How to care for your tofu

Just like any food, tofu has a shelf life – or, more accurately, refrigerator life – that needs to be observed and respected. While your tofu may look like a robust block of cheese, it is far more delicate than what meets the eye.

Creating tofu is a precarious balancing act of just a few key ingredients. Get it wrong or compromise on the quality of the ingredients, and your tofu will be slimy, sour, bitter and generally unpleasant. This is the kind of tofu that gives tofu a bad name.

The more superior tofu (like ours!) is created firstly with the production of a premium soymilk through a hot extraction process and then the careful addition of natural firming agents. Slight variations result in very different types of tofu, such as our SOFT, FIRM, PRESSED, SILKEN and SMOKED. It is all about the balancing act.

After selecting your tofu from the chilled section of your food retailer, make sure you’re not dropping in to see friends or visiting the office for a few hours – your tofu does not take kindly to long periods of time at room temperature. Put it in your fridge as soon as possible and make sure it is set between 2 to 4 degrees C.

At this point, your tofu will be factory sealed and pasteurised with an expiry date clearly marked on the label. Take note of that date because tofu is a product that will cultivate bacterial growth over a period of time and could make you ill or, at the very least, turn you from ever eating tofu again. That’s also when bad tofu handling spoils tofu’s reputation.

Once you open your tofu for a delicious scrambled tofu, miso soup or ginger dessert, you may not need to use the entire block. Here are some steps for keeping your leftovers fresh:

1.     Place your leftover tofu in a glass or non-porous container with lid or use cling wrap/film. We recommend non-porous containers due to tofu’s absorbent qualities and the possibility of inferior plastics leaching into the tofu.

2.     Make sure all original water from the tofu packaging has been drained. Add fresh, cold water to the container until it just covers the top of your tofu.

3.     Place your leftover tofu with its lid/cling wrap into the fridge. Remember one of the attributes of your tofu is it works like an absorbent sponge so, if you leave the lid off, it will attract all the odours of your refrigerator. You don’t want that.

4.     Change the water daily to ensure tip-top tofu freshness.

Popular opinion says that opened tofu can be used for up to seven days but, in the interests of food integrity, we’re in the process of changing our packaging to advise three days after opening instead. We just think it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Freezing tofu

Yes, your tofu can be frozen for up to three months but you will lose its original texture and a number of the qualities (absorbency, etc.) that make tofu a desirable ingredient. However, some chefs do intentionally freeze their tofu for the express purpose of the unique characteristics it creates.

If you choose to freeze your tofu for culinary and/or storage reasons, cut it into chunks and freeze on a parchment-lined tray until solid then transfer to an airtight freezer container. When the time comes to defrost your tofu, do so in the refrigerator – not on the kitchen bench – and squeeze out any excess liquid before cooking.

Handle your tofu with care and your tofu will thank you for it.