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How Tempeh is Made

Ever wonder how tempeh is made? Before I started working for Lightlife, I had no clue what tempeh was even made from, let alone how it was made. However, since getting to know some of the people who make it here at Lightlife, I’ve discovered that tempeh is actually an incredible food.

Tempeh has been an Indonesian staple for more than 2,000 years, if you can believe it. Who would have known that something a lot of Americans view as an odd food has really been around much longer than French fries; something which seems to be a staple for many.

Soybeans were first cultivated in China as early as the 11th century B.C., and made their way throughout Asia over the next few centuries. The Dutch, who colonized Indonesia, brought tempeh to Europe in the 19th century, and it then traveled to the United States in the 1960s. Lightlife, formerly known as Tempehworks, was one of the first companies to start producing tempeh in the U.S., back in 1979. Yeah, Lightlife!

Tempeh starts as whole soybeans, which are de-hulled, ground up, and then soaked overnight. Before being soaked, this is what the soybeans look like:

After being soaked, the beans are then boiled, cooled down, and strained to remove the water. The beans then get mixed with starter spores to begin the fermentation process.

Next, the beans get put into perforated plastic bags and are set to sit in our 90 degree incubation room for 18 hours.

From there, they get packaged individually and are sent off to be pasteurized. Pasteurization is a common food safety process in which the whole package gets heated to a certain temperature for one hour in order to ensure everything is safe to eat.

And voila… the tempeh that you know and love is ready to be shipped out.

What is your favorite recipe using tempeh? Post it to our Facebook page and I’ll send you a free coupon!

Lightlife Team Member

About Blogitarian

Lightlife's resident blogger and veggie enthusiast, Rachael, gives you an insight into the vegetarian world as well as a peek at what’s new in Turners Falls.


6 thoughts on “How Tempeh is Made

  1. Just stumbled upon this blog thru the WordPress vegetarian tag. As a Lightlife fan and former Amherst resident, I’m excited to see some Western Mass./vegetarian discussion going on. And I’m going over to Facebook to to tell my fave use for tempeh for a coupon! I’ll be back, glad I found this site.

    Posted by valeriepassonno | May 24, 2011, 5:02 pm
  2. Interesting to read and learn about. I haven’t used tempeh before – we tend to eat tofu.

    Posted by Colline | May 24, 2011, 5:07 pm
  3. ok everything is jus great,about tempeh but i dont live in the USA and have not much opportunity to keep going back to the store and replenishing my tempeh supplies by opening the fridge door and paying at the checkout!What i would like to know is,where do i buy tempeh starter?

    Posted by janet lohr | December 10, 2011, 12:49 am
    • Thanks for your comment, Janet. I’ve never made my own tempeh actually, so I’m not sure what to suggest. If you google ‘tempeh starter’ it seems there are a lot out there – I wouldn’t want to make a recommendation though because I’ve never tried them myself. Good luck in finding something that works for you!

      Posted by Blogitarian | December 12, 2011, 3:15 pm

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