Tempeh (pronounced TEM-pay) is a cultured, plant based, protein-rich, fermented food. Traditionally from Indonesia, tempeh is made from soybeans. In recent years folks have been experimenting with different beans and grains in tempeh. The tempeh culture, rhizopus oligosporus, can proliferate on most beans and grains, so soy-free tempeh is possible.
Tempeh is made by culturing beans and fermenting them in a controlled environment. During this incubation period the rhizopus spore binds to the naked beans creating a myceliated mat, connected and firm. “Tempeh’s fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins. It has a firm texture and an earthy flavor, which becomes more pronounced as it ages.”
Tennessee, believe it or not, has a unique connection to tempeh. Tempeh was first introduced to North America via “The Farm” , an intentional community in Summertown, Tennessee. The Farm was founded in 1971, “Over the last 40+ years, The Farm has become well known for many things, from natural childbirth and midwifery to healthy diet and vegetarian cuisine, creative arts and alternative technologies to its partnerships and assistance to native cultures.”-The Farm website
Delicious, versatile and quick to prepare, tempeh can be sautéed, grilled, baked or traditionally pan fried. It readily accepts your favorite marinades, dry seasonings and is awesome dipped in your favorite sauce. Some folks like to steam their tempeh before cooking it a second time in oil. Try some for yourself. You can pick up Short Mountain Cultures soy and soy-free tempeh at The Franklin Farmers Market on Saturday, Richland Park Farmers Market on Saturday, Greendoor Gourmet Farm Store, HighGarden Tea, and Herban Market in Franklin.