Did you know that tempeh can be made from any type of lentil or bean? In fact bean tempeh is so much easier to make than soybean tempeh, because it doesn’t involve the work of cracking and dehulling. So, bean tempeh is the perfect type of tempeh for beginners.
Making lentil and bean tempeh
I have already written a few posts on tempeh, so for this post, I am going to focus on how to specifically make lentil, chickpea or bean tempeh. For information on the type of container to ferment in, and how to maintain the incubation temperature read my posts on sunflower seed tempeh or soybean tempeh.
Lentils tempeh isn’t as firm as other forms of tempeh. It has an earthy and rich flavour, so I usually serve lentil tempeh diced up on top of pasta or as a layer in a lasagna.
How to prepare lentils for tempeh:
- Use whole lentils, not split lentils which tend to disappear when cooked.
- Boil lentils until just cooked (about 15 minutes for brown, green or French lentils). Your lentils need to still hold their shape to create a nice firm tempeh.
- Lentils tend to hold onto a lot of extra moisture, so be sure to drain well, and continue stirring them while they cool so that excess moisture will evaporate.
Chickpea tempeh is very similar to soybean tempeh. It has a similar colour, shape and texture. The only trick to making chickpea tempeh is that you need to use small chickpeas, or it will be too difficult for the tempeh mold to penetrate the beans.
How to prepare chickpeas for tempeh:
- Buy the smallest chickpeas you can find (aim for the size of a soybean).
- Soak the chickpeas for 6 to 8 hours.
- Boil the chickpeas until soft, but not mushy (about 40-50 minutes depending on the size of your chickpea).
Bean tempeh is a lot of fun. Here’s where you get to be creative! Black beans will make a dark grey tempeh. Navy or white beans make a nice tan coloured tempeh. I like mixing my bean tempeh with a 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds or sesame seeds. The mix of seeds and beans gives the tempeh a delicious flavour and to turns it into a complete protein. The only trick to making bean tempeh is to avoid using beans that are too large or have a thick skin as these will not culture very well.
- Use small beans like black beans, black-eyed peas or mung beans. Large beans like kidney beans or great northern white beans won’t culture very well. Lima beans and broad beans have a thick skin which won’t allow the tempeh mold to grow.
- Soak the beans for 6 to 8 hours.
- Boil the beans until soft, but not mushy (about 60-75 minutes). If you are going to use sunflower seeds, boil them with the beans.
- 2 cups of beans or lentils
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp tempeh starter
- Prepare the beans or lentils as described above.
- After cooking the lentils/beans, drain them, and allow to cool to just above room temperature. Toss 3-4 times during the cooling process so that they dry off as they cool.
- Mix in the vinegar, then sprinkle on your tempeh starter and mix well.
- Fill your fermentation container.
- Incubate at approximately 88 F (31 C).
- Check after 12 hours. At this point the mold will have started to grow and the tempeh will start generating its own heat. Depending on what you are using for incubation, you may need to lower the temperature.
- The tempeh will be done sometime between 24 and 48 hours. It's done when the mold has thickened the lentils/beans into a single dense mass. (There might be some grey or black mold too, but you want to stop incubation before there's too much black mold.)
- Either eat the tempeh raw within 3 days or steam it to halt the fermentation.
-You can find tempeh spores online. If you plan on making lots of tempeh I recommend making your own tempeh starter.
-Black and gray spots may appear on the tempeh. These are the mold spores, and they are completely edible. Delicious tempeh should smell nutty and mushroomy. It might have a hint of ammonia.
-Steam tempeh for 20 minutes to halt fermentation. Steamed tempeh will last for 1 week in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.