I'm a sucker for tempeh, and because it's not an easy thing to make from scratch, I'm really jazzed at the prospect of a simple and reliable home tempeh maker.
Tempeh, a cultured soy product originally from Indonesia, is a versatile high-protein food for vegetarians and omnivores alike. But one which isn't nearly as well-known as that other soy food that carnivores love to hate, tofu.
Tempeh has a couple of advantages over tofu, as far as I'm concerned, in that it's got a great texture and denseness to it, while also offering an excellent nutritional profile thanks to its fermented nature, which is said to increase the digestibility of soy while also boosting the bioavailabilty of nutrients. Because it is made with the whole soybean, tempeh has a much higher fiber content than tofu and may be a better dietary choice than other soy products which are highly processed.
Making tempeh is a bit like making yogurt or growing mushrooms, in that it's not simply a mechanical process, but instead requires inoculation with a fungus, usually Rhizpopus Oligosporus, and then letting the culture fully colonize the beans. This process converts the soybeans into a solid 'cake' of tempeh, which can then be sliced, crumbled, or cubed to fry or add to a recipe for a denser and firmer mouthfeel. It's not like making tempeh at home is impossible, because it isn't, but just as yogurt makers and bread makers made the DIY food movement more convenient for those foods, a new product aims to make the tempeh process easier and more reliable.
The forthcoming TempehSure system is said to be "tailored to remove the mystery and guesswork from making tempeh," both for restaurants and for homes, by enabling an optimal climate and pasteurization process for better results, and by providing a reliable starter culture for "the most flavorful, perfect-batch tempeh available."
"The dual-stage oven is precisely engineered to automate and regulate atmospherically ideal fermentation and pasteurization processes, which eliminates the unsightly spots that are often found in store-bought tempeh. It can be used individually or stacked 6 units high for restaurant and food service. The oven uses a standard baking tray, which produces three pounds of tempeh that can be easily cut into patties, strips or custom shapes for a variety of recipes." - The DuPuis Group
The TempehSure oven, which looks kind of like a countertop microwave, is one part of the system; the other device, a "Bean Spa," is designed to make the process of prepping the legumes for tempeh-making easier and more reliable. The company's pre-measured starter cups will provide an optimal culture for inoculating the beans. Another selling point of the TempehSure system is the claim that instead of just making soy tempeh, the device can also be used to make it from other legumes, such as chickpeas or lentils, which may help make this fermented food more available to those with soy allergies or concerns about high soy intake.
"TempehSure™ allows foodies, artisans and chefs to not only make protein-rich tempeh in their own kitchens with previously unavailable ease, but also adds variety to their tempeh experience. With TempehSure, tempeh can now be made consistently with not just soybeans but a variety of legumes including chickpeas and lentils."
While there has been no notice about the cost of either the home system (makes 1.5 lb of tempeh per batch) or the Pro system (3 lb per batch), and the launch date isn't public yet ("will be available later this year"), there is a signup form on the bottom of the home page for inquiries about the TempehSure.