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Make Your Own Tofu

May 3, 2012

You might not end up with a square block of tofu, but that’s okay because you made it yourself. To make tofu at home, all you need are dried soybeans, water, coagulant and some time. It would make a good weekend project. Today I made “five-color” tofu (gomoku-dofu) with five different vegetables – carrots, burdock root, sesame seeds, green seaweed and peas. You could of course make the tofu plain with nothing in it at all and that’s what I would recommend at first.

Homemade Tofu

(recipe adapted from the Book of Tofu by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi)

1 1/2 cups dried soybeans, soaked in 6-8 cups water overnight


coagulant choices: 2 teaspoons magnesium chloride or 2 teaspoons powdered nigari or 2 teaspoons Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) or 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Soak the soybeans overnight in 6-8 cups of water. The soybeans really soak up water and get at least twice as big. After soaking the beans overnight, drain and rinse the beans.

Put half the soybeans in the blender with 2 cups of water and puree for 1 or 2 minutes. (Don’t let the motor overheat, like mine did). The consistency will be thick and frothy, just like a smoothie. Blend the other half of the soybeans in another 2 cups of water. Use filtered or spring water.

Put the pureed soybeans in 8 cups of boiling water. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Watch carefully because the mixture will be frothy and will overboil very easily. This soybean mixture is called “Go.”

Strain the pulp through a sieve lined with a cheesecloth or thin cloth. Catch the soymilk in a large bowl underneath.

Squeeze the pulp through the cloth and remove as much soymilk as you can. This is concentrated soymilk that will be used for making tofu. Put this aside. To get more soymilk from the pulp, I added extra hot water to the pulp and did a second “squeezing” which gave me soymilk for drinking. (Cook the soymilk for drinking and add sugar or flavorings if you want). Save the soybean pulp or “okara” left in the bag. Here’s a post on using okara.

Back to making tofu.

Put the soymilk back on the stove and bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat. (I added vegetables to my tofu at this point, but you can leave them out). At this point, add the coagulant of choice (nigari, Epsom Salt, cider vinegar, see above) dissolved in 1 cup of water. Add the coagulant mixture 1/3 of a cup at a time, stirring all the while.  Cover and let the soymilk sit for 2 minutes. Add more coagulant while stirring and let it sit another 2 minutes. You should begin to see the soymilk curdle. Add the remaning coagulant and stir. When all the soymilk has curdled, your liquid (or whey) should become translucent.

Strain the tofu curds in a flat-bottomed colander (or a tofu settling container if you have one) lined with cheesecloth or a coarsely woven cloth. Bring the cloth over the top of it and put a weight on it to push the excess water out of it. After 10 or 15 minutes, you can remove the weight and put the tofu in cold water to firm up. My tofu is pretty firm, so I didn’t put it in water. Invert the tofu onto a plate and remove the cheesecloth. You’ve made tofu!

My tofu is round like the shape of my steamer.

To serve fresh tofu, cut it into blocks  and serve with soy sauce and some condiments such as grated daikon, ginger, wasabi or minced green onion. Katsuo bushi (fish flakes) is also a traditional topping.

Another way to eat five-color tofu is to deep-fry it, thick age-style. The name of this special dish is called Gomoku-dofu. Happy tofu eating! Emi

  1. Making your own tofu can be fun. I never thought of it.

    • The good thing about the tofu-making process is that you can produce soymilk, whey and okara. So much food and nutrients at very little cost.


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