Navy Bean Tempeh

Our taste buds, biceps, and planet need this stuff.  Simply put, its cooked beans slowly feasted upon by a kind of mold, from starter culture available online.  It’s definitely doable though there’s a certain art to master and level of TLC required to get a dank bean cake wafting out the incubator to future you.

This site has all the info you need to get started:

I’ll post my forays with other types of beans, some of which have failed and even almost poisoned me.

This one, as it reached the sporulation stage in which a black fuzz envelops the oxygen exposed outer layer, had a kind of blue-cheese-esque flavor.  Accordingly, I’ve blended some of the most sporulated parts into a yeasty, peppery mix that will hopefully blow blue cheese out of the pantry.  Also, I’ll write another post on my experiment in propagating starter culture from this batch.


  1. Soak 2 cups navy beans overnight, covered
  2. Break apart using heavy object, rubbing using thumb across fingers to remove hulls
    1. Use strainer to scoop hulls after refilling bowl/pot of beans with water
  3. Once at least 2/3 of the beans are dehulled, simmer for about one hour until beans are almost completely soft and cooked
  4. Drain beans, pour into bowl or in pot stir in 1-2 tbsp vinegar
  5. Dump onto flat surface such as baking tray to dry and cool (wet beans take longer to incubate)
  6. Once cool enough to handle (though still warm) pour into bowl, mash/blend 1/8th of beans for easy mycelial munching and more of a solid cake
  7. Stir in starter culture very well
  8. Add to bag/container/banana leaf (my fave) with 1-inch spaced holes for aeration
  9. Set in warm place (as close to 88˚F as possible) for 24 hours, in oven a foot away from light for first 12, warm place in house (near window in Florida) for next 12-24 hours (maintain decent humidity)
  10. Watch for white mycelial growth enveloping beans, firm cake development, black spots on outside OK and even desirable for cultured-flavor (in Indonesia overripe tempeh used as flavoring agent)
  11. Steam and freeze, simply refrigerate, or cook as desired (see recipes)

The other side was all black and fuzzy, so I used that for the culture propagation and blue cheese experiment.  But steamed by itself and mixed with nutritional yeast and salt and pepper (and coconut oil, perhaps, refrigerated to solidify), it could definitely hold its own in a salad.

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2 thoughts on “Navy Bean Tempeh

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