How Tofu is Made

February 25, 2016

CHICAGO — As global needs for sustainable protein sources rise, more people are turning to tofu. Tofu is a nutritious, protein-rich bean curd made by changing soy milk into a solid. In the February issue of Food Technology Magazine, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Tara McHugh, PhD, describes the process of making tofu.

Tofu production begins with soaking and grinding soybeans and using soft, rotating rubber rollers to remove the hulls before cooking the beans. Filtration is then used to separate the soy milk and the soy pulp known as okara. This is followed by separating the protein and oil. A variety of factors can affect the separation process including what kind of coagulant, which is an ingredient that helps a liquid to become a solid, is used and the addition of natural oils.

The two most commonly used coagulants are calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride. Calcium sulfate is the most widely used and is chosen because it does not mask the taste of the soybeans; rather, it helps preserve and highlight the flavors. Magnesium chloride and calcium chloride are more soluble and produce smoother-textured tofu.

Pasteurization is frequently used to extend the shelf life of tofu, which has helped bring about a whole new market of tofu and soy-based products. This includes tofu pasta, tofu hot dogs and tofu burgers and even tofu ice cream. Sprouted tofu, which is tofu made from soybeans that have germinated, is also gaining popularity, and the tofu market is expected to see tremendous growth in the years ahead.

Read the article in Food Technology here.

About IFT
Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 17,000 members from more than 95 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.