Tofu Tips

When I posted my Peanut Sauce Baked Tofu recipe…

…I got quite a few comments from readers who are having a hard time getting their at-home tofu attempts to turn out like they hoped.  Never fear, I have some tips.

Here are some of my Tofu-Making Suggestions and Tips:

For anyone who doesn’t “like” tofu, it’s likely because of the preparation technique. Then again, Katie told me no matter what, she just doesn’t like it.  Fair enough.

In my opinion, raw/uncooked tofu is mushy, bland, and gross.  How to change that?

You must press it. Get that water out.  Get the mush out.

This is the tofu press I use and here is a post with a visual guide on using it.

If you don’t have a tofu press and can’t see spending money on it, then press your tofu in between two heavy frying pans or heavy pots and pans. Be prepared to go through a lot of paper towels as the water is pressed out.  The nice thing about the tofu press is that the tofu juice, i.e. water, is all contained neatly in the box and a half roll of paper towels isn’t needed.

For cooking and just “regular” eating, buy firm or extra firm tofu. Leave the medium or soft tofu for baking applications in which you are blending tofu into recipes, i.e. a block of tofu blended as part of a pudding recipe.  Or, soft/medium is fine if you’re doing a tofu scramble.  But for all the recipes I have where you are eating tofu as an entree or star of the show, you want firm or extra firm.

Soft tofu has the most water in it, i.e. the mushiest.  Extra firm has the least amount of water in it, i.e. the firmest and will hold together the best for cooking.  Also, when you press tofu, the most water will “leak” out of soft and the least amount of water from extra firm.  I see no reason why one would ever buy soft tofu and then press it, but that’s a whole other post, I’m sure.

After pressing the tofu, you must marinade and flavor it or it’s bland and tasteless.  Some people are okay with this; most, including me, are not.

Use a stronger and more potent marinade than you think you need.   Lots of the marinade flavor gets lost or “disappears” in the cooking process so it’s okay to start stronger than you think you want the finished tofu.

Slice tofu into uniform sizes so everything cooks at the same rate.

I like thin strips because they cook faster, and are not mushy when done.  Cubes, “logs”, strips, triangles, it all works just keep in mind that if you choose to use cubes (cute) when you’re flipping them while cooking, there are lots of cubes per block of tofu in comparison to thin strips to flip (I usually get 17-19 thin strips per block of tofu).  It’s all about least amount of effort for me.

If you open a package of tofu, drain the water out, freeze the tofu in the white container, then thaw it, then press it, then bake it, you will get a bread-like texture.  Sounds like lots of steps but it’s just drain and freeze, press and drain, cook.

See my Pumpkin Honey “Bread” Tofu recipe for more info on the freezing tofu technique.

It’s like pumpkin “bread” rather than tofu.  Sponge-like and soft.

If you plan to bake your tofu after marinating, I like to bake at at least 400F but usually about 425-450 for about 25 minutes total, flipping once at about the 15-20 minute mark and then cooking on the second side until desired level.

I find a hotter oven temperature (like 425-450F/25 minutes) gives a nicer outer “sear” and crispness better than cooking at lower temps/longer duration (325F/45 minutes).

Sesame Ginger Maple Tofu


If you plan to broil your tofu, 8-10 minutes on the first side, 3 to 6 on the second side, but do not leave the kitchen while broiling.  No exceptions as I stated in the recipe section for the Peanut Sauce Baked Tofu.  You don’t want to lose all your hard work by charring it which can happen in 60 seconds.  From raw to scorched in a minute under the broiler can happen.

If you plan to fry or pan-sear the tofu on the stovetop, I love sesame or peanut oil for this.  Start with a block of pressed and sliced tofu.  Don’t marinate it. (That’s an exception to my marinating rule)  After you fry/sear the tofu and flip over carefully in the pan to sear all sides, then add the marinade or sauce you’re using.  If you try to add sauce or marinade to un-seared stovetop tofu, I find the result to be mushy tofu that never really gets cooked properly.  And, the marinade just gets lost, too.  Sear/pan fry first, then sauce it up.

Maple Ginger Mango Tofu

Cooked/prepared Tofu will keep in the refrigerator for many days.  I am not advocating you wait five days to eat your tofu leftovers but I have forgotten about tofu I’ve made five days later, eaten it, and lived to tell the tale without incident.  I think 2-3 days is a very safe bet.

If you’re going to the work of pressing, marinating, and baking it, you may as well make two blocks and have planned leftovers is my thought process.

Use parchment paper lined-cookie sheets when cooking your tofu.  Save yourself cleanup time!  Some people just use cooking spray but I take it one step further and just pick up the whole piece of paper and hardly even have to wash my cookie sheet when I’m done.

After all that Tofu Talk, it’s time for cookie dough and chocolate.

No Bake Toffee & Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

From my last post about the Bars I reviewed and Creating Your Perfect Snack Bar, I am glad you liked my recipe ideas that were similar to the bars.

And thanks for filling me in on what ingredients would go into your perfect snack bar.  As I said, I’m using those comments for recipe development so if you have an ingredient you want used and incorporated, let me know.  Seems that peanut butter and chocolate were consistent favorites.  Surprise, surprise.

Questions

1. Do you like Tofu?  Favorite recipe or way to eat it?

I spent my life up until the past five years or so liking tofu that I ate when out or WF’s tofu, but could not for the life of me figure out how to recreate it successfully at home.

Once I figured it out, it’s been great because I don’t have to pay for WF’s hot bar tofu which for me comes out to about $10 bucks for what I guesstimate to be a block’s worth of tofu that I can buy for $1.50  Highway robbery!

So although I give WF’s tofu major props, making it at home is rewarding since I can control the flavors and save tons of money.

2. Do you have any tofu cooking or preparation tips?

Enlighten me!

All the tips I posted were based on my own experience and in no way are gospel and law on tofu, but just my tips and suggestions that work for me.  Your mileage may vary.

3. Need any other kitchen tip posts?

How to clean and core a whole pineapple at home in 90 seconds

How to wash and chop a head of lettuce at home in 90 seconds

How to save money on your grocery budget

 

   

71 Responses to “Tofu Tips”

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    Kate @ the pseudovegan — April 19, 2011 at 2:29 am

    i made your peanut sauce tofu on sunday, it was DELISH!!! i lovee it! I definitely need a tofu press to get it more crispy, but still amazing!

    Reply

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    Sue @ Sue In Training — April 19, 2011 at 3:08 am

    I didn’t like tofu at all until I met my BF a few years ago. He was born and raised in Korea, where tofu is a very common ingredient in many dishes. He showed me the difference between ‘western’ tofu (firm, bland, cardboard-like) and ‘asian’ tofu (fresh, soft, juicy, full of flavor), and how to prepare it properly. Today I love tofu in all it’s variations, even straight out of the pack without any seasonings. ;)
    My favorite way to prepare tofu is ‘bulgogi style’. Marinate it in a mix of soy sauce, sugar (or honey), vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger, then grill or pan-fry it. It’s usually eaten wrapped in a lettuce leaf and dipped into a spicy sauce. Holy yum! I guess I need to make that for Easter!

    Reply

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    Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope — April 19, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Yes, I am one of the “some people” who don’t mind it plain. ;) The first time I tried it years ago, I didn’t even realize that you could do anything more with it haha! What a great presser! I agree that pressing is a must if you want to bake, saute, or do almost anything with the tofu and expect it to be evenly done. Even when I eat it raw, I try to press out most of the liquid or it simply tastes too soggy. Great tips Averie!

    Reply

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    cheap oem download — April 19, 2011 at 3:19 am

    I definately see what you’re talking about right here

    Reply

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    Tasha @ Voracious — April 19, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Freeze + squeeze! That is the key for good, chewy, crispy tofu. I used to make General Tso’s tofu all the time, that was always a crispy, greasy, delicious treat!

    I LOVE your photos! Lookin’ good.

    Reply

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    cathy — April 19, 2011 at 3:36 am

    thanks for the tofu tips, averie! they’re as helpful as your photography tips (for me, anyway!)
    what i picked up: freezing tofu to make it breadlike; using parchment paper in the oven…i love tofu, but usually just pan-sear it. it IS amazing how much water you can squish out of tofu!!
    have a great day! sunny, i hope!

    Reply

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    minoueel — April 19, 2011 at 3:48 am

    I find using a heavy dish to press the water out of the tofu to be useful. Place a piece of towel in between the dish and tofu. :)

    Reply

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    tweal — April 19, 2011 at 3:53 am

    Mmm mmm I do love tofu, even bland and mushy straight out of the package. Unfortunately tofu does not agree with me so I can’t eat it anymore, but these pics are making me pretty hungry!

    My fav way to prepare tofu used to be to dice it very small, then pan fry until crispy and use as croutons for salad. Oh yumm.

    Reply

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    chelsey @ clean eating chelsey — April 19, 2011 at 4:14 am

    I love tofu – I don’t have a press, but have a pretty good method for pressing it myself! I can see myself buying a press in the future though!

    Reply

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    Jess@HealthyExposures — April 19, 2011 at 4:17 am

    I used to think I hated tofu; but really, it was all in a. preparation and b. brand! I can’t stand the Nasoya brand that is easiest to find, but love this “Vermont Soy Company” stuff. I’m probably just weird since tons of people seem to love Nasoya; but once I’ve had the VT stuff I just couldn’t go back to anything else, unless it was for a scramble or a smoothie!

    I love it cut into cubes or triangles and pan-fried! As long as there’s some crispy-coating action going on, I’m set :] Or “breaded” (in wheat germ!) and baked. I’ll have to try the freezing method next!

    Reply

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    Erika — April 19, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Hi Averie

    I loved your peanut sauce! I just can’t have enough of it over my salads! Yummmm :) And these tofu recipes look amazing. One question tho do you think that these tofu recipes would work with soaked terturized soy (soya meat) ?

    Reply

    • Averie (Love Veggies and Yoga) replied: — April 19th, 2011 at 4:49 am

      have no idea with the soya meat since i dont work with that? have no idea but the marinade FLAVORING will work with anything I think.

      Reply

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    Dana — April 19, 2011 at 4:34 am

    I really need to invest in a tofu press. I’m old school (aka cheap) and just use plates and a bunch of cans to press it. I’ve had issues with the pile toppling over before haha ;) Your tofu looks so perfect all the time–you should open up a tofu cafe! I could totally see you doing that (not sure where you’d find the time though haha)

    Hope your enjoying your day!

    Reply

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    Amanda- The Nutritionist Reviews — April 19, 2011 at 4:54 am

    Thanks for the tips! I have only made tofu once and didn’t like it much. These will help for sure.

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    dragonmamma/naomi — April 19, 2011 at 4:59 am

    I love parchment paper! I only discovered it this past Christmas, and it was indispensable for making oven-baked granola bars without leaving half the recipe behind on the pan.

    Reply

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    Salah (My Healthiest Lifestyle) — April 19, 2011 at 5:10 am

    I love love love marinating tofu in the frige overnight with some form of asian sauce (Teriyaki…yum!!!) and then baking it in the oven the next day!!

    Reply

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    Heather (Where's the Beach) — April 19, 2011 at 5:19 am

    You already know my tips on freezing. I had someone tell me they press then freeze then thaw and it’s even firmer. I haven’t tried it yet, but plan on it.

    Reply

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    Elizabeth@The Sweet Life — April 19, 2011 at 5:26 am

    Great tips–I think I just need to bite the bullet and get a press.

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    Claire @ Live and Love to Eat — April 19, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Great Tofu 101 – I’m making that recipe sometime this week. I love the frozen bread adaptation too! Thanks for the tips!

    Reply

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    Holly @ The Runny Egg — April 19, 2011 at 6:02 am

    Thank you for the tofu tips! I sure need them, since the few times I’ve made tofu it didn’t turn out too well.

    Reply

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    Christine (The Raw Project) — April 19, 2011 at 6:17 am

    Great tofu tips, thanks! I’m still debating if I need a press or not. So many great pics, I’ve gotta try another baked tofu recipe.

    1. Yes, I like to cooked it a lot of ways, I guess cream sauces and stir frys currently.
    2. Press it or buy the pre-pressed stuff.
    3. Lately I’ve been focusing on money saving tips, so I guess price comparisons and where you find the best deals.

    Reply

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    Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food — April 19, 2011 at 6:21 am

    wow, I knew about pressing tofu but didn’t know there was an actual tool for it!

    of course there is a tool for everything so silly me!
    I love tofu it just to be prepared in a flavorful way like it is in your post! :)

    Reply

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    Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday — April 19, 2011 at 6:25 am

    I made a great pecan and oat crusted tofu dish this weekend that even my husband liked!
    It was a recipe from Top Chef.

    http://gamereviewwiki.com/bikinibirthday/2011/04/pecan-crusted-tofu-with-oat-salad/

    Reply

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    Katherine — April 19, 2011 at 6:27 am

    Your tofu has some great sear going on- looks delicious!

    I do love tofu, but I am still working on perfecting it at home. My favorite way at restaurants is in a Thai Green Curry Sauce with lots of veggies. YUM.

    I don’t have a press, but I do use a clean kitchen towel rather than paper towels to absorb the water.

    Reply

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    Ari@ThE DiVa DiSh — April 19, 2011 at 7:11 am

    I actually made your peanut sauce tofu last night! It was really good, and I broiled it. I think next time ill try baking it. I don’t have a tofu press, so I can never seem to get enough water out. It was def delicious though!!

    Reply

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    MegSmith @ Cooking.In.College — April 19, 2011 at 7:12 am

    The things you do with tofu amaze me! I am bookmarking this page for sure. I want to make that pumpkin bread tofu so much!

    Reply

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    Stefanie @TheNewHealthy — April 19, 2011 at 7:14 am

    These are such great tips! I actually enjoy tofu raw and plain- but I enjoy it the most when it’s nicely marinaded and baked until crispy! Mm, I think I know what I’m having for dinner! :)

    Reply

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    Susan — April 19, 2011 at 7:26 am

    My mom is Korean, so I grew up eating lots of tofu. She often marinates slices of it in soy sauce, sesame oil, and some turbinado sugar, then grills it. Then we eat it with rice and veggies, yum! Also, the Mayo Clinic cookbook has a recipe for sesame seed crusted tofu that is uh-maaaazing. I WILL try your peanut sauce tofu soon though, it sounds divine…

    Reply

    • Susan replied: — April 19th, 2011 at 7:29 am

      Btw, your food photos always look great, I get hungry just looking at them!

      Reply

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    Katie — April 19, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Well, crap. Maybe I’m just preparing it wrong? I don’t think so though. I’m picky. :)

    I like the second half of the post though – I’m all about the cookie dough balls.

    Reply

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    Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit — April 19, 2011 at 8:02 am

    You’re the tofu QUEEN! I don’t have a tofu press, in fact I didn’t even know they existed! I squeeze the water out by wrapping the tofu in a kitchen towel and placing in my over the pot steamer – you know those metal ones that come with pot sets? They look like a flat colander. So, I put it in there, and put it over the pot it fits in. Then, I push down on the tofu for awhile… take it out of the cloth, and push some more. We are a paper towel free house (so challenging at first, but totally worth it in the end) so this technique is awesome!
    My favorite way to enjoy tofu is baked, either marinated in gingerale (the good organic/natural stuff) or cut into triangles and sprinkled with salt + smoked paprika and then baked!

    Reply

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    Amber K — April 19, 2011 at 8:03 am

    I am determined to try tofu again! I thought it was awful the one time I tried it, but like I said before I totally messed it up. It took forever to pick the tasteless tofu crumbles out of my stir fry, but I was glad to not eat them ;)

    Reply

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    Leslie — April 19, 2011 at 8:09 am

    The only way I’ve ever made tofu that I’ve liked (like at a Thai restaurant) is to fry cubes and have the edges chewy/crunchy and insides soft. Otherwise, the ways I’ve made tofu were epic fails.

    SO thanks so much for these tips. I really do like tofu, but if I don’t make it right, it’s just bleh.

    I will definitely be coming back to this post often!

    Reply

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    Heidi @ Food Doodles — April 19, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Yay, thank you for the tofu tips! I’ve made it a couple times successfully but it’s not something I know very much about. I like marinating it in lime juice and soy sauce and then using it with rice noodles and veggies and a sauce to make pad thai. I find I really have to cook it a long time with a little bit of oil in my skillet for it to reach the consistency I like. Or baking it in the oven like you do but I’ve only done that once or twice. I tried one of your recipes once and it was really good. I think it was a sesame maple one.

    Reply

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    lynn @ the actor's diet — April 19, 2011 at 8:23 am

    great tips, averie! here’s my favorite tofu recipe:

    http://theactorsdiet.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/lynn-the-power-of-pyrex/

    Reply

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    susan — April 19, 2011 at 8:32 am

    My kids would love this as an afterschool snack. I have some tofu on hand and this will be the perfect way to uitlize it.

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    Lauren (Diary of a Vegan Girl) — April 19, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Averie, thank you so much for all the tofu tips. You would think something like tofu would be so easy to cook with but it can actually be fairly complicated!

    This is a great post!

    I think I am going to get that tofu press!

    Reply

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    Lele — April 19, 2011 at 9:14 am

    This is so helpful! I’ve tried to marinade then sear, and now I get why it hasn’t worked!

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    McKella — April 19, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I love tofu and I’m not picky about it at all. I’ve diced it up and eaten it plain on salads before. My favorite way to eat it is marinated and baked or in an Asian stir-fry.

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    Alissa @ Not Just Apples — April 19, 2011 at 9:43 am

    this was such a helpful post, thanks!

    i’ve avoided tofu ever since the first time i tried it, but i am determined to buy it again, and i will use your wisdom :)

    Reply

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    mi-an — April 19, 2011 at 10:27 am

    I totally totally love love tofu!!! :)) it’s so cheap and can be made into a big dish!!
    p.s. i want one of those tofu presser thingies!! where did you get that??
    pps i’m back from buenos airesss!!!! :)) how’s your gash?? hope it’s healing properly and fast. x

    Reply

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    Stephanie — April 19, 2011 at 10:33 am

    My fave way to eat it is in Alicia Silverstone’s egg-less salad sandwiches from TKD. SO GOOD. I really need to get a tofu press, though.

    Reply

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    jelly roll fabric — April 19, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Averie,
    Been a big fan of the blog for a while – first time posting. Keep up the great work… I really love the stuff you’ve got on here.

    Reply

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    Beth — April 19, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Thanks for all those Tofu cooking tips. Loads of great information in this post.

    I’m a big fan of parchment paper no matter what I’m making. It is a great way to cut down on mess and clean up time. My husband uses foil in the same way when he makes salmon. Couldn’t be easier :)

    The last few times we used tofu, it was part of a stir fry or in Pad Thai. We bought the firm and cubed it. Didn’t know about the pressing though, so it was softer than I would have liked. Haven’t used it in a couple years though.

    Reply

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    Red Deception — April 19, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I’ve only had tofu in miso soup, so my experience with it is very limited!

    I am not sure how I feel about it. I think I want to try tempeh first!

    Reply

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    Becky — April 19, 2011 at 11:27 am

    This was SO helpful! I love tofu, but every time I make it it just never turns out, turns out TOO chewy or burnt-like. I’ll have to remember to check up on here the next time I go to make it! Thanks so much

    Reply

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    Jen — April 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Pressing and marinating is the way to go!!! I always add WAY more marinade because 1. I like my tofu spicy, and 2. I hate when it’s not enough sauce/marinade.
    I like your idea of cooking in strips instead of cubes, I’m all over that from now on :)

    Reply

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    Brittany — April 20, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I really want to like tofu because the only meat I actually kind of enjoy eating it ground turkey. I’ve tried cooking it over 20 times, and I either don’t like the texture or texture is okay and I don’t like the taste. I hope trying one of these recipes with a tofu press will work better.

    Reply

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    Tanja Barstad — April 24, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Don’t let people tell you that you can’t write, you are awesome. Thanks!

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    mikerosss — April 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Thank you, I have recently been searching for information about this topic for ages and yours is the best I have discovered so far.

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    Katherine Martinelli — January 19, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Great tips, Averie. I’m intrigued by the tofu press. I may have to invest in one when we’re back in the states :-)

    Reply

    • Averie @ Love Veggies & Yoga replied: — January 19th, 2012 at 12:45 am

      You can accomplish the same thing with two heavy frying pans or two heavy books and a big stack of paper towels and pressing the tofu that way…but the box just keeps the water contained and it’s so much easier than paper towels and less wasteful!

      Reply

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