Tempeh is one of the most popular foods in Indonesia, where it has been used for more than 2000 years. Today, it is available worldwide, thanks to the Dutch who first introduced it to the Western world.
Being extremely rich in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, tempeh is considered to me “vegetarian meat” and it is an important part of vegetarian and vegan diets.
Tempeh is made from soybeans, which are cooked, inoculated with culturing agents and incubated overnight, until they form a solid cake.
Health benefits of tempeh
One of the most important features of tempeh is the fact it is an excellent source of protein. The kind of protein found in tempeh has the ability to lower the cholesterol levels, unlike animal protein which elevates them.
Tempeh also raises the levels of HDL, which is called “good” cholesterol. When passing through the system HDL pick ups cholesterols in the blood vessels and carries them to the liver, which disposes of them. In addition, tempeh has been proven to reduce the levels of LDL, the “bad” cholesterol.
Tempeh is rich in magnesium, which is important for cardiovascular health and it participates in the reactions of the enzymes.
Like other soy products, tempeh is a good source of dietary fiber, which bind fats and cholesterol and thus reduce their levels. Fiber is known to reduce the risk of colon cancer, because it binds the agents that may cause it. It also reduces the risk of breast cancer.
Tempeh can be very useful for women who enter the menopause. It contains isoflavones, which relieves the symptoms caused by the decline in the natural estrogen. It also prevents osteoporosis or bone loss that is one of the consequences of the menopause.
Trace minerals like copper and manganese can be found in tempeh as well. They are important for many body functions.
Tempeh is a good source of riboflavin, a nutrient important for energy transfer, and of genistein, which reduces the risk of prostate cancer.
People who suffer from diabetes should add tempeh to their diet because it reduces cholesterol, sugar levels and triglycerides.
How to make tempeh
Tempeh can be made at home using soybeans, some vinegar and tempeh starters which contain the cultures necessary for its fermentation. Soybeans are soaked overnight and cooked for 15-20 minutes. After cooking they should be dried out completely by wrapping them in a clean towel. After this, the beans are mixed with a teaspoonful of tempeh starter and placed in a perforated plastic bag. The bag is then pressed until it is two inches thick and placed in an incubator at 86F. Alternatively the bag can be kept in a warm place until it is completely filled with mycelia and the mass is solid when picked up. When it is ready, tempeh can be stored in the refrigerator for about ten days.