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Homemade Tofu

 first taste of fresh tofu in Northern California, and I was immediately taken by the mellow flavor and creamy texture. It was nothing like the store bought, mostly firm tofu I had been cooking with. Like a taste of freshly prepared ricotta cheese compared to store bought ricotta, the difference is subtle yet noticeable.

The process for making fresh tofu is just like making fresh cheese at home, with the added initial steps of soaking soybeans and extracting the liquid soy milk before coagulating the curds. Once the beans are soaked and softened, it will take about two hours to prepare the tofu. I recommend using organic non GMO soybeans, which can be found at Whole Foods, for home made tofu.

Steps to make tofu after the jump.

Prepare container for pressing tofu or use a tofu press which can be purchased on-line. To make container: poke numerous holes in the bottom and lower sides of a square 32 oz plastic food storage container with a small screw driver. Other equipment needed: fine cheesecloth, muslin or flour sack cloth large enough to cover inside of container with additional 6 " overhang on each side, fine mesh sieve, thermometer, large non-reactive stock pot, large bowl, blender or food processor, and 3 to 5 lb weight.

Ingredients 8 oz organic non GMO soybeans 1 gallon filtered water-divided 4 teaspoons calcium sulfate (see below) or magnesium chloride or 4 fresh limes

1. Measure 8oz organic, non GMO soybeans into a colander. Rinse and pick out any discolored beans.
2. Place soybeans in a large bowl and add 1.5 pints filtered water. Soak for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight, until beans are soft.
3. Drain and rinse beans.
4. In batches, place 1 cup of beans with 3 cups filtered water in a blender or food processor. Blend for 3-5 minutes, the liquid will turn white and look like porridge.

5. Place a double layer of fine cheesecloth in a strainer over large bowl. In batches, place blended beans into cloth. Gather the ends of the cloth, twist and squeeze soy milk through the cloth. Squeeze from the top of the gathered ends. Be careful not to squeeze the bottom until most of the liquid has been extracted or you and the counter will be covered with the fresh soy milk!

6.The pulp or okara left in the cloth can be discarded or saved to use in baking.

7. Prepare coagulant: Choose natural calcium sulfate: Nigari (find at Asian markets)- distilled from seawater, or Gypsum ( used in beer and wine making), or magnesium chloride-Epsom salt (from pharmacy), or simply lemon or lime juice. To use: dissolve 4 teaspoons calcium sulfate or magnesium chloride in 1/4 cup water. I have found the easiest coagulant is the strained juice of freshly squeezed limes-start with the juice of 2 limes.

8. Pour soy milk into large stock pot. Heat mixture on medium low heat until boiling. Sir occasionally to prevent bottom from scorching. Stir any foam that forms back into mixture. Turn heat down and simmer mixture 10-15 minutes until temperature reaches 185 F. The mixture will double in volume.Turn off heat. 9. Slowly pour coagulant into hot mixture a little at a time until mixture begins to separate. Gently stir 1 time, do not continue to stir or agitate mixture. Allow mixture to set 5-10 minutes. Note: the curds begin to form immediately, if the curds are not forming or too small,slowly add additional coagulant. Starting with 1/2 the amount used in the 1st addition.

10. Place cloth into container or tofu press. Place the container on a rack over a large baking dish or rimmed baking sheet. Ladle curds into cloth. Fold edges of cloth over curds to cover. Place the same size container, or a plate that covers the container from edge to edge, over cloth. Add 3-5 lb weight (bricks, stones, canned goods or container filled with water).

11. Allow curds to drain-20 minutes for softer tofu, 25-30 minutes for medium to firm. Invert mold and unwrap tofu. Eat warm or store covered in water in refrigerator for up to one week.

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