Three Bean Tempeh

Three Bean Tempeh

Don’t know about tempeh yet? It is coming and it is going to take the world by storm! Get ahead of the game and into the action with this three bean tempeh!

Three Bean Tempeh

A couple of years ago I was introduced to kefir and have been using it in absolutely everything possible.  Whenever I would tell people, I would be faced with these blank stares… kefir?… never heard of it… Then something happened.  Kefir got hot (well, as hot as a fermented food could go).  It was riding on the back of the kombucha craze and started appearing in more and more supermarkets. Just today as I did my weekly staples shop at the big bulk store, I came across a whole fridge full of mass produced kefir.  It is mainstream but I was all over it years ago.  The same thing is going to happen with tempeh, I can feel it!.

Tempeh is a fermented soy produce from Indonesia but it is so much more than that.  You essentially impregnate the soybeans with a specific strain of fungus and it grows into a firm cake that can then be steamed or fried or seared.  People seem to lump it into the same category as tofu but it is really so much more than that.  As a vegetarian, I am over tofu.  I have a few well loved recipes for it, but I need a little variety in my protein sources.  There is something in tempeh that leaves me craving for more.  It goes phenomenally well with a tangy barbecue sauce  or a sticky asian glaze.  This is a fantastic protein source and is primed to take on popular culture.

The problem with tempeh (if you can call it a problem) is that the homemade stuff is always better than the store bought.  I don’t know the exact scientific reasoning, but the stuff that comes out of my food dehydrator is nuttier and creamier and just better.  It is more than worth the work that goes into it and so every few weeks I roll up my sleeves and I get to work.

Three Bean TempehThe traditional way to make tempeh is to take soybeans, soak them over night to soften, remove the outer hulls, cook them, toss them in to the starter and then leave them grow for a couple of days in a heat controlled environment (simple right).  The most painstaking part is the removal of the hulls.  I have heard that you can buy pre-hulled soy beans but I don’t actually mind the work.  There is something really satisfying about spending a little work on something and you can sit yourself down on the couch in front of the TV and work away at it.  You are also going to need to get your hands on the starter and this has proven more difficult than I first imagined.  I source mine online here. 

Once you get the hand go it, it is time to play around with the beans.  The straight soy tempeh is rich and creamy, nutty and perfect but why stop there?  I few different beans here and there add a little intrigue.  Time to raid the pantry! 

For this batch, I chose some European Soldier Beans  and a few Anasazi Beans.  I decided to do half of those and then the other half soybeans to keep some of the soy qualities.  Yum!  If you are not sure what to do bean-wise, take a trip to your local organic store and wander through the bulk isle.  Once you get over the sticker shock, remember that you only need a cup of beans and a cup of soy beans.  This should not cost you the farm.


Once your beans are soaked and you have removed the hulls, just follow the instructions on the tempeh started and you are on your way.  I use a food dehydrator on it’s lowest setting with a thermometer sticking out and turn it on and off to try to keep the temperature between 85-95 degrees.  This can seem intimidating but just do what you can.  I have also found that after about 24 hours, the cake begins to form and then starts to produce it’s own heat and you don’t need to turn on the dehydrator any longer. My tempeh tends to take about 36 hours to get nice and firm.  It should be white and solid. 

If you are up for some fun, get to know tempeh and give making it yourself a try.  Mix it up, watch it grow and enjoy!  Your body will thank you!

Three Bean Tempeh



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2 Responses to Three Bean Tempeh

  1. Oh I’ve been wanting to make tempeh and this post gives me the nudge that I need. I have a couple of questions … 1) where do you get your starter? I’ve heard that one needs to be careful because there’s a been a strain of bacteria in some starters that makes the tempeh unhealthy. Do you have a favorite source for the starter? 2) I’ve read that the mixture has to be well ventilated. What kind of container do you use for the mixture which will fit into the dehydrator? Thanks so much … I’m excited to give this a try!!!

    • Hi Cyndi,
      I am glad that you are wanting to give it a try! I buy my starter online at Upaya Naturals because there are not too many places in my area that stock it.
      Ventilation is really important and so I use ziplock sandwich bags. I first put them on a clean cutting board and use the tip of a knife to pike little holes in them ever couple of inches. This will give you the right amount of ventilation for the tempeh when it is in the dehydrator.
      I hope that it works out for you!

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