I will admit I was not looking forward to this project as I kind of detest tempeh (at least store bought) and I have been traumatized from all the times I forced myself to eat it when I was a vegetarian. I kept an open mind though and enjoyed the taste of home fermented tempeh more than I thought I would. It was really good and definitely better than conventional tempeh. I don’t think it will be a ferment I keep in my rotation, but I am still glad to have experienced the tedious and Zen-like process of making it and can appreciate the labor of love and patience that goes into it.
1 cup of black eye peas
1 tbsp vinegar (white distilled)
½ packet of tempeh inoculant
Date Prepared: November 25, 2017
Date Harvested: November 28, 2017
Length of Ferment: 66 hours
I soaked black eye peas for 10 hours and dehulled them. I cooked them for around 10 minutes on a low rolling boil. Since all the beans were split in half when the hulls were being removed, I reduced the cooking time to avoid mushy beans.
I strained the beans and allowed them to dry between towels. I finished drying them off by using a hair dryer to evaporate off the last of the liquid and make sure beans were warm for inoculation. I added the vinegar and tossed until evenly covered and mixed in the tempeh starter culture from Cultures for Health.
I poked holes in a quart sized zip lock freezer bag and filled it with the inoculated beans. I placed it in my oven with a heat mat on the lower rack and the beans on the higher rack next to the oven light. I was able to maintain the temperature range of 90-100º for the most part. It did drop to 85º during the cooler part of the night/early morning but not for very long.
The white mycelium coating was noticeable at 24-hours but I noticed some brown spots after 2 days of fermenting. After 66-hours, the tempeh was finished. It fermented into a nice, thin and firm bean patty. I just cut off the brown spots and cooked up the good sections in a rice and veggie stir fry.
The tempeh did taste much better than I expected and remembered from my vegetarian days. It had a nutty and mildly earthy smell and flavor. It wasn’t my favorite ferment and if I make it again, I will do it during the summer months when it will be easier to maintain the ideal temperature range, or I will wait until I invest in a dehydrator with a lower setting.
As it was fermenting, I noticed a few brown spots which formed in the places where I stuck the thermometer to gauge the temperature and make sure it was not getting too hot. I just cut off the brown spots and cooked up the rest of the tempeh.
What Would I Do/Try Differently Next Time:
In the future, I will only test the temperature of the environment and won’t pierce the bag as I am very certain that is what caused the browning to occur. I will also work on creating a better chamber to ferment it in, possibly an ice chest with a heat mat or lamp with a fan for better air circulation. It was a little inconvenient going so long without being able to use my oven.
I will also avoid smashing the beans as much as I did when I was shaping them to the bag to maintain more of a whole bean consistency in the finished tempeh.
I soaked black eye peas for 10 hours.
Removing the hulls….a Zen meditation.
Cooked for 10 minutes, strained and dried.
Plastic bag with air holes poked throughout it.
Beans tossed in vinegar and ready to be inoculated with a tempeh starter culture.
Ready to ferment in the oven with a heat mat and light on to maintain ideal 95º temperature.
White mycelium coating at 24 hours of fermenting.
Brown spots forming after 2 days.
66 hours of fermenting and I have a nice thin and solid fermented bean patty (tempeh).
I cut off the good sections, discarding the brown spots and cooked it up.
We have been craving some Mongolian style beef stir fry so I figured I would use tempeh instead of meet for our dinner.
I pan seared the tempeh in coconut oil with onion, burdock sticks and carrot slices. Once the tempeh was brown on both sides and onions were caramelized, I added in zucchini, chard and the sauce, covered and allowed it to simmer for 10 minutes on low.
Served over rice (see image above).
It was delicious!!