What is Tofu Made of?
Love it or hate it, tofu is a very popular food in many places around the world. Some people enjoy it for its texture, others the taste, and still others for the health benefits. Whether you have tried tofu in the past, or you’re just thinking about adding it to your diet for the first time, it is a good idea to learn a little more about it before moving forward.
What is Tofu Actually Made of?
Tofu is a very simple food. The ingredients are soybeans, water, and some coagulant. The coagulant helps to curdle the other two ingredients so that it stays together better. The typical coagulant used is either soy whey, calcium sulfate, magnesium chloride, or lemon juice, though there are others that are occasionally used.
For basic tofu, that is the full ingredient list. Pretty basic, right? While it is technically a processed food, it isn’t loaded down with preservatives, artificial flavorings, or anything like that. Of course, some manufacturers will add different ingredients to the tofu, so make sure to check your labels before making a purchase.
Is Tofu Gluten Free?
This is one of the most popular questions, and the simple answer is yes, tofu is gluten-free. Some companies do use a coagulant that is made with gluten, so make sure to check the labels. This is not a very common way of doing things, but it is important to be aware of in case you are following a gluten-free lifestyle.
How is Tofu Made?
Now that you know what tofu is made of let’s take a look at how it is made. Just like the ingredient list, the way it is made is quite simple too. First, soybeans are soaked in water so that they are properly hydrated. Once ready, they are crushed while being heated to separate out the solids from the ‘milk.’ The milk is what is needed for the tofu.
The milk is then heated up again while the coagulant ingredient is stirred in. The liquid is stirred until it begins to thicken up to the desired level. Once ready, the excess water is pressed out of the remaining curds, which allows them to bind. The curds can be pressed into any shape needed depending on how it will be used.
Types of Tofu
When buying tofu, you will notice that there are several varieties of this soybean-based food. The types are based on just how firm you want it. The firmness needed will depend on your personal preferences as well as what it is being used for. The typical options are:
- Firm – Firm tofu is the densest and will stay together better than the other options. It is good for cooking into a dish that will feature the tofu prominently. It can also be fried without falling apart.
- Regular – Regular tofu is slightly looser than the firm option, but will still generally stay together quite well. It is a balanced option that can be used for many dishes.
- Soft – Soft tofu will likely start to fall apart if you are moving it around a frying pan, and depending on how it is cooked, might be somewhat difficult to secure with a fork. This is a popular option for crumbling on salad, cooking into soup, or making a sauce.
- Silken – This is the softest option around and is usually chosen for sauces, soups, or other similar dishes.
Nutritional Facts of Tofu
Now that you know what is in tofu and how it is made let’s take a look at the nutritional information. The nutritional facts will depend somewhat on the firmness of the tofu. Firm tofu will have slightly higher levels of all nutrients, and silken will be slightly lower.
- Calories – 61-87 kcal
- Carbs – 1.6-2.4g
- Fiber – .1-.9g
- Protein – 6.4-9g
- Fat – 2.7 – 4.6g
As you can see, tofu is an excellent source of healthy protein while still keeping the calories relatively low. This is one of the many reasons that so many vegans and vegetarians or simply people who are looking to lose weight choose to add tofu to their meal plan.
Adding Tofu to Your Diet
Now that you know what tofu is made of, how it is made, and a little bit about its nutritional information, you will need to decide whether or not it is a good option for you. Many people love the fact that tofu absorbs the flavors of other foods, which makes it a very flexible option when cooking. It is also relatively easy to find good recipes, so find one that sounds good and give it a try.