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Keeping Tofu


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I have never cooked tofu before, but I picked up a block a few days ago and I am ready to try it out. My questions is how long can it keep once opened? I assume I should store it in some sort of closed container or plastic bag, but I didn't keep the liquid that was in the package (I am pressing it to get the extra liquid out) - what is that? Also, can I fry it and then keep it to put in stirfrys? Can it be frozen after frying?

I've seen lots of recipes and have ideas of my own, but have no clue what to do with the extra if I don't cook it all! Help!

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I normally cook at least one block at a time. However, if not, I generally cut off what I am going to use and then press that. I put the rest in a plastic container and cover it with fresh water, changing daily until I use it. Can't tell you how long it will stay fresh - I would use it in a few days but check online. Tofu can definitely be frozen, gives it a more meaty texture. Cover with water then freeze.

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I find that the softer, fresh kinds keep for a few days in the fridge in a container. Any longer than that, it goes funky (when it starts to smell sour, you know it's gone off). I usually keep leftovers in the water it comes in, but it's not necessary if you're using it the next day or two. The pressed/dried/fried/puffed kinds keep longer.

Tofu is already cooked in the package, so you're basically just heating it up when you stirfry. If you keep stirfried tofu for later, especially the softer ones, a bit of water may leach out. Nothing wrong with that, other than diluting any sauce that it's sitting in.

Like llc45 says above, freezing will give it a totally different texture, which may or may not be desirable depending on what you are using it for (soups, stirfries = yum. Smoothies = yuck). It is kind of spongy and soaks up as lot of tasty sauce. After thawing it, make sure to give it a good squeeze to take out as much water as possible. I've never tried freezing it post-frying, though. I think there's a thread in the China Cooking forum about frozen tofu (dong tofu).

Good luck in your tofu adventures!

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Hi, There are certain world renowned chefs, Gordon Ramsay is not one of them :biggrin:, who believe that tofu is the perfect food because it lends itself to almost any type of cuisine or flavour combination.

You have purchased water packed tofu. It is packed in water for a reason. The water pulls residual whey out of the tofu. This keeps the tofu from spoiling quickly. The whey attracts bacteria growth because it is fairly sweet.

The proper way of storing tofu is in a fairly large, preferably covered, container of water in the fridge. The water should be changed daily to maintain freshness.

Manufacturers say tofu will keep for up two weeks, I have kept and rejuvenated mine after keeping it for much longer than this. You can refresh sour tofu. Boil cubed tofu for five minutes in water to which 2 Tablespoons of salt have been added, drain, rinse well, and boil for another 5 minutes in clean water. The tofu itself will not taste salty, but you will not need to salt your dish. After refreshing tofu can be repressed in between two folded dampened towels if you wish to obtain a firmer texture.

Truly spoiled tofu turns pale pink, do not attempt to refresh it.

Tofu can be frozen, dried, pressed, ground, whipped, fried, deep-fried or baked.

Look at what you like to eat and there is probably an equivalent recipe made with tofu.

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In California, a water packed tub is usually 14 - 16 oz., depending on the brand and also which kind: soft (silken), regular (medium firm), firm (extra firm) or yaki.

Monterey Bay area

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Liz, I have often kept some of a block in the fridge using the methods described (in a container of water, or even without for a day or two) but sometimes forget about it and therefore waste the rest.

I have decided that it's a better option to freeze what I don't use. This does change the texture a bit, as others have mentioned, but I find the "spongy" texture quite appealing so I don't mind either way.

To freeze it, I tend to slice it before freezing so the defrost will be quicker... so I sometimes cut it into inch-ish cubes, or flat slices, depending on how I'll use it or just how I'm feeling :)

You can defrost it pretty quickly, in about 10 mins, by putting the frozen block in a bowl and pouring over boiling water... the water will seep in the cracks between tofu chunks and start to defrost all through. I'm sure you could microwave it too, which could be good because it wouldn't add moisture.

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I've seen lots of recipes and have ideas of my own, but have no clue what to do with the extra if I don't cook it all! Help!

Assuming you're using fresh tofu (as opposed to the retort-boxed variety), the best way to eat soft/silken or regular tofu is hiyayakko - so, if you have any leftovers, serve up the leftovers as an appetizer.

Monterey Bay area

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I recommend changing water daily, but I'm usually too lazy to do that. It can extend the life a couple of days. But basically, tofu realistically only has a week or two of "good" life before you open it, and is usually only in nice condition for three or four days after opening. If it's not airtight and not in water, it will go bad sooner.

In my area, tofu blocks vary from 200g (1/2 lb) to 700g (about 18 oz, or 1 1/8 lb) depending on which company makes it, and whether it's soft, momen, or that obnoxious extra-firm stuff that seems to sell best in the US.

When I have too much tofu, I sometimes freeze it in smaller pieces and defrost it with boiling water. Then I squeeze out remaining liquid to get something reminiscent of koya-doufu, a freeze-dried variety named after Mount Koya.

Slightly over-the-hill tofu has a sour taste and aroma. I don't use it at that point, although it used to be hard to find tofu that wasn't already slightly soured in the US. It certainly gets more smelly as it goes past that stage.

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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Thanks to everyone for responses. I ended up slicing off enough for one meal (about 1/4 of the block) and putting the rest in a container of water in the fridge. I might freeze it tonight because I don't know that I want to eat tofu every night for dinner this week!

As far as cooking it - I cubed it and sprayed them lightly with oil and baked at 500*. I was going for a crispy outer crust and creamy center, without frying in too much oil. It sort of worked, but a lot of the pieces stuck to the sheet pan, leaving the crispy bits behind. :angry: Tossed the pieces into a stirfry and overall it was pretty good. The sauce I used was tasty and the tofu soaked it up, so that was nice. I'll keep experimenting to see what I like though. Its a nice change from chicken, and a lot cheaper than shrimp for stirfrys!

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Thanks to everyone for responses. I ended up slicing off enough for one meal (about 1/4 of the block) and putting the rest in a container of water in the fridge. I might freeze it tonight because I don't know that I want to eat tofu every night for dinner this week!

As far as cooking it - I cubed it and sprayed them lightly with oil and baked at 500*. I was going for a crispy outer crust and creamy center, without frying in too much oil. It sort of worked, but a lot of the pieces stuck to the sheet pan, leaving the crispy bits behind. :angry: Tossed the pieces into a stirfry and overall it was pretty good. The sauce I used was tasty and the tofu soaked it up, so that was nice. I'll keep experimenting to see what I like though. Its a nice change from chicken, and a lot cheaper than shrimp for stirfrys!

Liz -

You could use a little oil to prevent sticking. I sometimes toss with soy/sesame/garlic and bake that way also.

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Hot & Sour soup is my favorite way to eat tofu. We eat a lot of mapodofu...but honestly I am not that crazy about it. DH loves it and that's enough for me.

But I make a large pot of Hot & Sour (leaving out the bean thread noodles for freezing) and freeze it in 'enough for two for supper' portions. Tofu does not improve for me in the freezing, but it's not all that prominent in the soup to make a huge difference.

Then I would add fresh bean thread noodles each time.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Thanks to everyone for responses. I ended up slicing off enough for one meal (about 1/4 of the block) and putting the rest in a container of water in the fridge. I might freeze it tonight because I don't know that I want to eat tofu every night for dinner this week!

As far as cooking it - I cubed it and sprayed them lightly with oil and baked at 500*. I was going for a crispy outer crust and creamy center, without frying in too much oil. It sort of worked, but a lot of the pieces stuck to the sheet pan, leaving the crispy bits behind. :angry: Tossed the pieces into a stirfry and overall it was pretty good. The sauce I used was tasty and the tofu soaked it up, so that was nice. I'll keep experimenting to see what I like though. Its a nice change from chicken, and a lot cheaper than shrimp for stirfrys!

Liz -

You could use a little oil to prevent sticking. I sometimes toss with soy/sesame/garlic and bake that way also.

Reynolds Release aluminum foil is my best friend. Absolutely nothing will stick to it, no oil needed (except if you want a little sprayed on for browning like you mentioned).

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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I agree with the storing in water with water changes. Freezing I also agree results in a different product. Unless you are using a locally made and really fresh product, and even then, you are probably only paying maybe $2 for the tub. This is one of those situations where fiddling with something so as not to throw away $1 and getting an inferior result does not play out for me. If I make the effort to get a lovely fresh product I try to plan ahead to use it in different ways within that week at the most. When in doubt - soup.

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Heidi, do you have any recommended soups? I've only ever had tofu in miso, but could imagine other good uses...

I don't really have the same feeling as you that it's "fiddly" to try and save the rest, I actually find it very handy to have some frozen for use with unplanned dinners. The spongy texture is different but not inferior in my mind. But each to their own :)

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Heidi, do you have any recommended soups? I've only ever had tofu in miso, but could imagine other good uses...

I don't really have the same feeling as you that it's "fiddly" to try and save the rest, I actually find it very handy to have some frozen for use with unplanned dinners. The spongy texture is different but not inferior in my mind. But each to their own :)

I just keep stock on hand, toss in veggies and tofu and maybe another protein. Then I add fresh stuff like bean sprouts and cilantro etc. The eG Asian Soup Cook-off here has good ideas as well. Tofu would be a natural add in for most of them.

There are also a few tofu ideas in this Cook-Off.

I do not disagree that having tofu around is a good idea. By fiddly I meant trying to preserve something I can get fresh for a dollar or two without issues of storage or quality compromise. I am surrounded by good cheap tofu so don't mind me :biggrin:

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