Introduction: Easy Organic Sprouted Tempeh

Tempeh is a super nutritious food made from soybeans! It is also almost as protein-dense as chicken, and very easy to make.

This recipe details how to make 2.5 lbs of Tempeh from less than $6 worth of ingredients.

Sprouting the soybeans before making Tempeh adds to the nutrient content, protein, amino acids, and digestibility! It's very easy to do and makes the cooking process shorter, so why not take the extra step? I'll walk you through it :)


  • 3 cups of dry organic soybeans. Generally smaller is better and if you can get them already dehulled then Step 3 will be even easier!
    • I buy organic soybeans from Mulberry Lane Farm in Illinois. You can purchase them directly from their website and they will ship anywhere in the US.
  • 1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar (white vinegar also works).
  • 1 tsp Tempeh starter.
    • I bought my first package (10g) of starter, here.
    • Once you've made Tempeh, you can use it to create your own starter by following this guide.
  • See Step 4 for the supplies required for a simple fermentation chamber.

Step 1: Sprouting the Soybeans

  1. Get yourself an Easy Sprouter. It's a life-changing tool for easily soaking and sprouting all kinds of nuts, seeds, and beans.
  2. Fill the easy sprouter with 1 cup of dry soybeans and then fill to the top with water.
  3. Cap it and let sit for 12 - 24 hours.
  4. Drain the water (I recommend feeding it to your plants) and let sit for another 18 - 36 hours.
  5. Once most of the beans have sprouts coming out of them, you can remove them from the Easy Sprouter and either store them in the fridge for up to a week, or the freezer for several months.
  6. Repeat steps 2 - 5 twice more so that you end up with 3 cups of sprouted soybeans.

TIP: Vegetables that are stored in glass (such as mason jars or Pyrex) will last much longer in the refrigerator than vegetables stored in plastic.

Step 2: Ready the Molds!

I do my best to minimize my landfill contribution, so I elected to reuse store-bought Tofu containers as molds for my Tempeh. I used a 1/16" drill bit to drill holes spaced about 1/2" (pinky-finger-width-distance) apart. I found that the soybeans fit perfectly into 3 molds.

Tip: If you're using multiple containers that are similarly sized, you can stack them inside each other and drill the holes for them all at once!

You can also use banana leaves as the container if you have access to them (no banana trees in Wisconsin unfortunately) or plastic Ziploc bags. Use a toothpick to poke the breathing holes.

Step 3: Cooking the Soybeans

  1. Add the sprouted soybeans to a large pot (here is the one I use) and cover with water. Heat on medium heat until boiling.
  2. If you are using soybeans that have the hulls attached, then once the water is boiling, the hulls will separate from the soybeans and float to the surface. Use a strainer or spoon to scoop them out. If you used pre-hulled soybeans then you can skip this step (lucky you!).
  3. Once most of the hulls have been removed, add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and cook for 30 minutes to an hour longer.
  4. Once the beans are able to be crushed between your fingers (with some pressure) drain the water through a strainer (probably not a good idea to use this water for plants because of the added vinegar).
  5. Dry off the beans as much as possible by stirring them in the pot above medium heat. Be sure not to brown them! They just need to be mostly dry, so leave your perfectionism outside of the kitchen.
  6. Let cool to about 90 - 95F (you can use a kitchen thermometer such as this one to measure the temperature)
  7. Sprinkle 1 tsp of Tempeh starter over the soybeans and stir them for a minute to inoculate all the beans.

Step 4: Prepare for Moldy Beans!

Once the beans have been inoculated with Tempeh starter then it's time to package them into molds and begin the fermentation process!

  1. Scoop the beans into each mold and pat down with a spoon.
  2. Cover with a piece of plastic. I re-used some Press N Seal (surprisingly, it's still sticky after washing).
  3. Poke holes in the plastic using a toothpick.

Next, we'll create a simple fermentation chamber. You'll need the following:

  • A clean towel to set on the floor.
  • A heater (I got this 14W reptile heater for $11).
  • A temperature-controlled outlet (I got this one for $16).
  • A clean box at least 12" x 8" x 5" I used a plastic bin, but a cardboard box would also work well.
  • Standoffs to set each of the Tempeh containers onto (I used some scrap foam).
  1. Clean off the surface of the heater, the inside of the box, the temperature probe, and the standoffs.
  2. Set the heater on the towel and the standoffs on the heater.
  3. Attach the temperature probe to the inside of the box.
  4. Place the Tempeh containers on the standoffs.
  5. Cover the Tempeh containers with the box.
  6. Set the temperature to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 5: Harvest Time

After 2 - 3 days the soybeans will be covered with white mold. This is the ideal time to harvest!

Simply remove the Tempeh molds from the fermentation chamber and pop out the compact Tempeh. From here, you can put it in the refrigerator for up to a week, the freezer for up to 3 months, cut it up and eat it right away (you don't even have to cook it!), steam it, fry it, or bake it!

Here is a plethora of recipes to get you started cooking with Tempeh.

Note that the Tempeh is still good to eat if it has gray or black mold. The tempeh should smell nutty, mushroomy, and it might have a hint of ammonia. If it smells bad, is mushy or slimy, then the only mouths it should feed are those of the worms in your compost pile.

Happy Tempeh making!

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