Homemade Tofu (Medium Firm)

When you are on a plant-based and low-carb  diet, tofu can be your best friend. I love everything about tofu – how versatile, nutritious, and tasty it is, not to mention being super low in carbohydrate. I also love how wallet-friendly and easy it is to make your own organic tofu.crispy friend tofu

Make your own tofu, you ask? Oh yes I do – and so can you!  It’s easy – just one little step away from making your own soy milk – and today, I’ll show you exactly how, step by step, with photos.

Homemade tofu is a revelation – so sweet and delicious straight out of the pot, with nothing but a tiny drizzle of soy sauce. You also will have two lovely tofu byproducts, the soy pulp (“okara”) and liquid whey. They are both nutritious and versatile (like tofu itself), so please don’t throw them away.

Did I mention how economical it is to make your own tofu? One cup of organic soy beans cost me about $1. From that, you can make 300-400g of  organic tofu, about 1.5 cups of okara, and 700g of whey. Now, isn’t that the best use of $1 ever?

Now are you convinced to give tofu making a go? I hope so!

Ingredients: First, let’s gather the ingredients – which are just two:

bulk soy beans

(1) organic soy beans (non-organic might be genetically modified, so avoid that if you can): I buy soy beans in bulk from this shop, which I think delivers Australia-wide. But to start out, try your local food co-op or health food shop.

(2) nigari  (magnesium chloride) flakes to coagulate tofu.. You can get nigari online. Nigari comes in either liquid form or as flakes. I much prefer the flakes. You never know how diluted nigari is in liquid, so flakes are easier to control the amount you use. A 100g bag of nigari flakes will last for years, if you don’t make tofu that often.

nigari flakes

Equipments: You don’t need any special equipments. But you’ll need these (which you probably already have in your kitchen):

(1) a blender (does not have to be high speed)

(2)  a BIG pot (the biggest pot you have, like a stock pot – the bigger the better)

(3) a wooden spoon

(4) a large metal strainer or colander

(5) a clean tea towel

That’s it – now you are ready to make your own tofu. The recipe and step-by-step instruction are below. You can double or triple the batch if you like, but I find it hard to squeeze more than one cup of beans at a time. So start with 1 cup and see how you go. Happy tofu making!

homemade tofu
homemade tofu

Tofu (Medium-Firm)

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December 5, 2017

Homemade "momen" tofu using a metal strainer - with step-by-step photos and instructions. It's easier than you think! The tofu made with a round strainer may not look as pretty as the store-bought ones, but much tastier. Plus, you can enjoy the bonus products of soy pulp and whey.

  • Yields: about 350g of tofu, 1.5 cups of soy pulp, and 700mil of whey

Ingredients

1 cup organic soy beans

1 tsp nigari flakes

1 3/5 liter filtered water for cooking, plus more for soaking

1/4 cup filtered water, for dissolving nigari flakes in

Directions

1Soak the soy beans in filtered water for 12-24 hours.

soaking soy beans

2Throw away the soaking water. Give the beans a quick wash. Drain, and put them in a blender. Add about 1 litre of the filtered water, and keep the rest in a jug. This is just because most blenders can't hold all 1.6 liters of water at one time.

blending soy beans

3Blend the beans and water. It takes about 30 seconds in my high-speed blender. You don't need the beans to liquify though.

blending soy beans

4Empty the blended soy beans/water into the largest pot you have. Use the remaining water (that didn't fit into the blender) to rinse out the blender, and add it to the pot. Put a lid on the pot (to speed up the cooking time). Set your timer to about 8 minutes (in case you walk away from the kitchen), and start heating the pot at medium-high heat.

cooking soy beans

5While the soy mixture is heating up, prepare for the next step. Place your metal strainer over a deep bowl. Line the strainer with a piece of clean cloth, like a tea towel or muslin. Get a container ready nearby to store soy pulp.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6After about 8 minutes, the bean mixture should be close to boiling. Turn the heat down a bit, and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom so burned bits don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Don't walk away at this point, and keep heating and stirring till the soy mix reaches a boiling point. You can tell immediately because the whole thing starts to rise up the pot, threatening to overlfow (and it will, if you let it!)

cooking soy beans

7Turn the heat down to low. Re-set the timer to 5 minutes. Then keep stirring/scraping with the wooden spoon, to prevent overflowing (and if it does, well, you are not alone. I've done this so many times. Just continue with the recipe and clean up without despairing - you'll still have some yummy tofu). You need to cook the beans here because raw beans are indigestible.

cooking the soy beans

8When the timer goes off, pour the soy mixture over the cloth-covered strainer. Leave it to cool a bit, so you can squeeze the pulp out. This takes about 20 -30 minutes. You want the soy mix not too hot (it'll burn your hands), and not too cold (it'll be more difficult to squeeze when cold).

straining soy milk

9Wash the pot meanwhile. But since you'll be using the same pot again to heat up soy milk soon, it doesn't have to spotless clean at this point.

10When the soy mix is cool enough, squeeze it to get as much soy milk out of it as you can. Think of it as a good workout!

squeezing tofu pulp

11Now you have rich, creamy soy milk, and a chunk of pulp ("okara") left in the cloth. Store okara in a container, and keep that in the fridge for another dish. Pour the soy milk back into the (clean) pot. Wash your hands and give the cloth a quick rinse (you'll be using the cloth again soon).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

12Heat up the soy milk at medium heat. It won't take long this time to heat up, so don't walk away from the kitchen. You want the milk to nearly reach the boiling point. You can tell by the tiny bubbles forming up around the edges, and then the surface of the milk start to move.

squeezing tofu pulp

13While waiting for the soy milk to heat up, dissolve a scant 2/3 teaspoon of nigari flakes in about 1/4 cup of filtered water. Put the strainer and cloth over the bowl again. You are nearly at the end!

nigari flakes in water

14When the soy milk is nearly at the boil, turn off the heat. Pour the nigari water into the pot, and give it a very quick stir with a spoon or spatula. Now leave it alone for 15-30 minutes, without stirring or moving the pot. You can leave it like this for an hour or more if you like.

nigari

15Magic happens while you wait - nigari coagulates the tofu, just like when you make ricotta cheese. After about 15 minutes, you can see gorgeous white tofu floating in a clear, yellowish liquid (whey).

tofu nearly ready

16Gently pour the tofu/whey combo into the strainer lined with cloth. Let it strain naturally, without disturbing it, for 15-30 minutes. Or if you are impatient, you can give the cloth a gentle squeeze to help strain the tofu a bit faster. The longer you let it naturally strain or squeeze the whey out of the tofu, the firmer it gets. So you can adjust the consistency of your tofu to an extent here, depending on what you plan to use it for.

tofu nearly ready

17Ta-da! This is your tofu. It may not look like a pretty rectangle tofu you get at shops (having used a round metal strainer for shaping), but it is way tastier. I now use a rectangle metal strainer that I found in Japan to make rectangle tofu - so experiment with what you have around your kitchen next time.

homemade tofu

18If you are not eating or using the tofu right away, gently store it in a container, and cover with a bit of water to keep it from drying out. Store in the fridge till needed. It'll keep for up to 5 days or so.

mome dofu

19Finally... don't throw out the whey! You can use it as soup stock - for miso soup, curry, vegetable soup, sauces, etc. Whey is tasty and nutritious. Also, I love using it in lieu of water when making bread. It makes the most fluffy, wonderful bread dough.

tofu whey

If the whey looks a little milky, and not clear, don't worry about it. You still have most of the tofu there. Next time though, make sure the soy milk is nearly at the boil before adding nigari water. You can try using a bit more nigari flakes as well, but nigari tastes bitter, so if you use too much, you'll end up with a bitter-tasting tofu and whey.

I make tofu while cooking breakfast or dinner - or while doing other food preps, just so I can keep an eye on the initial cooking process and avoid unfortunate overflowing accidents.

Also, you don't have to make tofu in one go. Do it in stages. Blend up the soaked beans in the morning, cook it at lunchtime, and finish it at dinnertime, etc. You can even keep the soy milk in the fridge (and drink a bit of it for your coffee) overnight, and use the remaining milk to make tofu the next day.

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How to Make Coconut Yoghurt from Scratch

It’s easy to find good-quality vegan yoghurt these days, even at mainstream supermarkets. Coconut yoghurt is my favourite – it’s creamy, subtly sweet, and utterly delicious. Even tastier than normal Greek yoghurt in my opinion.

The bad news is, these precious tubs of vegan goodness are pricey! At $7 or more for a small, 400g-500g tub, it feels like a luxury item for occasional indulgence, rather than for everyday consumption. And most of them aren’t even organic.

But here is good news for you: you can make your own 700g tub of coconut yoghurt – organic, too – for just about $1.5. Yes that’s right. It took me a few trial and errors to get the right result, but I think I finally figured it out. Hooray! Interested? Let’s get started then.

Here’s what you need:

coconut yoghurt ingredients

(1) 2 heaping cups (110g) of organic coconut flakes. I buy it in bulk here. Desiccated would work as well. It may seem like a lot of coconut, but when you do the math, it’s only about $1.5 for organic coconut, if you buy it in bulk.

(2) 3 cups (750ml) of boiling water;

(3) 2 giant tablespoons of arrowroot powder / tapioca flour (40g). You can also use cornstarch probably, but I haven’t tried it yet.

(4) 1 tablespoon of white sugar (I’ve used caster sugar, and artificial sweetener like Natvia, and both work fine). I wouldn’t use brown sugar or any sugar with colour in it –  because it just makes the whole yoghurt brownish and not visually appealing.

(5) A tiny tiny bit of probiotic culture. I got this “nondairy” yoghurt culture here. Or you can use about 2 tablespoons of any yoghurt with active culture in it (save some of those pricey vegan yoghurt for this project – you can freeze it, too, until you decide to make your own yoghurt).

Equipments: You also need a blender, a nut milk bag (or a strainer and some cheesecloth or tea towel), and a clean jar or container.

That’s it! First, we make coconut milk. If you want to use canned coconut milk, that’s fine. Just skip the first part of the recipe below.

MAKE COCONUT MILK

Step One: Put the kettle on and boil some water (you’ll need 3 cups).

Step Two: Measure 2 heaping cups of coconut into a blender jug (here I’m using the largest jug for my Nutri Ninja blender).

coconut milk steps

Step Three: Add 3 cups of boiling water to the coconut flakes.

coconut milk steps

Sep Four: Blend it up for a good minute or so in your blender. Be careful, it’s hot!

Step Five: Pour the hot mixture into another clean jug or bowl, lined with a nut milk bag (or a sieve lined with tea towel or cloth). Let it cool for a bit.

milking coconut flakes

Step Six: When the mixture is cool enough to handle, squeeze all the milk out of the coconut mix as much as possible. Now you have about 3 cups of warm, fresh, creamy coconut milk.

fresh coconut milk

You can use the pulp for something else – like a pie base, or muffins or cakes or muesli).

It’s best to make the yoghurt straight away now while the milk is still warm.

MAKE COCONUT YOGHURT

Step One: Pour about a cup of the milk into a small bowl, and whisk in the arrowroot powder and sugar. Make sure there are no lumps and the mixture is smooth. Whisk that into the rest of the coconut milk.

arrowroot powder

arrowroot powder

arrowroot powder

Step Two: Pour the whole milk mixture into a saucepan, and bring it to the boil, whisking it continuously to avoid lumps. Once it boils, the mixture should thicken considerably. Keep whisking for a few more seconds for a good measure, then turn off the heat. Can you see the gooey consistency in the photo, like very thick custard?

cooking coconut yoghurt

Step Three: Pour the hot mixture into a clean jar. Then wait till it cools down to about 40-45 degrees celcius- like a warm bath water.

Step Three: Once it’s cool enough, whisk in yoghurt or yoghurt culture and mix well.

non-dairy culture

Step Four: Put the jar in a yoghurt maker (I use the yoghurt function in an Instant Pot), or if you don’t have one, wrap the jar in an electric blanket, or place in an insulated container like an Esky with warm water in it) and keep it warm and still for 6-8 hours.

yoghurt in Instant Pot

After 6-8 hours, your coconut yoghurt should be ready. Chill in the fridge and enjoy!

yoghurt in Instant Pot

My kids love it so much they devour it while it’s still warm. The texture firms up more in the fridge though – and become more yoghurt-like, rather than like a wobbly sauce. Either way it’s super yummy. I love having it with homemade muesli and fresh fruit.

Actually, you might want to double the recipe – it does take a bit of work to make it, and you’ll be sad to see it gone in one or two mornings – which is the case in my household.

coconut yoghurt with muesli

PS: I have used agar agar in the past as a thickener, but it didn’t work very well – the consistency was too solid, like hard-set jello that you can cut with a knife. The trick in my recipe is using enough arrowroot starch. Don’t skimp on it, otherwise you’ll end up with runny, drippy and stretchy yoghurt that is not very appetising…