How to Make Tofu

How to make and serve your own tofu.

| September/October 1976

Click on the Image Gallery for this article to see referenced figures.

From The Book of Tofu, copyright 1975 by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi. Excerpts used by permission of Autumn Press, Inc.

Making Tofu at Home

If you find that fresh tofu is not available at a nearby store, try preparing your own at home using either whole soybeans or powdered soymilk. It's as enjoyable as baking bread ... and considerably faster.

We have found the following recipe, based on the traditional Japanese farmhouse method, to be easy to follow and virtually foolproof. The tofu will be ready 50 to 60 minutes after you start. One pound of soybeans yields about 3-1/2 to 4 pounds of tofu at a cost about one-third to one-fourth that of commercial tofu and less than one-half the cost (on a usable protein basis) of hamburger. Solidified with nigari (the mineral-rich mother liquor that remains after salt is extracted from seawater ... also known as "bittern"), made from soymilk simmered over an open fire (rather than steamed), and served at its peak of freshness, homemade tofu contains a fullness of flavor and subtle sweetness seldom found in even the finest store-bought varieties.

Utensils Needed for Making Tofu

To make fine homemade tofu, you will need the following common kitchen tools (see Fig. 1) and ingredients:

An electric blender, food or grain mill, or meat grinder.
A "pressing pot" with a capacity of 1-1/2 to 2 gallons, or a basin of comparable size.
A 2-quart saucepan.
A wooden spatula, rice paddle, or wooden spoon with a long handle.
A shallow ladle or dipper about 1 inch deep and 3 or 4 inches in diameter, or a large spoon.
A rubber spatula
A sturdy 1 -quart jar or a potato masher
A 1-cup measuring cup
A set of measuring spoons.
A large, round-bottomed colander (that will fit into the "pressing pot").
A flat-bottomed colander ("settling container") preferably square or rectangular.
A shallow fine-mesh strainer or bamboo colander. (zaru)
A coarsely woven cotton dishcloth, 2 feet square, or a "pressing sack".
A 2-foot square of cheesecloth, or a light cotton dish towel of comparable dimensions.

Two special pieces of equipment, both easy to assemble, will make the work even easier:

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