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Tempeh? I say Temp-yay!


Let's talk Tempeh. This protein & vitamin-packed fermented food is traditionally made with soybeans, but can also be made with other beans, grains, or a combination of both. Barley & oats can even be used. It originates from Indonesia, but is used worldwide in vegan & vegetarian cuisine. A food dehydrator or other means of maintaining an 85-90 degree temperature is needed. Tempeh is made by inoculating the beans with a starter culture (basically fungus spores) that spread throughout the beans, knitting them together into a mat of white mycelium. Don't let this scare you! The spores will not take you over like Invasion of the Bodysnatchers - this stuff is good for you :)

The process is surprisingly simple:

The beans are soaked, dehulled (skins removed), partly cooked & dried. Next the starter culture & an acidulant (usually vinegar) are thoroughly mixed into the beans. They are then pressed into a thin layer, usually in a perforated plastic zip bag, and allowed to ferment for 24-48 hours.

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The finished "cake" can then be flavored by marinating & seasoning, and is often cut into pieces and then fried for a crispy texture. It can be eaten alone, or used in sandwiches, salads, stir fries & stews. It freezes well, and can also be dehydrated for future use. I find it's a fun culinary challenge to experiment with flavorings & uses, as well as a "mad scientist" project. Tempeh is not just for vegans & vegetarians anymore! Give it a try - you won't be sorry ;)

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