Thursday, April 14, 2011

JOT #15: tofu

I have long been wanting to make my own tofu. I get lovely firm tofu from HODO soybeanery at the farmer's market when I want it (aside from the silken, I can bring my own box to take it home), and there is always the great extra-firm Wildwood tofu (though plastic-wrapped) at the store. When I want medium, HODO almost always runs out of it, though, and I'm stuck with only silken or firm tofu, or I end up with much too much and waste it. Very sad.

So I'm happy to say I've finally made some tofu. It's silken (ish), and a small amount (what soymilk I had left), and has a slightly bitter aftertaste (I think I used too much coagulant). But it's a start, and I'm hopeful of being able to make it at home from now one, at least when I can't get it elsewhere. I used only 3 cups of soymilk, and used Epsom salts as a coagulant (they're cheap), which means the tofu has no calcium, so I may have to switch later! The recipe is adapted from here, which also includes photos and more details.

Tofu

3-5 quarts soymilk (more = firmer tofu)
1/2-1 tbsp coagulant (nigari - calcium sulfate, or Epsom salts)
mesh strainer
pot
muslin, preferably, or cheesecloth
container with holes (optional)
small, shaped container
plate that is smaller than strainer or holey container
heavy weight (a large can of tomatoes, or free weights, 5lbs or more)

Heat the soymilk to just below boiling. Avoid letting it boil (ideally, it should be above 180oF but below 210). Remove any skin that has formed. Turn off the heat or place on the very lowest heat, and add half the coagulant. Stir ONCE completely (and only!) with a large spoon, then let soymilk sit 10 minutes. If most has coagulated and the liquid is no longer white, turn heat off and continue. Otherwise repeat with the other half of the coagulant, stirring once and resting 10 minutes, until most of the milk has curdled.

In the meantime, place the strainer on a pot so that it sits above the bottom, and line with two layers of cheesecloth or muslin. Pour the curdled milk into the strainer and let the liquid drain, then lift up cloth and squeeze out most of the rest of the liquid. If you don't have a container with holes that will fit this amount of tofu, leave cloth in strainer, folding cloth over the tofu. Otherwise, place tofu inside the holey container, folding the cloth over the tofu so it lies flat.

Cover with a plate that doesn't touch the sides of the container or strainer, and weigh down with the weight. Leave 15 minutes for a softer tofu, or 30-45 minutes with a heavier weight for firmer. (I used 15 minutes with a glass bottle of chickpeas).

Remove tofu from cloth, and transfer to container. Cover with water and change water daily.

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