If you’ve made tempeh, then you’re well on your way to making tempeh starter! Here’s how to make and store your homemade tempeh culture.
It is not always easy to purchase a tempeh starter. Especially if you live on an island off of the west coast of Canada. So I recommend learning how to save tempeh culture for future use!
It’s the easiest way to make sure you have plenty of culture for your homemade batches of tempeh!
A few notes on the recipe
Fermenting For Foodies readers have been understandably concerned around exactly how to save tempeh starter culture.
Here are some more details about the most common questions and concerns.
It can take quite a while for tempeh to dry out. Here are a few tips and tricks that might be helpful.
- The tempeh must be in a heated container or oven to properly spore. So taking the lid off the container and allowing it to air out should be sufficient to dry the tempeh.
- If you are concerned, feel free to use a dehydrator set below 104F (40C). This is cool enough that it won’t kill the culture.
- Contamination isn’t usually a concern unless you specifically have mold issues in your home. Then I recommend drying in a dehydrator so that it goes quickly.
- If you discover your starter is a bit paste-like after grinding, then just allow it to dry out for another few hours and grind again.
- Avoid making starter from lentil tempeh, because lentil tempeh tends to be moister than other varieties.
How much homemade starter to use
Homemade tempeh starter should be every bit as potent as a store-bought culture. So use 1 tsp for a pound of beans.
If it takes a bit longer to culture than you are used to, then feel free to increase this amount to 2 or 3 tsp per pound of beans.
Where can you get tempeh starter?
This recipe does require an active tempeh culture. It’s basically taking the culture and allowing it to spore so that you can use it for future batches of tempeh.
If this is your first time making tempeh, then the best option is to buy a starter online.
I’m often asked whether store-bought tempeh can be used to make starter. Here are a few ways to determine whether store-bought tempeh still has live culture:
- Most tempeh is steamed to prevent it from sporing. If the tempeh is in the refrigerated section or bulk-packaged then it likely has been steamed to kill the mold.
- If you have a local producer, ask them if they will sell you fresh, raw tempeh.
- Frozen tempeh may still be alive as well. It’s worth testing!
Tempeh Starter Culture
It’s easy to save tempeh starter so that you can make future batches. The process is exactly the same as making tempeh! Just follow these simple instructions to make your own tempeh culture.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 2 1/2 cups
- Category: Culture
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Indonesian
- Diet: Vegan
- One batch of homemade tempeh
- Tempeh starter is made by allowing tempeh to ferment for longer than 24 hours. Start by making your favorite type of tempeh. If you don’t have a preference, I recommend soybean tempeh because it is great for feeding the culture. However, other beans and seeds can be used to make a starter culture.
- Store-bought tempeh cannot typically be used to make a starter culture. It is usually steamed to prevent the mold from sporing. So for your very first batch of tempeh, I recommend buying the culture online.
- To save the culture, instead of stopping the fermentation after 24 hours, continue to ferment until the mold spores. You will know that the mold has spored when the tempeh goes from being white to grey and black. Black is the color of the mold spores. It will take approximately 60 hours of fermenting to have a good batch of mold spores.
- After the mold has spored, take the lid off of the fermenting container to allow the tempeh to dry out. This takes about 2 to 3 in the incubation box.
- When the tempeh is dry, use a blender to pulverize the tempeh into dust that can be used as a starter for future batches of tempeh.
- Store the starter in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 year.
- See the section above for more in-depth details about some of these steps.
- Make sure that everything is very clean so that you have a good strong culture. While this is always a good practice when fermenting, it’s even more important when saving culture.
- The strength of the tempeh starter will depend on how many mold spores grew before you dehydrated the tempeh. You may find that your own saved mold spores grow more quickly or slowly than the store-bought spores. When using your homemade tempeh starter you should adjust the culturing time as necessary.
Keywords: culture, saving, mold, spores, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, egg free, dairy free, nut free, frugal, protein