Homemade Tofu Press

I have been getting into tofu recently. I know, I know, kind of hard to believe, but that’s the contrary sort of guy I am. Now while you don’t actually need a tofu press to make tofu, I enjoy things more if I have the right equipment. Here’s a little article I wrote on making a tofu press out of a keepsake box from a craft store.

finished press

How to make a tofu press on Instructables

17 comments to Homemade Tofu Press

  • WarPig

    Nice piece of woodworking. Clean joints and nice moulding on the base. Unfortunately, my opinion of tofu is that it is the bastard lovechild of Styrofoam and jello. I try not to eat it, even accidentally. Line that box with cheesecloth and it would make a nice cheese press, I bet.

    Or you could use it to torture mice. ;-)

    “Ah-HAAAAAhahahaha! Now I have you! I’ll add an ounce of weight at a time on the lid until you tell me where you hid my Camembert, you little thieves!”

  • War Pig

    Sorry, misspelled the username. New computer. Waiting moderation.

  • I’d like to make cheese but think that would be one too many hobbies for the space I have.

    I have found tofu functions well as a component in a larger range of flavours – a bit of fried tofu skin in hotpot, or a some tofu in black bean sauce with steamed fish, for example. It has taken me a few years to get to this point, though.

  • War Pig

    About the only tofu I eat is in Chinese takeout hot and sour soup. My vegetarian daughter uses it in everything. She got me to try some barbecue tofu which she said resembled pulled pork. I didn’t think so, but that’s just me. I can see where it would be valuable as a thickener in some recipes. Someone got me to try tofu meatloaf – once. Ugh. Can’t help it, I’m a carnivore by nature. Everything tastes better to me with some flesh. Turtle, alligator, iguana, snake, whatever. When I make hot and sour soup I use strips of white chicken meat instead of tofu. I dunno why tofu disagrees with me. I eat soybean meal okay.

  • I think the mistake I made was thinking of tofu as a meat substitute. It isn’t, and to pretend it is will end in tears. Rather it’s a textural/contrast thing – chilled tofu in a fiery Korean sauce, for example, where the blandness of the tofu is necessary to cool the dish down. (Of course, given your previous comments regarding peppers and tear gas chambers, you might disagree.)

  • David Brodbeck

    Yeah, the trick with tofu is to think of it as its own thing, not as a meat substitute. Also, it’s important to remember that it has little flavor of its own, but will soak up flavors of things it’s cooked with (if you press it first.)

    It also benefits from a good hot sear, or even pan frying, to give it a crisp surface. Otherwise it’s just kind of blobs of mush…which is okay in some things, but not ideal for most things.

  • Muzhik

    As for me, I was thinking how, if you CAREFULLY lined it with either Saran wrap or waxed paper, that would make a GREAT mold for soap.

    I love re-purposing items to use as soap molds. My two favorite molds are yogurt containers (for a particular local brand of yogurt) and a local brand’s individual serving ice cream containers. I like those because they have a nice oval shape and I can use them for either 4oz bars or 5oz bars, depending on the recipe.

  • I grew up vegetarian and my parents worked in a tofu factory. Always hated it, until one day I had it fried (rolled in batter of half flour half cornstarch) covered with a sweet peanut sauce. Now, I kinda’ like it. Although I can’t imagine it being a substitute for much of anything really.

    I’m excited about this idea of making the stuff. Not only because I can then say “I make the curd blocks, jes’ like me olde dad used to.”

  • Your parents worked in a tofu factory? No wonder you became an artist. I can see the arguments right now:

    “Tofu made this family! All your ancestors made tofu!”
    “There’s more to life than tofu, dad! There’s art, and music, and beauty!”

  • War Pig

    @Muzhik,

    I have a bunch of wooden things I use as lye and olive oil soap molds. Some are actually soap molds from my great-grandparents (I use them for actual lye soap as that is what they were used for). My olive oil soaps are flavored with lavender oil and lavender leaves and blossoms, or orange zest and orange essential oils. When the fit takes me I make a couple dozen and give them out as gifts. I can still remember granny shaving homemade lye soap cakes for laundry washing. She used grampy’s old block plane. And she had a gasoline powered (later an electric model), double tub, ringer washer. She’d put a cup of vinegar in the rinse tub to help cut the soap film left in the clothes. My olive oil soap molds have carvings in the bottom so I spray them with olive oil cooking spray as a release agent. Come to think of it, I haven’t made any soap in a year or so. May have to get on it this autumn.

    @Chris, Daniel, et al:

    I have never tried skillet or deep fried tofu. Interesting. I may try frying some in olive oil in the skillet, sliced thinly or peanut oil in the deep fryer, or having my vegetarian daughter do it. She tried to be strict vegan but that takes both money and great care to not screw with the bodily processes. Also makes eating out a b*tch. As a working woman, she went back to vegetarianism.

  • @Daniel, Ha! “no son of mine! He’s no son of mine!”

  • Never made soap. Is it something I should understand, like making your own meals?

  • Muzhik

    @Daniel, I think you should at least be familiar with the process. I know FAR too many people who proudly talk about the “soap I made” when all they did was melt some stuff they bought at the craft store and pour it into a mold.

    I got into it when I was unemployed because it was a creative hobby that was so inexpensive. The lye I bought at the hardware store for about $2.50, I cooked it in an old crock pot, used old food containers for molds, and the oils were things I had laying around. The most expensive part was the $12 I spent on a stick blender. That’s essential — you do NOT want to try making soap stirring it by hand.

    The other thing I had to spend money on was an accurate scale. It might not be rocket science but it is chemistry, and the more accurate your measurements the better your product will be. Just remember that when a recipe calls for “6oz water”, that’s 6 ounces of water BY WEIGHT. Also, remember to add the lye to the water, NEVER the water to the lye. The reaction is very exothermic, and you don’t want the lye solution bubbling out of your mixing bowl.

    So go ahead and do a search for “Lard soap” or “Crisco soap”. Better yet, do a search for “hot process soap”, which will show you how to make it in a crock pot. I know people who insist the 100% Lard soap is the best thing to use on rashes, bites, or poison ivy. I’d avoid using olive oil for your first project. You have to stir it forever to get it to set up, and I know people who almost gave up soapmaking as a hobby because they thought all soaps would be has hard to make as the olive oil soap.

    Great. Now I’M feeling the need to mix up a batch or two. [sigh]

  • smartypants

    All I can say is: AWESOME. please pass on the recipe for the tofu. :( )

  • smartypants

    I have been reading comments.

    As far as soap goes, I highly recommend using Dr. Bronner’s and ONLY Dr. Bronner’s. It is cruelty free, it has been around a long time, is not bad for the environment, is not bad for you, can be diluted, can be bought in bulk and you can fill your own plastic containers, and comes in several scents.

    No reason to perfect that… and DEFINITELY no reason to use lye or (puke) lard….. otherwise known as slaughterhouse sludge..

  • Thanks. I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy a digital kitchen scale. All I know about soap I learned from “Fight Club.”

  • Muzhik

    On the one hand, I can see myself falling (slithering, actually) into my bizarro-first-responder-humor mode. The problem is, I’ve seen soap made from human fat. In Denmark. In the Holocaust section of the WW2 museum.

    The soap had a dark yellowish color; and was rather coarse (although I imagine the Nazis weren’t concentrating on making a good product to sell in high-end stores). It was the memory of that display that added a little something to the film.

    So do us all a favor: for your first project, stick with Crisco.