Tempeh Starter Culture

How to save tempeh spores to make your own culture

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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.


  • One batch of homemade tempeh


  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Store the starter in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 year.
  7. 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