Making your own Tempeh


Shop bought Tempeh – well, Ebay to be honest

Tempeh is an Indonesian thing.  Basically its fermented soybean cake, and is used as a high protein (it’s complete protein too) additive to the food armory for vegetarians and vegans.  Although its so yummy, even my very carnivore husband loves it too.

I bought some from Ebay to try out, and we both loved it.

Now I know this and enjoyed our first tempeh meal experience, I don’t ever intend to purchase it again on line, as it was about £8 for 400g of the stuff.   I fully intend to make my own instead.

Tempeh is much nicer than tofu, as it actually has a taste to start off with.  It’s firm, but spongy, and has a mushroomy flavour to it.  Cut into slices, steamed before use (although it can be eaten uncooked as well), it absorbs flavours very well indeed.  It has a short shelf life – about a week, but can be easily frozen in batches and brought out when required.  Can be made into faux sausage, faux burgers, it can be grated on a cheese grater to be added into a bolognaise as well, there is no end to its talents!

To make tempeh you require bacterial culture.  I bought mine from here, and I followed their instructions on making it as well:

Tempeh Culture

For every 500g of dried soya beans, you only need a teaspoon or 5g of culture to end up with a huge 1kg cake of tempeh.


Ingredient list:

500g soya beans or any other bean you fancy too, chickpeas work as well.

Four tablespoons of vinegar

5g tempeh culture

Method for Tempe

  • First of all take your soya beans and soak these in a large bowl totally submerged in water for at least 12 hours or longer
  • De-hull the beans, by rubbing off their skins.

I used both hands, and scrubbed the beans, and I used a potato masher too.  The skins are supposed to float to the surface.  Mind didn’t, so I filled the bowl with water, swirled the beans as if I was panning for gold, and hey presto the lighter skins were thrown to the surface and I allowed them to flow out with the water into a sieve for the compost heat.  Red kidney beans and chick peas do not need this process as their outside husks are soft and edible.


This pic shows the bean ‘husks’

  • Cook the beans, I used a pressure cooker for 10 minutes on high pressure.
  • Remove your beans after cooking, and allow them to cool.  Remove from their cooking water, and dry off the beans with kitchen roll, then place the dry beans into a bowl and add your vinegar.  Vinegar lowers the pH and thus helps to reduce the growth of unwanted bacteria and fungi.

IMG_1282Cooked beans on kitchen roll

  • Add your tempeh culture to your beans and mix in to make sure its all even throughout your beany mixture.
  • Take some food bags, pref with zip locks on them, and using a fork or kitchen scissors put holes into the bag about 3 cm apart – this allows oxygen to circulate.
  • Fill your bags with the beans, and flatten the bags out and close the ‘zip’.

The bags should be no deeper with beans than 3 cm.  This is to ensure the culture can get everywhere, and that enough oxygen is available right into the centre of your brewing tempeh.

Now incubate these:IMG_1287

I used my kitchen hostess trolley, on cool with the door slightly ajar, thermometer is a must as the temperature has to be right – too cool and the mycelium will not grow, too hot, and the mycelium will die.

Ideal temperature is 30-32C and your tempeh needs to be at this for 24 hours, then the temperature reduced to about 25-28C for another 24 hours.

After the first 24 hours, you should see a white mycelium film appearing on the beans, this is just what your looking for.

Another 12 hours later and the mycelium will start to really thicken up, it will form a dense white layer covering all the beans inside and out, and build them into a dense, but firm and spongy ‘cake’.

Once your happy with the outcome, ie it looks like the picture above, remove your bagged up tempeh from your oven or other warm place – my mum would have used her airing cupboard, but folks don’t have these these days any longer.

Refrigeration will slow down the growth of your mycelium, and your tempeh is ready to rock and roll into your cooking.  It can be frozen for future use…  Just brewed, it keeps for 1 week.  But it can freeze successfully too.

To freeze tempeh, cut into slices, and steam it for 20 minutes or so.  Cool and then bag up and freeze.  It should keep for up to 3 months.

IMG_1286You don’t have to just stick with soya beans, it works with kidney beans (I pressure cooked these after soaking for 12 minutes to ensure the beans we’re properly cooked – raw kidney beans are poisonous to eat



I made one batch of soya, and one batch using red kidney beans.



The bag was a little large, 250g of the mix went into each bag, next time, this bag will comfortably take at least another 100g of bean mix.


Picture on the right is the finished red kidney bean tempeh, the middle pic are both types cut in half, and the final picture shows the finished tempeh still bagged up.

IMG_1307This picture shows both types steamed, and ready for the marinade they are going into.

Costs of making home made tempeh compared with my purchase from Ebay.

November 2015 – costs to make tempeh.

500g of soya beans cost me £2.25, I used

Vinegar 2 tablespoons = 20p

Culture from Belgium = 14 Euros delivered (about £10.) this gave me 25g, and they recommend up to 5g per 500g of beans

Total cost of making Soya Bean Tempeh was £4.45

The yeild was 1Kg 124g of Soya bean tempeh in total.


Kidney bean Tempeh

500g of red kidney beans (Tesco) was £1.21

Vinegar about 20p

Culture £2.00

Total cost £3.41 for a yeild of 1kg 176g of kidney bean tempeh


Time consuming:  Well, no and yes.  It took 12 hours of bean soaking, about 20 minutes to de-hull the soy beans, but this is not necessary if you use red kidney beans or chickpeas.  Drying and bagging the beans about another 15 minutes.  Then two days of waiting.  So you need to be organised and know in advance when you want to make your tempeh.

I think it was well worth the wait. So much cheaper to make your own than to buy it.

This evening my husband and I had ‘Gardner’s Pie’ using about 300g of our first home made tempeh.  It tastes much the same as the bought stuff.  But a LOT cheaper.  And I do love a bargain!









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