Homemade pumpkin or sunflower seed tempeh is nutty and delicious. It is the perfect vegetarian and vegan protein. Since it is firmer and crunchier than traditional soybean tempeh, it is great for barbecues, stir-fries, and sandwiches.
Sunflower seed tempeh happens to be my favorite. I love the flavor and texture. It’s also nice to have an alternative to the beans, lentils, and tofu that make up most of our diet. Sunflower seeds are low carb, grain-free, and keto-friendly! What’s not to love?
Basic tempeh information
Here is some general advice about tempeh. I recommend starting here if it’s your first time making tempeh.
- Culture: Look for tempeh spores at an Indonesian grocery store or find them online. You only have to buy them once because it’s easy to make your own tempeh starter.
- Fermenting Container: Tempeh needs to be spread out in a 2 cm thick layer in a vented container for fermentation. If you plan on making a lot of tempeh invest in a plastic container, otherwise, use a plastic bag. Use a pushpin to poke holes at 1 cm intervals so the container/bag is properly vented.
- Incubation: Tempeh needs to be incubated at around 85-90 F. I use a folding fermentation box for all my heated ferments. Other options include: incubating in the oven with the light on, near a radiator or a hot water heater. You could use a dehydrator set to the right temperature. The only trick is to measure the temperature after 12 hours because tempeh starts to create heat as it ferments, so you may need to adjust.
How to Store Tempeh
Raw tempeh is creamy and delicious. The mold is reminiscent of Brie or Camembert. Raw tempeh needs to be eaten with 3-5 days, because the mold will continue to grow and spore, even in the refrigerator.
Generally, tempeh is steamed before eating. Steamed tempeh will last for a week in the fridge or it can also be frozen for up to three months.
How to steam tempeh
- Steam tempeh either in whole blocks or cut into smaller chunks.
- You can steam in a steaming basket or in a metal colander over a pot of boiling water.
- Steam tempeh for 20 minutes.
- After it’s been steamed, tempeh will last for several weeks in the fridge. Alternatively, freeze tempeh for long-term storage.
Sunflower Seed Tempeh
Sunflower seed tempeh is a delicious and nutritious soy-free tempeh. It is a great keto-friendly, vegetarian and vegan protein substitute. It is firm enough for a stir-fry, barbecue, or eat it fresh.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Healthy
- Diet: Vegan
- 2 cups of hulled sunflower seeds (or pumpkin seeds)
- 2 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp tempeh starter
- Bring the sunflower seeds to a boil and simmer until the seeds are soft (about 1 hour).
- Drain the sunflower seeds and allow them to cool until they are just above room temperature.
- Mix the sunflower seeds with the vinegar to lower the pH of the ferment. This prevents unwanted bacteria from contaminating the tempeh.
- Sprinkle on the tempeh starter and mix well.
- Spread the sunflower seeds out in the fermentation container. (See the section above for more details).
- Incubate at approximately 88 F (31 C).
- Check the seeds after 12 hours. At this point, the mold will have started to grow and the tempeh will start to generate 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 ready when the mold has thickened the sunflower seeds into a single dense mass. There might be some grey or black mold spores, but you want to stop incubation before there are too many mold spores.
- See the section above for details on steaming and storing tempeh.
- Black and gray spots may appear on the tempeh. These are mold spores, and they are completely edible. The tempeh should smell nutty and mushroomy, and it might have a hint of ammonia. I have never had a tempeh failure, however, if your tempeh smells bad, is mushy, or slimy then throw it out.
- See the sections above for more information on the type of container you should use for tempeh, and how to maintain the right temperature.
- Feel free to make tempeh out of pumpkin seeds using the same instructions. If you want to try sesame seeds, then only add a small amount to your batch of sunflower seed tempeh.
Keywords: pumpkin seed, sesame seed, vegetarian, gluten free, soy free, keto, paleo, whole 30, nut free, egg free, dairy free, protein, Indonesian,