If you want to maximize the flavor and texture of tofu, you must learn how to dehydrate it properly! How should tofu be dehydrated? Tofu can be dehydrated in a variety of ways. The best method is to use a tofu press, which involves placing a weighted object over the tofu to drain out all of the excess water. Other methods include passive dehydration, free-weight method, microwave method, boiling method, and others. Learn how to properly dehydrate tofu, some best practices, and how to make the most of dehydrated tofu in the sections below!
All About Tofu
Tofu is essentially just a tasteless mass of protein and water, but we still adore it because it’s one of the culinary world’s most adaptable ingredients! Tofu not only readily absorbs the flavor of any dish to which it is added, but it also offers a significant amount of protein without adding any extra calories. We must first look at how tofu is made in order to understand why it needs to be drained and why it is kept in water.
Essentially, mature soybeans are blended to create tofu. The beans are first given a day or more of soaking time to hydrate them. Depending on the number of beans, they are then drained, combined with fresh water, and blended in batches. The combined mixture is then passed through a fine mesh filter to separate the liquid, which contains the nutrients, from the pulp (mostly protein).
The pulp is pressed to remove every last drop of moisture, and the remaining “cake” is then offered for sale as animal feed. The soybean liquid continues with the subsequent process, where it becomes tofu. Before adding additional ingredients like salt or flavorings, as is the case with flavored tofu, the liquid is first put through another mesh filter to further clarify it.
Magnesium chloride, a byproduct of sea salt, is used to directly coagulate the mixture in order to make plain tofu. After the tofu has fully curdled, the curds are drained of extra water and then compressed once more to give the tofu its recognizable block shape. The cubed tofu is then packaged and sold in unique containers designed to increase the shelf life of the good.
Characteristics Of Tofu
You may be wondering why we store tofu in water-filled containers if the entire process of preparing it revolves around dehydrating or compressing it to release excess moisture. Why not simply keep it dehydrated for convenience?
The answer can be found in the characteristics of tofu. To prevent it from becoming too dry, manufacturers package tofu with a bit of water. While dehydrating tofu improves its texture and flavor-absorbing abilities, it has no effect on its shelf life!
Tofu can become irreversibly dry without water, just as freezer burn cannot be reversed! This alteration means that the tofu will no longer taste as fresh and will most likely lose its soft and spongy qualities. Let’s look at the characteristics of dry and hydrated tofu to see how they differ.
Fresh Tofu: Flavor
Fresh tofu that has just been removed from its packaging will be largely bland, particularly if you purchased the plain variety. Many producers also offer garnished or flavored silken tofu; this variety typically has complex flavors and is frequently sold without the need for dehydration.
Dehydrated Tofu: Flavor
Dehydrated tofu can be flavored in a variety of ways and is arguably tastier than fresh tofu because the flavors are much more concentrated due to the lack of water. Plain and dried tofu has a bland flavor with a subtle nuttiness from the soybeans on its own, but if you dehydrate marinated tofu, the flavors are greatly enhanced!
Fresh Tofu: Texture
Fresh tofu has a sponge-like texture. You can anticipate that it will also be very tender because it has already hydrated from the moisture. It can also provide a very pleasant mouthfeel and cuts easily. Flavored fresh tofu is typically added uncooked to recipes because of its delicate texture, which can cause it to deform, particularly in the case of silken tofu, which is much creamier and more delicate. In order for the flavored tofu to quickly absorb the flavors of the other ingredients without changing its texture, it is frequently added at the end of many recipes.
Dehydrated Tofu: Texture
The texture of dehydrated tofu is firm but tender. Tofu is naturally dense, so dehydrating it gives it a rubbery and resistant texture. The benefit of dehydrated tofu is that it becomes highly porous and absorbs more moisture as soon as it is added to any recipe. Because of its firm texture, dehydrated tofu can also be used in stir-fry or deep-fry recipes.
Fresh Tofu: Uses
There are numerous uses for raw, fresh tofu. It can be used as a base for ice cream, fillings, smoothies, and many other things. With no added oil or other calorie-dense ingredients, fresh tofu is thought to be a healthy way to eat tofu. It can also be enjoyed on its own. Even freshly cut tofu can be added as a garnish to dishes like salads and soups. Fresh tofu is best used in dishes that can benefit from its mild flavor and soft texture.
Dehydrated Tofu: Uses
Tofu that has been dehydrated is just as versatile as fresh tofu. It can be used in a variety of ways, but it is most commonly enjoyed in stir-fry or other oil-based recipes. Dehydrated tofu can also be used in soups and other gravy-based recipes, allowing the tofu to absorb all of the flavors! It can also be added to pasta or rice dishes, or eaten on its own with a little seasoning. Use dehydrated tofu in recipes that call for a chewy texture, as well as flavorful bits and pieces of tofu!
Dehydrating Tofu – A Complete Guide
It’s time to learn how to dehydrate tofu on your own now that we understand how it’s made and all of its distinctive qualities. Here are a few of the most widely used home tofu dehydration techniques.
If you want a safe, mess-free, and simple way to dehydrate tofu, we highly recommend a tofu press. A tofu press is intended to drain fresh and raw tofu without destroying its delicate texture. The majority of these presses include a weight or a pressing mechanism that slowly drains water from the tofu. Simply place the tofu block inside the container and then place the included weight over the center of the tofu to use a weighted tofu press. Allow the tofu to drain for 15-20 minutes before serving.
It is even simpler to use a pressing mechanism. All you have to do is place the block inside the presser and secure it with the clamps on both sides. This type of presser is great because it allows you to store the tofu in the fridge while it drains; they are also much smaller and easier to use. Some tofu presses even have a separate drip compartment that collects the drained water while keeping the tofu suspended so that it does not reabsorb any liquid.
The free-weight technique uses virtually any weighted object to compress the tofu in a container instead of a special tofu press as described in the preceding weighted-press technique. The tofu container’s flat shape makes for the best presser for this technique. You can recycle and reuse! Put the tofu in a different container for storage. Place the tofu container over the tofu block after cleaning the bottom to get rid of any dirt or bacteria.
Any weighted object should then be balanced over the container to apply pressure to the tofu. You should employ a sizable can (tomato cans work best). Simply stack the can on top of another one to add weight for more pressure. Remove the extra water from the container after waiting for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the compressed tofu from the container after waiting another 5 to 10 minutes, then use it as needed.
The benefit of this method is that you can easily place any kind of weight over the tofu to dehydrate it; however, the drawback is that the stacked weights prevent the tofu from being stored in the refrigerator. Because of this, we advise saving this technique for times when you need to use a block of tofu right away in a recipe.
Passive Dehydration Method
The passive dehydration method is ideal for those looking for the quickest and most convenient way to dehydrate tofu. This method takes advantage of physical laws! Simply cut a cold block of tofu into small cubes and place them on a cutting board or container. As the tofu warms up to room temperature, it begins to release moisture. Wait for about 20-25 minutes, or until the tofu has dehydrated sufficiently.
Please keep in mind that while this method is usually the simplest, it is not always the most effective. It will dehydrate the tofu slightly, but if you are used to fully dehydrated tofu, you should try the other methods first.
With the help of escaping steam and remaining heat, this technique works great for draining tofu. Simply cut the block of tofu into manageable pieces and add it to the boiling water in a pan. The tofu pieces should be boiled for three to four minutes before being drained in a sieve. Place the drained tofu in a container that has been lined with two sheets of paper towels. Let the tofu cool before covering it with the paper towel from the top. If you see a lot of moisture in the towels, you could even do this step twice.
This method is the quickest way to remove excess moisture from tofu, but it does necessitate some caution! Microwaves heat water molecules, which effectively heat food from the inside out. Most of the water from the food escapes as steam during this process and can be drawn out using capillary forces. Begin by removing a block of tofu from its packaging and discarding the water. Place the pieces in a paper towel-lined microwave-safe container.
As with the boiling method, wrap the paper towel around the top of the container. Place the container in the microwave and heat for about 2-3 minutes on medium or high. Remember to be cautious when working with hot tofu! Remove the wet towels and replace them with fresh, dry paper towels. Wait until the tofu has reached room temperature before using!
Please keep in mind that, while this method is usually very convenient, it has the potential to deform some soft tofu varieties. This method is best suited for recipes that don’t call for firm or well-shaped tofu.
The stove method is a fantastic way to simultaneously cook and dehydrate the tofu! Use this technique only if you want to cook the tofu right away without having to wait for it to drain. The tofu should first be cut into equal pieces before a nonstick pan is heated to medium heat. Because tofu tends to be quite sticky, be sure to use a non-stick pan! If you don’t want to use oil, just put the tofu in the hot pan without adding any. Allow the tofu to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, undisturbed.
After that, turn it over and lower the heat to medium. Add your preferred sauce or any other flavoring condiment after cooking for a further 2-3 minutes. The tofu will have sufficiently dried out by now. This indicates that any moisture (or flavor) you add to it will be easily absorbed. We advise using a sauce that is just a little runny. For a few minutes or until the sauce has been absorbed, cook the tofu in the sauce. Enjoy the seasoned tofu after serving it on a plate.
When you want to cook the tofu the next day — or when you’re not in a hurry — use the fridge method. Simply cut the block of tofu into equal pieces and place it in a container lined with dry paper towels to use this method. Refrigerate the container at 40°F in the back of the fridge. Allow the tofu to chill overnight before removing the towels and using it as needed! If your tofu is particularly hydrated or soft, you can also use double-lined paper towels.
Dehydrating tofu is easy to do in a variety of ways. It’s time to look at some related questions now that you are aware of how to prepare it for recipes.
How long does dry tofu last in the fridge?
Dry tofu will keep in the fridge for about 1-2 days. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 2-3 days, but it will lose texture the longer it sits there. You can also freeze tofu, but we recommend using it as soon as possible because it will change texture as it thaws.
Can tofu deform using the pressing method?
Using a special tofu presser won’t change the tofu’s inherent block shape. To compress the tofu equally on all sides when using the free-weight method, you must balance the weight in the middle. As the tofu dries, uneven pressing could cause permanent distortion.