Instructables

How to Make Tofu

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Tofu is great in so many recipes and easy to make. Along the way you will also make soy milk and have some okara left over. Okara is basically just bean pulp but it is great in breads, burgers, or cookies.
 
 
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Step 1: What you will need.

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Ingredients:
You'll need water, 3 cups of dry soy beans and 2 TBSP of Epsom Salt. As an alternative to the Epsom Salt, you may use 75ml of lemon juice. Most of the nicer grocery stores will have the soy beans and you can find Epsom Salt at the pharmacy. 

Equipment:
Food processor or blender, 2 large pots, 1 colander, 1 strainer, and a mesh bag. Instead of the mesh bag you could also use a few layers of cheesecloth. 

*Also note this recipe works doubled.

Step 2: Soak and Blend

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Soak 3 cups of dry soy beans over night in the refrigerator. 

RInse the soaked beans and discard any discolored ones if you spot any.

Blend a little at a time with enough water to cover the beans. 

Add the processed beans to your largest pot with 12 cups of water.



Step 3: Stir and Simmer

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Stir frequently and simmer for about 20 minutes. This will foam up a bit so be careful not to let it boil over. 

Step 4: Strain Out Milk

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Strain into your second pot. Use a spoon to press out as much of the milk as you can. The liquid is soy milk. The solids are okara.

I usually take out a jar or two of soy milk at this point and continue making the rest into tofu.

Step 5: Coagulate

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Heat the soy milk back up to around 180 degrees. 

Dissolve 2 TBSP of Epsom Salt in 1 and 1/2 cups of warm water.
(Alternatively you could use 75ml of lemon juice.)

Remove from heat and gently stir together.

In about 5 to 10 minutes the curds will separate.

Step 6: Add to Mold

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Your colander with a mesh bag or cloth makes an excellent mold. Skim out curds and pour into mold.

Press down with a small plate and heavy object.

Leave for about 20 minutes.
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mguer1336 months ago

great instructable, thanks. do you think you can preserve the milk? I was thinking of canning .

mikeinternet (author)  mguer1336 months ago
Thanks. I've never tried it myself. In my experience you'll want to use the milk as soon as possible. Maybe a few days in a jar.

I have tried this great receipe for soy milk making. It works great but I let the okara-soy milk mixture boil gently for 35 min (over the wood stove). It does go over when not stirring. The final soy milk add to be desolved by at least half to be a bit more fluid. I did add a little sugar (80g for 5 liters of milk).

Thanks for this instructable!

mikeinternet (author)  mguer1335 months ago

Thanks! Glad you gave it a try and thanks for adding your tips.

husejn2 years ago
would this recipe work with other types of beans?
mikeinternet (author)  husejn2 years ago
Honestly I have not tried it myself. I always thought bean curd and tofu were pretty much the same thing. although I have seen both written on the same menu before.

It would be great for people with soy bean allergies.
I've seen it done with garbanzo beans.
mikeinternet (author)  trask9 months ago
We will need to give that a try. Thanks!
acoyle211 months ago
Thank you for pointing out the Epsom salts have magnesium chloride in them. I'm never have thought of that myself.
joanna511 year ago
Soya is so good for you! Tofu is a great way to eat it.
Yay! Success! Thank you!!
Davilyn1 year ago
Nice. Less expensive that nigari. I would advise to use food grade epsom salt. Regular epsom salt from the drug store is not meant to be ingested and may have been processed with chemicals.
Just used this recipe and my tofu came out great! :)
mikeinternet (author)  thinkathena1 year ago
That is excellent to hear. In the very least this is great way of demystifying just what tofu is exactly.

Hi, I tried a different recipe yesterday, and it did not work out - no curds :( I'm happy to find yours and will give it a try. In the other recipe, it said to heat up to 150-155 for 8 mins and to use 2 teaspoons (in my case, Epson salt) for 1 1/2 cups and 5 cups of water. I barely retrieved any curds. However, I did have a lot of okara left, which I made in protein bars. :)
artxty1 year ago
Hi. Is it possible to re heat the soy milk, say i decide to make a tofu after a day, i'll just take it out of the fridge and re heat to 180 and add the epsom salt to make tofu?
Thanks
mikeinternet (author)  artxty1 year ago
I have yet to try this myself. But I see no reason why it would not work. I would not wait very long however to preserve freshness.
mairvine1 year ago
Tried this with the lemon juice option and it didn't work. No curds at all. Heated the milk to 180 degrees using a thermometer, then tried it again heating it to 190 and no curds. Guess I'll try again with Epsom salts.
mikeinternet (author)  mairvine1 year ago
I usually use Epsom salt with great results. Hope you have better luck next go.
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Tried it. Didn't work, my soy milk never curdled! So bummed but I'll follow the recipe next time and just use water. For my next batch: If I don't take any soy milk out do I need to use more Epsom salt?
2nd failed attempt! My soy milk never curdled, just separated into a bottom cloudy layer and top water layer. If these are Russ they are so small they pass through the strainer. It looked closer to curdles before I took out the okara. I feel it must be one of 3 reasons, could anyone confirm? 1. I forgot to refrigerate the soaking beans 2. could I have blended the beans too much? 3. I let my puréed beans boil,is that too much heat?
mikeinternet (author)  Joyfulgirl341 year ago
Are you still experimenting with spices?

I don't think any of those are the cause actually. It is best to refrigerate the beans when they soak but mainly to keep them fresh. The more blended the better. And When you are bringing the blended beans and water to a simmer, reaching a boil is common and not a problem.

I would suggest to double check that your soy milk was heated back up to 180 degrees when you added your coagulant. This was a huge problem we had at the beginning. Also you may want to try a little more coagulant if it is still not working.

Good luck.
mikeinternet (author)  Joyfulgirl342 years ago
We have experimented once with this. We added some curry powder to the soy milk before coagulating. It did seem to negatively effect the process but we were left with curry flavored tofu. Although we felt it was not as good as just spicing when you cook it or marinating.
Magnulus3 years ago
As someone who prefers to make his food from scratch, I'm looking forward to trying this. One question, though:

What kind of texture of tofu do you get from this? From looking at it, it looks quite firm and solid, which is what I want. I'm new to tofu, and the stuff I get in the supermarket tends to be way too crumbly for my liking.
mikeinternet (author)  Magnulus3 years ago
20 minutes in the mold makes very firm tofu. For softer tofu don't let it sit in the mold as long, maybe 5 minutes.
My tofu came out crumbly and did not set into a firm 'brick' like I'm used to buying from the market, is this normal or did I do something wrong?
mikeinternet (author)  rgarkey2 years ago
During my first few attempts at this I had a similar problem. When adding the coagulate you need to be sure the soy milk is heated back up to 180 degrees. This was what I was doing wrong and now that I check it with a thermometer I have never had any problems.
vreinkymov2 years ago
Thank you for posting this. Two things I found out in the process:

#1: Calcium Chloride as Coagulant - Works:

I had an old one-time-use chemical dehumidifier that I purchased at the dollar store. The granules are made up of Calcium Chloride and absorb moisture. In the process, other stuff gets absorbed as well, so I dissolved the remaining salt in water and boiled it to get more pure calcium chloride. Afterwards, I used this to make tofu.

#2: Nigari - How it's Made:

Nigari is the traditional coagulant used to make tofu, other than Gypsum. It's made by letting seawater evaporate to the point that salt crystals start forming. These leftover liquid is nigari. You can find a more thorough overview of it here:

http://nigarin.wordpress.com/2007/10/25/how-nigari-is-made/
mikeinternet (author)  vreinkymov2 years ago
Thanks for this comment. Now you have me wanting to make my own nigari. And in the process sea salt. Very cool.
Owlherder2 years ago
Thank you for making this Instructable. I've been making tofu this way for years. My brother made me some 4 sided wooden molds (no top and no bottom) made so that the resulting block of tofu will fit nicely into my Tupperware storage container, close in size to store-bought tofu blocks.

Set mold into a pan to catch the drainage, line the sides and bottom with strips of muslin, pour in the curds, place small block of wood on top (cut to fit inside the mold frame) and a couple of cans of food from the pantry on top of the wood block.

I just store my molds, muslin strips, home made straining bag all in my large canning pot in the garage. Everything is all together when I'm ready to make tofu.
piggie12302 years ago
Do you ever save the drained milk? I imagine that it would be salty, but if you make it with lemon juice ... my braid keeps saying this should be very much like butter milk since it is essentially the same thing.
mikeinternet (author)  piggie12302 years ago
The liquid that drains out of the mold is pretty much just water. It may be a bit cloudy if the tofu didn't coagulate perfectly but I don't believe it to be of any use.
pschuppan2 years ago

If any of you are concerned about using EPSOM Salt (MgSo) in tofu for a coagulant, don’t be unless you have an allergy to such a thing…. It is safe to add to food, and is chemically very similar to the Japanese tofu coagulant NIGARI (MgCl2), but is cheaper and easier found in the United States…..

EPSOM Salt has been used in this country for generations, and is still today a Doctor’s recommended home-remedy that can be used SAFELY both internally and externally for several things …. Did you catch the “Doctor Recommended” ….. EPSOM Salt is after all a salt, and as with any salt, it is never recommended to be taken internally in large amounts, so do your research (google), and don’t go over-board, you don’t need much.

As for the final product, and if my knowledge of basic chemistry serves, my guess is most of the salt and magnesium would be left behind in the by-product liquid solution discarded after straining out all the tofu curds, but some would remain in the final product as a supplement. I know the Chinese culture uses a coagulant that contains Calcium, and therefore does contain more calcium than other versions.

Nigari, not Nigiri (which is stuffed rice triangles) and EPSOM Salt are chemically similar, but not exactly the same, and therefore you cannot substitute one for the other in the same ratios….. the amount needed for using NIGARI (MgCl2) is much less then what this recipe calls for.

Both are considered “Bitters”, so experimenting with the LEAST of either coagulant resulting in best product is key to avoiding a bitter taste.

I too took out about half (6 Cups) for other uses, and left the remaining 8 Cups for tofu.

Knowing I needed less of the NIGARI, my husband and I determined 2 tsp dissolved in ½ cup water might do the trick.

I also saw the YouTube video where the women making the tofu used a separate container (larger then the other) to quickly drop-pour the hot Soy Milk into the other pot containing the dissolved coagulant (I placed my receiving pot on a clean towel on my clean kitchen floor). I gave it a swirl put the lid on, and left it for 10 – 15 min….. it worked great, and made 18.2 oz of tofu.

In this recipe it was not clarified if you need 2T of Epsom Salt for a full batch or just the half of the batch of soymilk he made into tofu…. I assume it was for a full bach, and you can nock the Epsom Salts down to 1T for a half bach, but I suppose that’s another experiment…..

As far as Costs:

4lb bag of dried Soy Beans ($5.95) found at my local Asian market works out to $1.49/pound for comparison shoppers. 4lbs of beans measure approx 10 Cups equaling $0.60/cup. 3 Cups/Batch = $1.80 plus Nigari, Epsom salt, or lemon…. Throw in $0.25/batch for an estimated total of $2.05/batch.

Each ($2.05) batch produces:

(A) Approx 3 pounds of OKARA to add to recipes, plus (B) 14 Cups of Soy Milk = 3 Quarts plus 1 Pint …. Almost shy a gallon

Or

(A) Approx 3 pounds of OKARA, plus (B) 6 Cups of Soy Milk = 1 Quarts plus 1 Pint, and (C) using 8cups of Soy Milk = 18.2 oz or just over 1 lb of tofu

Or

(A) Approx 3 pounds of OKARA, plus (B) using 14 cups of Soy Milk = approx 32 oz 2lbs of tofu.

**** Most bricks in the store come in 8oz, this recipe if used only for making tofu would equal 4 regular size tofu bricks (and with the additional bonus of 3 pounds of Okara, which I may use 1:1 with beef in tacos or meat loaf to stretch a meat/protein dollar) for only $2.00 is worth the work in my book.
Here is another great site for tofu making.... and using nagari

Part 1: Making Soy Milk
http://www.justhungry.com/2006/03/milking_the_soy.html
Part 2: Making Tofu
http://www.justhungry.com/2006/03/milking_the_soy_1.html
Part 3: Using Akara
http://www.justhungry.com/2006/04/milking_the_soy.html
Experiment #1 with tofu made with nigari instead of epsoms salt was partially successful..... the texture was perfect, the taste too bitter.... next batch I will use 1/2 of what I used and post my findings.... "less is more"
pschuppan2 years ago
Hi, your instructions are very good. if anyone is concerned about using epsom salts (MgSo), don't be.... it is safe to ingest in small amounts such as this recipe, actually adding nutrients to the product, and has long been used for internal and external medicinal purposes, and plant food for tomatos. Google it if you have any further conserns. It is a very simillar chemical coagulant used in japanese tofu called nigari (MgCl2), not to be confused with nigiri (rice)
sacarlson2 years ago
Some comments from my experiences.

1. I use about 1 lb of dried beans and get at least 1 1/2 lbs of extra firm tofu.
2. I strain my okara before heating. I picked that up from a youtube video and it makes it less likely to over flow the pot
3. Please pay close attention once the temperature gets above ~160F. Stir a lot to keep it from rolling over the pot.
4. I dissolve my nigari in another pot and pour the cooked milk in all at once from about 2 feet high. May seem odd, but this caused a very even mixture and I get a very consistent curd when it sets. No uncurdled spots.

5. I sewed my own straining bags and pressing bags from muslin, to fit the containers better.
6. I use the okara to make omlettes that even my kids love.
7. I clean the bags by boiling in water for a couple minutes once everything is done.
8. I have a pressing box (got it as a gift) and use 3 paver bricks as weight. They are wrapped in plastic wrap, and taped shut. I use one brick that was cut short (during my driveway project) first, as it fits in the pressing block

mikeinternet (author)  sacarlson2 years ago
These are all excellent notes, especially the tips on avoiding a boil-over. I would suggest using a very large pot. I make double batches in a 22-quart pot.

Thanks!
k24tea2 years ago
I just found your Instructable, a year after you posted it. Thanks for this! I have a question I didn't see addressed in the comments up to this date: Would you get the same results using soy FLOUR instead of soaking and then grinding the whole soybeans? Seems like soy flour would be a lot quicker (less time soaking) and easier (no grinding after soaking). I have both soy flour and soy grits, but no whole beans. It's a loooong way to buy them around here so I don't want to ruin what I already have. Is anybody using SOY FLOUR to make tofu?
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