If you're a vegetarian or a vegan, you've probably encountered tempeh as a meat replacement in some dishes. Whether you're already a fan or simply looking to try new alternatives to meat, we've researched a lot about tempeh and the different ways you can store and enjoy it in this article.
Storing tempeh requires that it is kept in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. You can also put the tempeh in the freezer and it will last for about 3 months. When opened, tempeh should always be placed in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
We know that tempeh might be something new to most people, so we've researched all that you need to know about this superfood. Do keep on reading as we talk about the proper way to store tempeh and its shelf life, as well as its differences from other meat alternatives.
How to Store Tempeh
Tempeh is a block of soybeans, pressed together and fermented to create this superfood. This block of soybean goodness is known to have more protein, iron, and fiber, elevating it to the level of superfood status.
For many vegans and vegetarians, tempeh is another great alternative to meat alongside its very close cousin, tofu. However, some people prefer tempeh because it gives off an earthier and more savory flavor. It also has more probiotics (because of the fermentation process) which makes it healthier.
If you've ever seen tempeh in your markets and you wanted to try it, you might be wondering how to store this superfood. Fortunately, tempeh is easy to keep, and here are some of the best ways to store tempeh.
Keep pasteurized tempeh in an airtight container inside the refrigerator before and after opening. It is important to keep it airtight to prevent mold from growing in your tempeh. You can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 7 days, but always make sure to check the expiration date on the package.
If you've made or bought unpasteurized tempeh, make sure to wrap it in parchment or wax paper to allow air to circulate for further fermentation. This uncooked tempeh will last in the refrigerator for about 7-10 days.
To make your tempeh last longer, you can keep it in the freezer. Put your uncooked or unopened tempeh in an airtight container (you can use a resealable freezer-safe Ziplock bag or a freezer-safe container.) Tempeh placed inside the freezer can last for up to 10-12 months.
For cooked tempeh, you should store it inside an airtight plastic container and keep it in the refrigerator. It will be good for up to 5-7 days as long as it is properly stored.
How Long Will Tempeh Last After Opening?
Of course, when buying tempeh, it doesn't mean that you will end up using everything in just one go. Unopened tempeh lasts for a good week inside the refrigerator, but what about opened tempeh?
Opened tempeh will last in the refrigerator for up 5-7 days if properly stored in a clean, dry airtight container. You can also freeze it by similarly storing it in an airtight container, but it would be best to consume tempeh as soon as possible.
However, if you plan to store opened tempeh for longer than a week, here are some quick ways to lengthen its shelf life.
- For homemade, unpasteurized tempeh, cook it in a 200°F pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes to pasteurize it. If your tempeh is store-bought and has already been handled, microwave it for 5 minutes or steam it for about 10 minutes. This will kill the surface bacteria on your tempeh.
- Slice or cube your tempeh to your preference.
- Place your tempeh in a single layer on a sheet pan and freeze for about 1-3 hours. Make sure to put it in the coldest part of your freezer.
- Store your frozen tempeh in an airtight container and make sure to write the date.
- Remember to only take out the tempeh you will need for cooking. Leave the rest inside the freezer to make it last longer. NEVER re-freeze tempeh that has already been thawed beforehand.
How To Defrost Tempeh
Now that we know that tempeh is best kept in the freezer, there are questions on how you can safely defrost tempeh. Here is a quick way to defrost tempeh for use:
- From your stock of frozen tempeh, take out only as much as you need for your cooking. You must consume all the tempeh you will be thawing because it cannot be frozen again.
- If you have the time, you can defrost tempeh by placing it in the refrigerator overnight.
- You can also defrost your tempeh using the microwave. Place the tempeh in a microwave-safe container, without a cover. Microwave it on high for 1 minute.
- You can also steam the tempeh to thaw it. Place your frozen tempeh on a steamer and steam for 5 minutes until it is completely thawed.
How Is Tempeh Different From Tofu?
Tempeh and tofu are both made from the same plant source—soybeans. These two are both known as a source of protein for many vegan and vegetarian dishes, but there are also distinct differences between these two superfoods.
Tofu is more popular and widespread, and this is made from coagulated soy milk that is pressed into blocks. You can also get tofu in different textures like soft, silken, and firm tofu, depending on what you need to use in your dishes.
Tempeh, on the other hand, is made from compacted and fermented soybeans. They are typically made into a firm, dense cake that you can slice or crumble for cooking. Some tempeh also has varieties with added ingredients like quinoa, flax seeds, brown rice, or flavored with spices.
Tofu and tempeh also vary in nutritional profile. Tempeh is known to have more protein, fiber, iron, and potassium than tofu. Both soy products are low in sodium and cholesterol, which is perfect for those who are trying to limit these in their diets.
How To Cook Tempeh
With tempeh being a superfood, it is not surprising that you can cook it in different ways to add more flavor to your dishes. Tempeh's earthy, savory flavor can be enhanced with sauces, but it can also be eaten raw because you can enjoy the flavor better. This superfood takes in the flavor of whatever you add to it.
Tempeh also has a very chewy texture with a slightly nutty flavor, perfect as an addition to dishes like vegan bowls or chili. It adds a different dimension to the dish, giving it a flavor similar to meat. Here are some of the ways you can cook tempeh:
- Crumbled or Grated: crumble or grate your cooked tempeh as a ground meat substitute. You can add this to your favorite vegan bowls, chili recipes, or as an alternative to taco meat.
- Steaming: tempeh can have a strong flavor but it gets less intense and a little muted when it is steamed. Cook your tempeh in the steamer for 10 to 15 minutes and cook it however way you want afterward.
- Marinated: tempeh is known to absorb the flavors added to it, so it is a perfect vehicle to carry all those yummy marinades you have in mind. It absorbs the marinade well—you can cook your marinated tempeh after 2 hours, but for better flavor, you can cook it after marinating it overnight.
We know that trying to be healthy can be a little difficult, especially with all the delicious (but slightly unhealthy) food out there. If you are looking to add a little something new to your diet, why not try tempeh? You'll surely have a new addition to your dishes, packed with protein and nutrients that are good for your body.
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