is evenly mixed.
  4. Take about 1/3 cup mixture, roll into a ball and then flatten into a patty shape.
  5. Either cook on a 350-400 BBQ or in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Remove once lightely browned and firm to the touch.  Do not over cook the patty.
  6. Serve on a bun with topping of your choice or wrapped in lettuce.

We hope this Blog page has assisted you in making great tempeh at home. We have tempeh or PTS spore starter in small amounts and now in 500gr commercial size packaging. See more details at our web store – Organic-Cultures.com

Japanese Koji-Kin Rice Recipes

Now that you have made a fresh batch or purchased your koji rice, the next step is what to do with it. Many people use koji-kin to make saké, amasaké, or miso. However, what other ways are there to turn koji rice into something extraordinary? Here are a few recipes to get you started.

Basic Amazaké Ferment

Used in Japan as a sweetener, beverage, or a simple alcolholic drink.  Amazake is one of the best known cultured and fermented items from Japan.   There are several recipes for amazake that have been used for hundreds of years. By a popular recipe, kōji is added to cooled whole grain rice causing enzymes to break down the carbohydrates into simpler unrefined sugars.  As the mixture incubates, sweetness develops naturally.
By another popular recipe, sake kasu is simply mixed with water, but usually sugar is added.
In this recipe, amazake becomes low-alcohol beverage if given time.

Amazake can be used as a dessert, snack, natural sweetening agent, baby food, added insalad dressing or smoothies. The traditional drink (prepared by combining amazake and water, heated to a simmer, and often topped with a pinch of finely grated ginger) was popular with street vendors, and it is still served at inns, teahouses, and at festivals.  Many Shinto shrines in Japan provide or sell it during the New Year!

amazake drink
Ready to Drink Amazake

What is needed…

3- cups cooked brown rice

1- cup light koji rice

Yield: 4 cups of fermented rice to use as a sweetener or 3 quarts Amazaké drink

Incubation Temperature: 120-140 F (50-60C)

Start by cooking the brown rice and allowing it to cool to at least 140 F (60C).  Once cooled, stir in the koji rice and mix well.  Place mixture into a glass or stainless steel container that will allow an inch of “headroom” to allow for expansion during the fermentation process.  Cover container and incubate, stirring every couple of hours to prevent heat build up.  The finished product can take as little as 6 hours with quality, fresh (not dried) koji-kin at optimum temperatures, after 6 hours start tasting the ferment to see if the cycle is complete.

When finished the ferment should thicken like porridge with a mild sweet taste.  The sweetness will increase up to a point after which it will change and start to become sour.  Once the taste is to your liking, place into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 to 5 min., stirring frequently.  Boiling will stop the fermentation process keeping the amazaké sweet.  For a smother amazaké consistency purée the mixture in a blender until smooth.  Refrigerate any ferment not used right away.  If not, the amazaké will become very sour.

Amazaké Sweetener: Use ¼-cup ferment for each tbsp of sweetener called for in your favorite recipes and reducing the cooking liquid by 3 Tbsp.  Baked goods will be rich and moist with a more subtle sweetness.

Amazaké Drink: For HOT amazaké, heat one part ferment and two parts very hot water.  Add a dash of shoyu and a grating of fresh ginger root.  Serve blended mix in heated mugs.  For a cold drink, blend 1 part amazaké ferment and 2 part fruit, fruit juices, soymilk water and/or flavoring of your choice.

Doburoku: For simple “grog”, leave the amazaké ferment in the incubator for several days, stirring and tasting occasionally, until it develops a heady, alcoholic aroma.  Blend as above, traditionally served in Japan as a thick and creamy drink or dilute to taste.


Mellow Pickled Cabbage

In Japan, pickled vegetables come with many meals, as a condiment or side dish.  In Japan it is called ‘Kyabetsu no asazuke’.  Unlike normal pickles this recipe is a fermented pickled delight.  Like German style sauerkraut, pickled veggies are uncomplicated to make into a fermented snack or condiment!
Japanese pickled cabbage
What is needed…

1 – pound organic cabbage of your choice or a mix of green and reds. Use American style or napa/Chinese styles
2 – Tbsp non-iodized salt (Kosher or sea salt)
¼-cup koji rice
¼-cup warm water
½ tsp honey or other sweetener
A japanese tsukemono pickle press

Start by removing the center core and shred the cabbage coarsely.  Mix well with the salt and pack into a glass bowl.  Put a small enough plate to fit inside the bowl and weight it down with water filled glass jar or non-metal container. Refrigerate for 3 days.

After 3 days, draw off the liquid from the cabbage but do not rinse. 
TIP:
Save the liquid brine for other uses. Dissolve the honey/sweetener in the warm water and add the koji rice.  Set aside until the koji has dissolved the liquid and softened.

Next, mix the soaked koji and cabbage, mixing well.  Pack contents into a straight-sided container,  Add a plate and weight to keep everything under the liquid. Submerging the cabbage keeps the mixture from contamination with unwanted bacteria. Allow 4 to 5 days for the flavor to develop then refrigerate.  Use within a week or two.

For those who do not wish to mess with jar and weights, a Japanese pickle fermenter is a great investment. EBay and specialty shops have the Japanese tsukemono pickle press. See photos for recommended styles.
japanese pickle press
pickle press japan pickle press fermenter

 


Koji Rice Pickled Vegetables Condiment

  Here is another great recipe for using your new tsukemono press (if you have one).
It is a mix of seaweed and root vegetables with a lot of umami flavor.

What is needed…

½ oz dry kombu, wakamé, or sea palm. Should yield about ½ cup after soaking
1 to 1 ½ cups daikon, baby burdock root, or carrot. We enjoy a combination of all three.
Try using any type of herbal roots, too.
¼ cup naturally fermented soy sauce, shoyu, or tamari
¼ cup mild vinegar, plain or flavored
¼ cup mirin or saké. Mirin imparts a sweet component to the mix and saké a dry alternative, extremely recommended!

Start by soaking the Kombu and/or other sea vegetable for 10 to 20 min. in just enough water to cover, soak until softened.  Reserve ¼ cup of the soaking water and cut the sea vegetables into slivers or short ribbons.  Next, scrub the root vegetables to remove any soil and cut them into thin slivers.  Place the root vegetables, sea vegetables, and reserved soaking liquid into a saucepan and bring to a low boil.  Add soy sauce and vinegar and return to a low boil. Cover and remove from heat.

When the mixture has cooled to 110F (45C) (warm, but not too hot to touch) transfer to a glass bowl or jar and stir in the koji-kin, mirin, and saké. Let the mixture mature for 4 hours at a cool to moderate room temperature, stirring occasionally from time to time.

The pickled vegetables are ready to consume now or refrigerate the unused portion, which will continue to mellow and enhance the flavors even more over time. Enjoy a bowl with your favorite grains!

To purchase koji spores or fresh made koji-kin please visit our webstore: 
Buy Japanese Koji Spores

As Always…Happy Culturing

 

What is Tempeh?

What is Tempeh?

tempeh spore cakeTempeh is made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans and formed into a cake, similar to a very firm veggie burger. Traditional tempeh is a soybean cake that has a rich smoky flavor and aroma, with a firm nutty texture. The soybeans are fermented and inoculated with the mold spores of rhizopus oligosporus. Use the cooked TPS cakes as a replacement for meat in many recipes. Tempeh works well for making tacos, hamburgers, and our favorite…the grilled Tempeh Reuben with raw sauerkraut! If you live in Indonesia, you can buy tempeh starter easily. In the USA, buying the starter spores can be a bit difficult; however, to make tempeh is not too hard. Many commercially prepared brands add other grains, such as barley, also adding spices and extra flavors. All this you can do yourself at home by adjusting the recipe. Although tempeh is a soy product, it has a unique taste and a mildly smoky flavor, unlike tofu.

Description

Making tempeh  Tempeh is fermented soy food that originated on the island of Java in Indonesia and is fermented with the mold
Rhizopus oligosporus. Fermentation of tempeh can involve a period of several days or longer, and fermentation is
usually carried out at temperatures of 85-90°F/29-32°C. Tempeh is usually purchased in a cake-like form and can be
sliced in a way that is similar to tofu. However, tempeh has a less watery texture than tofu, and in comparison to non-
fermented tofu, a more distinct flavor as well. Steaming, baking, and frying are all popular ways of preparing tempeh
in many countries. Tempeh is also commonly incorporated into stews, soups, and grilled kebabs.
To understand more about tempeh’s health benefits, it can be helpful to think not only about fermentation of
soybeans into tempeh, but about fermentation of foods in general.

How to Use Tempeh

Because it is a low-fat and high-protein food, many vegetarians choose to include tempeh in their diet on a regular basis. Try adding some to a stir fry instead of tofu, or crumble into soups or meatless chili for added bulk and protein. Because of the tempeh cakes firm texture, the tempeh should be sliced into small dices, cubes, or slices as the recipe calls for. Find tempeh in the refrigerated section of most health food stores and in the natural foods aisle of well-stocked grocery stores. However, for the best and cheapest tempeh, one should make a fresh home-made tempeh product.

With a fresh tempeh cake, the finished product is cut and prepared for the entrée desired. Cutting it into ¼” strips and marinating is great for sandwiches, tempeh bacon, or the feel of cut steak. Dicing and marinating works well for stews, soups, and stir-fry dishes and recipes. Just like tofu, tempeh cakes will take on the flavor of the marinade. The trick is two pan fry or grill the prepared tempeh (tempeh should never be eaten raw) then wait until the last to add the tempeh to the entrée or recipe. If added too soon, the flavor of the marinade will become lost to the dish.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas for Tempeh

  • For a twist on the traditional reuben sandwich, place broiled tempeh on a slice of whole grain bread, layer with sauerkraut, top with cheese or non-dairy “cheese” and then broil in oven for a few minutes until the sandwich is hot and toasty. Top with Russian dressing made by combining ketchup and mayonnaise, and enjoy.
  • A vegetarian option to spaghetti and meat sauce is spaghetti and tempeh sauce. Just substitute tempeh for ground beef in your favorite recipe.
  • Add extra flavor, texture and nutrition to chili by adding some tempeh
  • Check out our site for some of the best recipes including…Tempeh Reuben sandwich w/ raw sauerkraut

Making Tempeh From Spores

tempeh in banana leafMaking tempeh is not a hard process for those with some cooking skills or background. The basics are boiling and de-hauling the soybeans, letting this cool down, and inoculate the cooked soybeans with the tempeh spores. The finished result is a firm white cake ready to slice and cook. The detailed instructions are at our main website http://www.organic-cultures.com/tempeh instructions

Tempeh soy cakes are a traditional Indonesian food made by fermenting soybeans with a starter culture. Traditional tempeh is a soybean cake that has a rich smoky flavor and aroma, with a firm nutty texture. Tempeh or TPS is one of Indonesian traditional foods full of protein made by fermenting soybeans with the rhizopus mold spores. It is high in nutritional value, providing nutrients such as Protein, Riboflavin, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Copper, and Manganese. It is also low in Cholesterol and Sodium. If you live in Indonesia, you can buy tempeh starter easily. In the USA, buying the starter spores can be a bit difficult; however, to make tempeh is not too hard. A meatless choice great for vegans or those looking for a healthy probiotic alternative for an animal based diet. Cooks up like ‘bacon or steak’ when sliced thin and fried. It is recommended not to eat tempeh products raw. Soy should only be consumed after fermentation and not raw. The ragi tempeh spores will break down the soy into an easy to consume product. Want to know more about tempeh – PTS? Checkout our main site.

Happy Culturing!  Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods

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This has been a great method, developed by Organic Cultures, for wrapping soy beans inoculated with tempeh spores. The culturing/fermentation times are shorter, which could be in part from the wild yeast spores on the burdock leaf. Burdock wrapping of the tempeh cakes makes it easier and faster to produce vs. filling p[plastic bags

The burdock leaf is prefect this time of year for trying this tempeh production method yourself. Hurry though as the burdock will start the flowering and seed production cycles soon, which is still OK for wrapping the soy beans. This method is more like the traditional recipe and replaces plastic bags and the mess of poking all the holes

Once the cakes are inoculated and growing tempeh spores medium, simply place cakes into a freezer bag and freeze. We find it best to take the finished cakes out right before you plan to use them and allow thawing about half way through. Letting the cake thaw completely seems to make a softer lower grade product.

Let us know in the comments how this method goes for you. Remember to identify correctly the plant used or have someone knowledgeable in herbal medicine assist you.

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As with most of North America, we cannot produce tempeh in the traditional manor.  Traditional tempeh is a mix of cooked soybeans inoculated with the proper spore starter.  The inoculated tempe mixture is wrapped in fresh banana leaves to ferment outside for a day or two.

Here in the USA, it is common use plastic bags with perforated with holes for fermenting the soy cakes; however, this is not following traditional ways or sustainable methods.  The following experiment, brought about by looking for an alternative, is as follows: …

Experiment #:  Tempe1012AB274 –
Alternative Sources for Tempeh Fermentation

Equipment Used: Dehulled split soybeans, tempeh spores, burdock leaves, common kitchen and lab utensils and glassware.

– Experiment started via the standard tempeh recipe found on our organic-cultures.com website.  Once soy beans are cooked and processed, the steps changed from placing tempeh mixture in perforated plastic bags to encasing the spore inoculated soy beans in a sustainable and eco-friendly wrapping.

burdock leaf  –  Cakes then wrapped in fresh burdock leaf.  Found single layer of leaf material breaks and needs more holding strength.  Some blanch the burdock leaves; in this case, we did not.  Used two to three leaves placed opposed to each other.  Proper amount of tempe spore soybean mixture placed within leaf ‘basket’.  Secure with toothpicks or bamboo.  Amount of mixture can very due to size of leaves, however, for better fermentation times use around a 1/3 cup or 4 oz/ 113gr per leaf.

– Fermented cakes for 29 hours at 75 degrees F on breathable rack lightly covered with layer of plastic film to keep moisture in.  Cakes need air circulation but not enough to dry out.  Cover with additional layers of burdock leaves for future testing.

– Extra mixture placed in glass baking tray vs. plastic bags, mixture pressed down to better inoculate soybeans and covered lightly with plastic wrap.  Within same time frame as above, soybeans showed complete growth with pure white ‘fuzzy’ growth on top of the soy beans.  This method seemed faster for quick use or where a sliced ‘cake’ packaged in plastic bags, is not desired.  Allows easier mixing of a sauce or marinade with the fermented tempeh.  In our test, we mixed the tempeh with BBQ sauce, pressed into cakes, battered and deep fried.  Not the healthiest tempeh recipe it is a great vegan substitution for meat!  With a cultured dipping sauce, it makes a very nice appetizer or snack.

tempeh spore cake
Buy Tempeh Spore StarterRagi Tempe Spore Starter