How to make tempeh

Looking for a recipe on how to make your own fresh tempeh from tempeh starter?

how to make tempeh header




  • 3 perforated ziplock bags
  • A pot for boiling the beans in
  • 2 towels
  • Bowl
  • 2 spoons

How to make Tempeh – Tempeh making instructions for 550 gram beans –

  1. Measure 550 gram soy beans (preferably organic, from your local health food store) and wash thoroughly.
  2. Put in pot and add clean water to 10cm above bean level, bring to the boil, turn off.
  3. Soak for 24 hours at room temperature – there might be some natural fermentation occurring, this is normal.
  4. After 24 hours rinse the beans and top up again till beans are covered with water.
  5. Put the pot on the kitchen bench and use your hands to de-hull the beans by squeezing and rubbing them. The hulls will come off easily, do this till most of the husks are removed. If the husk is left on, the spores cannot penetrate the bean to work properly. This will take some practice but you will get the hang of it.
  6. Top up the pot with water and keep it under the running tap using a circular motion of your hand to float and wash the hulls away as they float to the surface.
  7. Don’t worry if you can’t get all the hulls.
  8. Leave the beans in the pot and add water till it is 10cm above the beans.
  9. Bring to the boil again and boil for 1 hour at a gentle rolling boil.
  10. Now you will see that the hulls you have missed will float to the top together with the beans that have not been de-hulled, scoop off as many as you can.
  11. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar 10 minutes before the end of the boil, this lowers the Ph and makes a good environment for the spores to grow.
  12. Drain the beans and spread them on a clean towel on your bench.
  13. Use a towel to rub and dry the beans. In this process the missed beans will loosen their hulls, it is important that the beans are dry, as too much moisture can cause bacteria to grow in your tempeh resulting in a bad batch. Don’t make it too dry as the spores need humidity to grow. When you squeeze a handful of beans they shouldn’t stick to your hands. If they are shiny and have a film of water on them, use a hairdryer to dry a bit more, using a spoon to turn the beans.
  14. When the beans are dry, transfer them to a clean bowl.
  15. Add 3 gram of the tempeh starter mix and sprinkle over the beans. Use a clean spoon to mix the beans thoroughly for a couple of minutes, making sure that all the beans have made contact with the spores, this is important so the mycelium will develop evenly in your tempeh.
  16. You will now have about 950gram of inoculated soybeans.
  17. Use a clean serving spoon to fill three perforated zip lock bags, dividing the beans equally.
  18. Lay on a flat surface and gently pat the bags and flatten them gently. Not too much as the mycelium needs space to grow.
  19. Now the important thing is to put the zip lock bags in a spot, ideally around 30-31o C. The lower the temperature, the longer the incubation time, it cannot be higher than 350C as it will kill the spores that create tempeh.
  20. Incubation can take 24- 48 hours (depending on the temperature). During this time the Rhizopus Oligosporus will do its job and transform your soybeans into a delicious bean cake.
  21. After about 12 -16 hours you will see a little condensation as it starts to generate it own heat.
  22. After 24-36 hours the spores will start to grow. You will see and feel a firm cake covered in white fluffy mycelium. When you open the zip lock bag and smell an earthy, nutty, mushroom like flavour, your tempeh is ready. It should be firm in texture – if you hold it in one corner it should not bend too much.
  23. You have to decide when its ready as it depends on different circumstances.
  24. Transfer the tempeh to a cooler spot out of the fermenter (when you see its ready but still warm) to finish the fermentation and when it doesn’t feel hot anymore it is ready to refrigerate or freeze.
  25. You should now have three 330gm tempeh cakes ready to eat.
  26. To freeze: leave in their zip lock bags and wrap in plastic wrap.

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Looking funny?

Sometimes black spots appear on the tempeh, this is caused by sporulation of the fungus due to too much oxygen and long incubation time. There is nothing wrong with it, it just looks a bit strange and will disappear during cooking. Discard your tempeh if it is slimy or smells strongly of ammonia. Good luck and happy tempeh making!