Tofu is a high-protein and low-calorie staple of Asian cuisine. It is also a good alternative for meat. Tofu is a product made from coagulating soybean into curds.
The commercial manufacturing process of making tofu produces high moisture content in the solid tofu. This short read gives you instructions on how to dehydrate tofu.
While there are commercial tofu presses, you can dehydrate tofu at home, you just need a few materials, including:
- a cutting board
- plate or large bowl (you can also use a second cutting board)
- clean dishcloth or paper towels
- a large can of food or any heavy object to use as weight
Important: Take note that there is firm tofu and there are softer forms. The softer kind is not suited for pressing because they tend to fall apart even under moderate pressure. To remove moisture from the softer form of tofu, you can gently pat the block with paper towels or a clean dishcloth. Repeat the process until tofu is dry.
How to Dehydrate Tofu
Place tofu over a few layers of paper towels (or dishcloth)
- Fold the dishcloth or paper towels into half for extra absorbency.
- Position them on the cutting board before putting the block of tofu on top of the dishcloth or paper towels.
- If the dishcloth/paper towels become too wet, you can transfer the block of tofu to another set of fresh dishcloth/paper towels. Repeat the process until the block of tofu is completely dry.
Take note that you have to use about four to six layers of folded paper towels for the moisture to be completely drained.
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Put weight on the block of tofu
Another way to dehydrate tofu is to squeeze out the moisture by applying a steady weight over it.
- Put layers of paper towels on a cutting board before positioning the block of tofu over them. About three to four layers of paper towels would be fine.
- Put another layer of paper towels or a clean dishcloth on top of the tofu.
- Position the plate (or the second cutting board or bowl) over the tofu with paper towels on top. Use the even (flat) side of the plate so you don’t get dents on the tofu.
- Position the weight, it should be heavy enough to be able to press down evenly, but not too heavy for the tofu to crumble. A big canned food or two to three smaller cans would suffice.
- You may also use a heavy book, a cast iron pan, or a small dumbbell. Try to look around your kitchen for other items you can use, like a large tin can of flour or milk.
- Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
- If the paper towels become totally saturated, replace it with a fresh batch of folded paper towels.
- Let it stand for another 30 minutes.
Continue repeating the process until little to no moisture is evident on the paper towels.
Important: Tilt the cutting board (or plate, if you opted to use it instead of cutting board) every 20 to 30 minutes to get rid of the water that may have accumulated on the bottom plate or cutting board. Again, replace the paper towels when they get completely soaked with moisture.
If you are in a hurry or running out of time that you cannot afford this long process to dehydrate tofu, you may stop after the first 30 minutes. The tofu may not be quite crispy when you fry it, but the process can still remove most of the moisture, albeit not completely.
Alternative: Overnight freezing
You can immediately put a container of tofu directly into the freezer. You can leave it there for about 6 to 8 hours or overnight. You don’t need to open the pack or drain off the water to prevent the tofu from being “freezer-burned”.
It is important to mention that freezing a block of tofu before the pressing process would need a little advance planning. But the actual drying process will be shorter than following the traditional pressing process.
However, one factor to take into consideration is that freezing the tofu will cause changes in the texture. It will become more “bready” compared to the natural texture of the unfrozen tofu.
When you’re ready for the drying process, first you have to thaw the frozen tofu inside the refrigerator (taken down from the freezer) for at least 5 hours or overnight. You can also put the package of tofu under cool running water to help defrost the tofu faster.
- Open the package and drain off excess liquid. When the tofu appears to have been thawed, you can open the container and then carefully pour out the water that was collected at the bottom. You can gently pierce the block of tofu using a knife if you want to make sure if it has been thawed all the through its center.
- If it is still frozen, put it back into the refrigerator until the tofu is completely thawed. Be reminded that if there is still ice in the center of the block of tofu, it will not dry out completely.
- When completely thawed, take out the tofu from the container. Hold the block using your two hands and position over the sink. Gently squeeze the tofu with your palms to let the liquid drain. Try to gently force as much of the liquid as possible.
- If you’re having difficulty pressing the tofu with your bare hands without smashing it, just drain off the water.
- With the use of paper towels, pat the surface of the tofu to dry out completely.
The tofu is now ready for cooking or marinating. You can put the tofu in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag then put it in the refrigerator if you are not going to use it after drying. It can be stored for up to 3 days.
How to Store Dehydrated Tofu
Once dehydrated, you can cook the tofu right away. But you can also store them inside the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days more. No need to freeze, though. You can put uncooked dehydrated tofu in a resealable plastic bag. Once the tofu has been dehydrated, it is ready to cook or marinate.
Thank you for the image: NutritionStripped