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Is a tofu press really necessary?

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Is a tofu press really necessary?

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This one is for all the tofu lovers, vegan newbies, kitchen gadget hoarders, and keen cooks out there.

You’ve probably all heard about a tofu press, you may have even seen it and thought, thats cool, but is it really that important? Well, we’re here to give you all the information you need to make, or to not make, an informed purchase.

But first of all, let’s take a deeper dive into the reason a tofu press even exists in the first place. That is, for the god of all vegan ingredients, tofu.

What is tofu?

Tofu is made from coagulated soy milk which has been pressed into handy blocks of varying softness ready to cook with and eat. 

It originates from China and can now be found throughout Asia in varying forms.

Fortunately, it made its way over to us in the West. You can find it in most supermarkets, firm tofu in the fridge section and silken tofu in the dried.

tofu after using a tofu press

The consistency of tofu

Tofu, whether it is a soft silken or a firmer type, is normally very wet.

Silken tofus will need a quick drain and then you can cook with it, but you will find it breaks apart very easily. It is by nature a very soft and smooth tofu.

Firmer tofus will also need a drain, but will hold together in a more solid block. They are also quite soft to touch, but are more sponge-like. Despite keeping their shape more than silken, they can still be quite wet inside (which is where pressing comes in…). 

Cooking with tofu

Cooking silken tofu is quite simple, after draining the excess liquid, you can cook straight up. Or you can even blend it for vegan quiches and cheesecakes.

Firm tofu, however, you may find needs more than a simple drain. Firm tofu lends itself to more frying, especially after being cubed or sliced. In general, when frying food, you want to make sure there is as little liquid on it as possible to make sure it goes crispy. Hence you will want to dry the tofu.

Buy a TofuBud Tofu Press

Do you need to press tofu?

This depends on what your desired results are. If you are making a quick lunch and want your tofu only slightly crisp after frying, then a simple dab of the edges with a linen towel should suffice.

If you are after ultimate tofu crispiness then you will want to press it.

Firm tofu is like a sponge, it keeps in all this moisture. If this moisture seeps out throughout frying, you can say goodbye to ultimate crispiness.

Marinating pressed tofu

Once you remove all the liquid from within the tofu, you can reintroduce new liquid to it. Without the initial liquid removal, this process will be a lot more difficult to do. Just imagine a massively watered down version of your marinade, yuk.

So, if you want to marinate your tofu you’ll want to press out all the excess liquid from within it first.

Just beware, marinated tofu won’t crisp up as well due to the liquid, so make sure to give it a pat down with a linen towel before cooking.

Cooking with pressed tofu

Once you have pressed your tofu you’ll end up with a drier product, dare I say it, almost chicken like. This makes cooking with it much easier. You can fry it, bake it, deep fat fry it, or even air fry it. You’ll get a lovely crisp outer and a soft squishy inner, unless you overcook it of course…

diy tofu press versus tofu bud tofu press

How do you press tofu?

Back when I first went vegan I would lay out a linen towel on the work surface, place the tofu inside it, wrap it up, and then balance a heavy saucepan on top of it. If I was feeling brave, I would stick some other heavy items inside the saucepan, at the risk of it all falling over as soon as I left the room.

Once I was happy it was stable I would leave it there for a few hours.

After a few hours I would unwrap the now drenched towel from the tofu and find that the edges of the tofu had dried out slightly, making it easier to then cook. There would however still be some remains of the liquid left within the middle of the tofu.

Then I discovered a tofu press.

What is a tofu press?

A tofu press is a nifty piece of equipment that takes the DIY out of pressing tofu. 

They are normally made from plastic (boo), but are made to last. They come with an inner tray and underneath it, a drip tray.

You can press your block of tofu without any risk of a kitchen disaster. I have bent a few pan edges in the past.

Unfortunately, our biggest gripe with a tofu press, there really isn’t much else you can do with it, other than press tofu. But for all the tofu connoisseurs out there, with it being such a staple ingredient in your day to day life, it will get used a lot.

tofubud tofu press results

Which brand of tofu press is best?

We’ve tried a few tofu presses and our favourite has been the TofuBud. But, why? We find it the easiest to use, the drip tray works well, and we love that you can see inside to check up on how the tofu is doing.

How do you use TofuBud?

Using TofuBud is really simple, no need to seek out all the heaviest cooking implements in your kitchen. Whack your TofuBud out of the cupboard and place your tofu inside.

Need more info than this, well read on.

What kinds of tofu can you press?

You can press all firmer types of tofu, normally those that are sold refrigerated. You’ll find that the softer silken tofus are impossible to press as they break apart very easily.

Most firm tofu is actually already pre-pressed, but still kept in liquid, so pressing it again before cooking is necessary.

Our favourite tofu

How do you press the tofu?

You place the tofu inside the inner tray and place a lid (the press) on top. Press down the knob until the tofu is pressed down inside. The lid will then get to work applying pressure onto your tofu, squishing out all the liquid into the drip tray below.

You’ll go from having a ‘firm’ but soft and squidgy block of tofu to a much firmer and solid block which is ready to cook.

How long do you press the tofu for?

Tofu presses normally take a fraction of the time to press tofu, in comparison to any of our dodgy DIY attempts. With TofuBud it takes about 15-20 minutes.

How do you strain the water from the tofu?

Simply tilt the tofu press over the sink so all the liquid drops out of the drip tray. Easy.

Buy a TofuBud Tofu Press

Lucy Johnson

Lucy Johnson

One half of the Vegan Sisters, she is the Founder of SHiDO, a vegan digital marketing agency. She is an avid cook, sharing her recipes on Edible Ethics vegan food blog.

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