DIY tofu press

DIY tofu press

veganmofo2

How to create a simple DIY tofu press

I really like tofu and eat it at least once a week. It’s a perfect post run food as it is a good source of protein and high in calcium but I know it is a food that a lot of people can’t get along with. The main complaints seem to be that it is bland and watery. For me the blandness is what makes it so versatile, you can load it with so many flavours from hot and spicey to herby and fresh, and the blandness means it can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes.

But in order to make it less watery, and more able to absorb flavours, you do need to handle it in a certain way. Using firm tofu straight from the pack can add a lot of water to your dish. So what to do? Well you need to press and squeeze all that water out!

For ages I’ve been using the weighted method, that is I wrap the block of tofu in kitchen towel to absorb the water then place it between two plates with weights on the top plate. It served me well, a lot of water is squeezed out of the tofu but you are left with the tofu standing in soaked kitchen towel so not all of the water removed.

It wasn’t until my boyfriend commented on the unsteadiness of this method and that the water isn’t able to drain away that we started to look at an alternative. We discovered that there are commercial tofu presses on the market, but they aren’t readily available in the UK. So we decided to make our own.

You don’t need any DIY skills for our tofu press, just four readily available items. Two small chopping boards and two clamps.

bamboo chopping board and ratchet clamps
bamboo chopping board and ratchet clamps

One word of warning, you will need to buy ratchet clamps rather than spring loaded clamps. Our first experiment with spring loaded clamps failed as we realised we would get squashed tofu instead of squeezed. Spring loaded clamps are rather heavy duty!

It also took us a while to find the chopping boards. We bought our bamboo ‘fruit boards’ from a Chinese supermarket as we couldn’t find a matching pair of the same width in the kitchen shops.

Once you have your equipment the process is really easy. Place the tofu block in between the two boards, then place the clamps on either side of the board and close them. Then stand the boards up so the water can drain from the tofu block.

Photo of the tofu press being used
Tofu press in action

The press is pretty quick to work its magic. Within 30 minutes most of the excess water will have been removed. I tend to leave it for 1-2 hours just because that’s the time it takes for me to start thinking about making dinner to making it!

A block of tofu before being pressed
Before pressing
A block of tofu after being pressed
After pressing

As you can see the tofu compresses to at least half its size through loss of water. This means the tofu is firmer, has more substance and any flavours you add aren’t diluted.

So once you have pressed your tofu what do you do with it?

Well you can marinate it, chop it, fry it, batter it, bake it, crumble it and create a host of tasty dishes.

One of the ways I like to eat it after a long run on a Sunday is to make tofu scramble and have it with the traditional English fry up namely fried mushrooms, facon (that’s faux bacon to you!) and tomatoes all on top of crumpets or toast. Tasty and very, very filling.

And my favourite tofu scramble recipe is from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch, a great book which also has a delicious recipe for beer battered tofu. The scramble recipe is also available on her website http://www.theppk.com/2009/10/tof-u-and-tof-me-scrambled-tofu-revisited/ so you can try before you buy, although I heartily recommend buying the book!

So how do you like your tofu? And do you have another method for pressing your tofu?

8 Responses to DIY tofu press

  1. Great post! Exactly what I need – my kitchen always looks like the board game Kerplunk when I’m draining tofu under a pile of cookery books!

  2. Brilliant! Which brand of tofu do you use? I normally use Cauldron as it’s readily available but a friend remarked to me the other day that it’s awfully crumbly and now I can’t stop noticing that!

  3. I use Cauldron mainly as it’s the most readily available tofu. I love Viana tofu, especially the smoked one but that doesn’t need pressing, it’s so firm!

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